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Gifts and Charisms

Gifts and Charisms of the Holy Spirit

How does the Catholic Church confirm the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit..?

What are the biblical gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit?

How does the Catholic Church confirm the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit actively working in the people of God, now and "henceforth"?

Catechism of the Catholic Church

767 – "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church. Then the church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun. As the ‘convocation’ of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them."

768 – "So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit ‘bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and this way directs her’. Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom."

798 – "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.’ [252] "

799 – "Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world."

800 – "Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. [253]"

801 – "It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. ‘Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,’ [254] so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together ‘for the common good.’ [255] "

951 –"Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the church, the Holy Spirit ‘distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank’ for the building up of the Church. [482] now, ‘to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.’ [483]"

2003 – "Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning ‘favor,’ ‘gratuitous gift,’ ‘benefit.’ [53] Whatever their character – sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues – charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church. [54]"

2004 – "Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church. Having gifts that differ according to the grace give to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. {55] "

2702 – "The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication."

2703 – "This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depth of the soul. He also wants the external expressions that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders Him that perfect homage which is His due."

We also recommend Vatican II document on the laity – "Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium." – which can be purchased in various booklet presentations at most Catholic bookstores.

What are the biblical gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit?

Isaiah / Traditional Gifts – Motivational / Roman Gifts / Manifestation / Charismatic / Corinthian Gifts – Ministry / Ephesians Gifts

*The Isaiah Gifts (Is.11:1-3) / Traditional Gifts
(The Holy Spirit is poured out in fullness in Baptism – virtues given freely to all believers to sustain moral life of the Christian – that means you get them all ! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are freely given so we will fulfill the God-given purpose of our lives. In the sacrament of Confirmation we individually confirm our acceptance of these gifts, but often they are not "stirred up" into activity until we are "baptized in the Holy Spirit". Ask yourself – how am I using the traditional gifts of the spirit – the Isaiah gifts to fulfill my God-given purpose in life?)

Wisdom – an understanding in our inner being, which enables us to see God’s viewpoint or vision of the world. It helps us develop the ability to make judgments about everything in our lives on the basis of a deep, personal union with the Lord and his abiding love.

Understanding – enlightenment of our minds and hearts with divine truth so that we can grasp the mysteries of the Lord. This gift enables us to see the Lord more deeply. It also illuminates the Holy Scriptures as we read them and gives us knowledge of God and his ways. Signs of this gift are new insight into the Scriptures, increased depth in prayer, and renewed appreciation of the sacraments.

Counsel (Right Judgment) – the ability to receive and/or give good advice. It empowers us to make decisions in the Spirit in practical life situations and allows for maturity as we grow in our Christian walk. Sometimes it takes place in the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Holy Spirit helps us discern good from evil, right from wrong. We grow in this gift by humbling ourselves to seek help from others when faced with a difficult situation.

Fortitude (Courage / Strength / Zeal) – enables us to face with strength the trials and dangers we encounter in our Christian life. It empowers us to choose consistently the right way to live in spite of disappointments and difficulties. We can grow in courage by resisting the temptations of the world: money, power, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness. It is often seen as the root of the charism of evangelism.

Knowledge – is having a deep trust and sureness about the Lord and knowing the truths of Christian revelation. This gift of tthe Holy Spirit produces in us a deep trust and sureness about the Lord. We grow in the gift of knowledge through daily study of the scriptures and the teachings of the Church.

Piety (Love) – called in Romans 8:15 the "spirit of adoption" produces in us a loving and worshipful consciousness of God as our Father. Piety leads us to a true image of our Father as merciful, faithful, abounding in steadfast love, slow to anger – but also firm and just. It also helps us to see God’s holiness reflected in other people and to love them. We grow in piety through the practice of justice, attitudes of cooperation with authority, truthfulness, friendliness, and humility.

Fear of the Lord – an attitude of reverence and awe in the presence of God. It is not to be confused with the emotion of fear. However, fear of offending God is a manifestation of our reverence and respect for WHO GOD IS. This gift enables us to reverence all life as a reflection of God’s life. We grow in reverence by praying to God often, by being thankful for God’s gifts, and by respecting God’s name. Fear of the Lord is the spiritual door to the full Christian life, a great aid in overcoming sin in our lives. (See Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 34:12-15)

*The Motivational Gifts – Romans 12:6-8
(These gifts are talents given to you when God formed you in the womb. These talents are referred to as gifts because they are freely given to us by God so we can contribute to our society and bring glory to Him as we utilize them. These gifts help us to develop our personalities, character, and often our vocations These are gifts that in some measure are present in each of us, even though one may be more prevalent than another.)

PROPHECY (Prophet / Perceiver) – one who clearly perceives the will of God – not to be confused with the function/position of ‘prophet’ who is one in that role due to anointing of the Lord and testing/discernment by the body over a period of time. (would be a strong intercessor, having great faith that God answers prayer)

MINISTRY (Server / Doer) – one who loves to serve others and manifests hospitality.

