According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are “specially intended for the sanctification of the person who receives them.” They are supernatural qualities that make us attentive to the voice of God and susceptible to grace – in accordance they make us love the things of God, and render us more obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
“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. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit … belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1830-1831
What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit? They are traditionally outlined in the Book of Isaiah:
“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.” – Isaiah 11:2-3
The Gift of Wisdom
Piously considered the first and greatest of the gifts, according to Saint Bernard it is the “supernatural Gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to know God and to rejoice in perfect love.” The gift includes not only illumines the mind, but the heart as well, directing it to a purer and deeper love for God.
The Gift of Understanding
The gift of understanding differs from wisdom – the desire to contemplate the things of God – in that understanding allows us to “penetrate to the very core of revealed truths.” It enables us to relate all truths to one’s supernatural purpose and further illuminates our understanding of Scripture.
The Gift of Counsel
The gift of counsel instills in us a supernatural prudence, enabling us to judge right and wrong and choose correctly what will help us in our salvation and glorifying God.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14
The Gift of Fortitude
The gift of fortitude instills in us the courage to overcome obstacles and difficulties that come with the practice of our Faith and religious duties. Aquinas says the” principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers rather than to attack them.”
The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of knowledge enables to us to as far as humanly possible see things from God’s point of view, pointing to us the path to follow and what danger to avoid in order to obtain Salvation and go to Heaven.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
The Gift of Piety
The gift of piety accords with reverence, inspiring a filial relationship with God so we may come to recognize our total reliance on Him and come before God with humility, trust, and love. Pope Francis said that is piety “is not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters.”
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” – John 15:15
The Gift of Fear of the Lord
Commonly misunderstood as a fear of a God ready to smite us, the gift of the fear of Lord instills in us an awe and wonder at the glory and majesty of God – a fear of separating ourselves from God and offending Him as the same as a child fears offending his father. Pope Francis said that it is “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.”