Gifts, Charisms, and Ministries:
The Greek term charism or charisma denotes any good gift that flows from God's benevolent love (charis) unto man, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The plural is charisms or charismata.
In fact, all good things we have, material or spiritual, are charisms or gifts of God: The sun, air, our body, our soul, relatives, neighbors, animals, plants, mountains… any Divine grace or favor, ranging from redemption and life eternal to comfort in communing with brethren in the Faith (Rom.5:15-16, 6:23, 11:29).
In ordinary life, we say a person is charismatic because he has a certain quality which attracts people to his personality.
There are two types of spiritual gifts or charisms given by the Holy Spirit:
- The first are specially intended for the sanctification of the person who receives them: The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (godliness), and fear of the Lord (Is 1:2-3).
- The second, more properly called charismata or charisms, are extraordinary gifts granted for the help of another, for service to the Church, except the "gift of tongues" which is "to strengthen oneself" (1Cor.14:4). There are nine gifts listed in Scripture: "The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the grace of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues" (I Cor.12:4-10).
Ministries of the Spirit:
To these nine gifts, are added the ministry charisms of apostles, prophets, doctors, services, and governments in 1Cor.12:28-31. Other ministry charisms are listed in Rom.12:6-8, Eph.4:11, and 1Pet.4:10-11, with a total of about 20 charisms and ministries.
These extraordinary gifts were foretold by the Prophet Joel (2:28) and promised to believers by Jesus: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils and speak with new tongues… they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall be healed" (Mk. 16:17-18). The Lord's promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Act.2:4), and, as the Church spread, in Samaria (Act.8:18), in Caesarea (Act.10:46), in Ephesus (Act.19:6), in Rome (Rom.12:6-8), in Galatia (Gal.3:5), and more markedly in Corinth (I Cor.12 and 14). The abuses of the charismata, which had crept in at this latter place, induced St. Paul to discuss them at length in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Apostle teaches that these "spiritual things" emanate from the Spirit who quickens the body of the Church; that their functions are as diversified as the functions of the natural body; and that, though given to individuals, they are intended for the edification of the whole community (I Cor.12).
The 7 gifts for the sanctification of the person who receives them
(Is.11:2-3, plus "piety"):
- Gift of Wisdom: By detaching us from the world, make us relish and love only the things of heaven: It help us, for example, to understand and live the glorious fact that God is our Father, I am a child of God!… that Jesus loved me so much that he died on a Cross for me, and is so much in love for me that he is waiting for me every day in the Eucharist made now just bread and wine, to nourish me daily with his love , praise the Lord!... There are actually three kinds of Wisdom: Natural, learned, and directly from God and associated with the particular work of the Holy Spirit. he three of them are gifts of God, the last one is most cherished, the one of Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, Abraham, Moses, the Apostles, St. Paul...
- Gift of Understanding: Help us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary. To understand and live the value of prayer, love, faith, hope, the Trinity, the Father, Jesus, the Spirit, the brothers, the creatures of God, the snares of the devil...
- The gift of Council: It springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God, our own salvation, the good of the Church...
- The gift of Fortitude or Power: We receive power and courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice or our religious duties, to be able to fight the world, the devil, and most specially the bad inclinations of our own flesh...
- The gift of Knowledge: Points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach Heaven.
- The gift of Piety (Godliness): Inspires us with a tender and filial confidence in God, and makes us joyfully embrace with love all that pertains to His service, the liturgy, the sacraments, prayers...
- The gift of Fear of the Lord: It fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes as dread, above all timings, to offend Him… God is Holy and Merciful… and he is Just: If the devil would be in Heaven, God wouldn't be God. The "love" and "fear" of the Lord are like the "accelerator" and "brakes" of the car: Without accelerator we will go nowhere, but nobody would dare to drive without brakes!
Gifts and Virtues:
The gifts of the Spirit are perfections of a higher order than the virtues: The virtues dispose us to follow the impulse and guidance of reason, while the gifts of the Spirit are functionally intended to render the will obedient and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spiritt, they make us attentive to the voice of God, love the things of God, and be faithful to the actual grace.