TEACHER – one who loves to research and communicate truth – a person of faith who leads others to grasp and hold on to the truth.

EXHORTER – one who loves to encourage others to live a victorious life - one who moves others to achieve or accomplish or be what God calls them to be and do.

CONTRIBUTOR (GIVER / ALMS GIVER) -one who loves to give time, talent, energy and financial / material means to benefit others and advance the Gospel; a person of faith who knows that God supplies every need, and is willing to put themselves and their resources at the service of others.

ADMINISTRATOR (FACILITATOR / LEADER) - one who loves to organize, lead or direct, knowing by faith that any project can be accomplished by bringing together the right people to do it – one that is "over others" - a person of broad vision, the administrator grasps the overall picture and sees all that is involved.

ONE WHO SHOWS MERCY (PERSON OF COMPASSION) – one who shows compassion, love and care to those in need; one who readily recognizes the pain people experience and reaches out to bring healing and love into action; as a person of faith, helping others to work together in love.

 Peter 4:8-11 shows us how to use our Motivational Gifts – "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."


*The Manifestation Gifts – Corinthian Gifts (1 Cor 12:7)
(often referred to as the Charismatic Gifts)

("To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit." 1 Cor 12:7 - There are different members, but ONE BODY – all function together. These gifts are free and are dispensed sovereignly by God upon His people for the good of others. These gifts are supernatural abilities bestowed upon individuals by the Holy Spirit. They are not natural abilities. These manifestations are for the common good of the Church and are not to be used to promote the importance of the person bearing the gift. – see Catechism references above. We do not ‘possess’ the manifestation gifts. We are the vehicles the Lord uses for the outpouring of His blessings upon His people. We are the ‘gift bearers’ and must function "with humility, willingness to take risks, trust in God, and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ" –Catechism of the Catholic Church. Christians open to the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit, to use them for their own building up and then for the building up of the church, should know what the gifts are and pray for the gift of discernment in when and how to use certain gifts. The Manifestation gifts consist of gifts of Insight / Revelation, gifts of Communication / Utterance, and Power / Dynamic gifts.)


EXPRESSION OF KNOWLEDGE (WORD OF KNOWLEDGE) - a supernatural revelation of facts past, present, or future which we did not learn through the efforts of the natural mind – this is not to be confused with the knowledge we have acquired through the study of scriptures, Christian writings or other sources of information, including our own experiences. This is a supernaturally imparted Word. If we proclaim a healing or promise of salvation because of what we have studied, we are being presumptuous, not faith filled. True supernatural knowledge starts with knowing God personally, through Jesus Christ. Jesus and the disciples received many ‘words of knowledge’ from the Holy Spirit. See John 4:17-27, Matthew 17:27, Mark 5:36-40, Acts 5:1-9, Acts 3:1-10 (only a few!)

EXPRESSION OF WISDOM (WORD OF WISDOM / WISDOM IN DISCOURSE) - a supernatural insight given to the members of the Body of Christ which reveals God’s timing and method of ministry in a given situation. It explains or illuminates a given revelation such as a word of knowledge, discernment of spirit or the communication of revealed prophecy. This is not the same as wisdom we gain from our experiences in life or intellectual pursuits. It is not to be confused with the virtue (Baptismal gift) of wisdom. The ‘virtue’ of wisdom given at Baptism and affirmed at Confirmation is a lifelong gift which increases in us as we submit to those who instruct us on our spiritual journey. But a ‘word of wisdom’ is a supernatural revelation of God’s timing and method of ministry in a given situation.

DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS – a supernatural ability to recognize whether a person or situation is being motivated by the Holy Spirit, their human spirit, an evil spirit or a combination ofthese spirits. The discernment of spirits is NOT everyday discernment used for making decisions, nor an insight into human nature that one might naturally possess, nor an adept ability to suspect something wrong in the motive of others. It is NOT the natural ability to assess situations. The discernment of spirits is a supernatural gift of revelation given for a specific situation This revelation can come through a vision, a sense, or a specific word similar to a word of knowledge. The gift of discernment of spirits is essential in ministry to people who have been involved in drugs, premarital sex, witchcraft, and other habits of grave sin, when they seek to change their lives. It is also important to pray for the gift of discernment when we listen to teachings or prophecies, read Christian or secular publications, and watch Christian or secular TV programs, movies, videos, or view websites. Discernment of spirits and Wisdom help judge and validate healings and miracles as well as prophecy and words of knowledge. As with the other gifts, a word of wisdom should be sought through quiet prayer before bringing forth what is being revealed. Prayer ministers should expect this manifestation of the Spirit to come forth during prayer / healing ministry. Discretion and compassion to insure the dignity of the person receiving ministry are required. This manifestation gift requires commitment to deep prayer and maturity in the Spirit.


