instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Short Shrifts of the Holy Spirit

In an ecclesial "What's Hot/What's Not" list, you'd find "Charisms" in the first column and "The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit" in the second. Evidently, humans can only maintain the heat of a fixed number of things, so as attention on charisms has increased, the Seven Gifts have consequently taken it in the neck.

Whether or not anything in the above paragraph is true, here is what you find in the Catechism's index under "Holy Spirit, gifts of the Holy Spirit":
gifts of the Holy Spirit, 1830-32
charism of healing, 1508
charisms, 799, 951
charity as the fruit of the Holy Spirit and of the fullness of the Law, 1824
chastity, 2345
in Confirmation, 1289, 1303
in episcopal consecration, 1556, 1558
fear of God, 2217
fruits of the Holy Spirit, 736, 1832
grace, 2003
grace of repentance and conversion, 1433
love, 733, 735, 2712
in the power of forgiving sins, 976
in the sacrament of
Anointing of the Sick, 1520
Holy Orders, 1538, 1585-89
Matrimony, 1624
seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, 1831, 1845
what is necessary for receiving, 1310
wisdom, faith, and discernment, 2690
If you check the links (go ahead; this post should still be here when you get back), you'll find that most of these refer to graces generally, or to specific graces other than the Canonical Seven, or to the Holy Spirit Himself, Whose proper name is Gift. About all the Catechism tells us about the seven gifts as listed in Isaiah 11:2-3 is this:
1830. The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.[Cf. Isa 11:1-2.] They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. [Ps. 143:10]
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. [Rom 8:14,17]
If, then, there's much worth understanding about the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit beyond the above, we'll need to look elsewhere.

But given the profusion of terms that all mean nearly the same thing -- gift, grace, charism ("after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning 'favor,' 'gratuitous gift,' 'benefit'") -- we'd want as a guide someone capable of making sound distinctions and clear definitions. At the same time, these being things of God, our guide should be someone close to God, learned by Divine light and not merely human reason.

Where do you suppose such a guide might be found?