Gratitude for Our Gifts
Since the 7th Century, there has long been a custom in the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres (known as the pantheon as it was originally a pagan temple) where on the day of Pentecost, thousands of rose petals are dropped through an opening in the great dome of the building. Today, this is accomplished by the, vigile del fuoco, the firemen of Rome. “The meaning is simple and evident.” Explains a fireman during an interview, “It is that the Holy Spirit descends on every one of us.” Every baptized believer in Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit living in them. St. Paul tells us that “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you”. The Holy Spirit is not just in the hearts of Priests, religious sisters and brothers, and those who work full-time for the Church, but the Spirit of God is in every one of us, and he desires to give us his gifts.
“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
We learn about some of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit when we prepare for Confirmation: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) These are known as the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are given to us to aid or growth in holiness. But the bible also speaks of other gifts, which we refer to as “charisms”. One way to understand these gifts, is to contrast them with the sacraments. The sacraments are given to the Church for the sanctification of individuals, charisms are given to individuals for the building up of the Church. Here is a list of some of the charisms listed in scripture: Discernment of Spirits (the ability to tell if a movement is from God, 1 Cor 12:10); Teaching the Faith (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11); Service (Rom. 12:27); Works of Mercy (Rom 12:8); and Hospitality (Making others feel welcome, 1 Peter 4:9-10). These are just some of the gifts listed, others are more extraordinary: Gifts of Healing (1 Cor. 12:9,28,30); Speaking in Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28); The Interpretation of Tongues (1 Cor 2:10); Miracles (1 Cor 12:10); and Prophecy (Romans 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10). These are just a small listing of the inexhaustible gifts that the Holy Spirit longs to give to you.
Charisms are not solely for those who identify their spirituality as “Charismatic”. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for every Christian. But these aren’t gifts to serve their own end, or our own purposes. Summarizing the Scriptural understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “The Holy Spirit is ‘the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.’ He works in many ways to build up the Body in charity: …by the many special graces (called ‘charisms’), by which he makes the faithful ‘fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.’”. The Holy Spirit has gifts to give you, to build up the Church. To build up our Church–that is to say, our community, and by doing so, you build up the Body of Christ. The Spirit longs to give you these gifts.
So, the questions we have to ask are: “Have I availed myself to the service of the Church? Am I committed to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, a duty given to every Christian? Am I ready to serve my brother and sisters to draw them into God’s kingdom? Have I given the Holy Spirit permission to move in me? Have I asked him to give me these gifts he longs to give me?” Pray that the Lord Jesus fills you with his Holy Spirit, it’s a request he has told us he will never deny! “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”