TONGUES – a spontaneous, inspired utterance by the Holy Spirit in which we use our voice according to the Spirit’s prompting. To speak or sing in Tongues or "to pray in the Spirit," as it’s called, is what happens when a believer allows the indwelling Spirit to guide and form the words they utter. To pray, to speak or to sing in Tongues is to pray in what could be an earthly or heavenly language; a language current on the earth or one long dead, or it could be any one of countless dialects. Praying in tongues brings deliverance, inspiration, refreshment (both spiritually and physically), revival, wisdom and is a means to victory in spiritual warfare.

 "Prayer tongues is a permanent gift in which you are edified. The Spirit prays within you according to Romans 8:26: ‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with signs too deep for words.’The ministerial gift of tongues is really ‘speaking’ in tongues. In your prayer language you pray in tongues. When you minister to the community by anointed utterance this is ‘speaking in tongues’. There is a distinction. ‘The primary purpose of prayer tongues is to praise God. The gift of speaking in tongues, while praising God, has as its goal, the release of interpretation, or speaking God’s message.’ (Rev. Msgr. Vincent M. Walsh, Lead My People, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Key of David Publications, 1980, p. 54) - it is a calling forth of the ‘interpretation prophecy’. Praying in tongues is a permanent gift. Speaking in tongues is a transient gift used only when there is an anointing." Rev. Robert DeGrandis. S.S.J., The Gift of Tongues, 1983, p. 6-7 (emphasis added).

The gift of tongues is considered the "least" of the gifts, even though it is often presented as a very important manifestation of the baptism in the Spirit. It is the ‘gateway’ gift to the other gifts. If we humble ourselves in our relationship with the Lord so much as to yield to His Holy Spirit within us in order to ‘babble’ in a ‘strange tongue’, then we open ourselves so much more to surrender to the other gifts to be manifest in us for the good of the Church.

 Also see Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 688, 798-801, 2003, etc – scroll up to see "How does the Catholic Church confirm the gift and charisms of the Holy Spirit…?"

INTERPRETATION (OF TONGUES) – a prophetic message given in response to God’s signal of ‘speaking in tongues’ (rather than ‘praying in tongues’). If someone ‘speaks’ out in a tongue, there ought to be an ‘interpretation’. This can be brought forth by the person who has given the tongue, or it can be given by someone else in the group. It is the responsibility of leadership to make sure that NO praising, singing, scripture reading, or other prophetic tongue occurs until time has been allowed for the interpretation. We should be silent and wait upon the Lord, and we should pray for someone to have the confidence to deliver the interpretation and ask for it to come forth. Others receiving prophetic words before the interpretation is given should be encouraged to wait. Interpretation may come in a variety of ways, similar to the length and style of the tongue spoken; or it may be completely different, expressed in longer or shorter words, as a vision, a sense, an inspired thought or a symbol in pictures. The person with the interpretation may receive it as if the person speaking in tongues was speaking to them directly in their own language, or it may just be a phrase or a word that comes as the individual is speaking in tongues. The necessary ingredient for bringing forth a message in tongues or an interpretation is the willingness to trust God. This gift, like all the manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit, needs to be encouraged and called forth.

PROPHECY – a supernatural communication from God to an individual or a group of believers. It is an anointing given as the Spirit wills to anyone open to bringing forth a gift in love to their brothers and sisters in Christ to promote the spiritual growth and development of the body of believers. Prophecy builds up, encourages (this could include warnings), exhorts and consoles draws us closer to God in worship, and stirs up a response in God’s people such as joy, freedom, peace, tranquility, excitement, enthusiasm, a willingness to give all to the Lord, and gives us guidance in our daily walk.. It always brings glory to Jesus. "…even if a prophecy corrects or calls one to forgiveness, this is a positive message from the Lord for the up-building of the community or person." (DeGrandis, The Gift of Prophecy, p.31) Prophecy is "forth-telling" of the mind and heart of God to His people. Prophecy can manifest through a vision, words, and thoughts or be prompted by a form of physical sensation to alert us to listen. A person yielding to this gift must listen and expect that God will speak, and always yield to the authority and order of the event and yield to the authority/body for discernment. It is necessary to discern the message that is spoken, not necessarily to accept everything that is said as ‘gospel-truth’. Prophecy should always be discerned and tested by the body of believers present. Prophecy is not an ability given to someone to prophesy at will, but rather a definite message given at a particular time by the Spirit for a distinct purpose. Not all who prophesy are prophets (cf. 1 Cor 14:31). A prophet is a person who consistently over time expresses prophetic words which are powerful and which elicit a response from many in the group. (see more on Ministry Gifts – Prophets)


FAITH – a supernatural outpouring or anointing of the Holy Spirit which enables us to confidently believe without a doubt that what is spoken or undertaken in Jesus’ name will be accomplished. Faith involves entrusting oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely and completely what He reveals. This supernatural anointing of faith is different than: historical or intellectual faith – which has not made connection with the real power of Jesus and doesn’t produce fruit (James 2:19); temporary faith – which has no root because the heart and mind have remained hard and the individual has never fully surrendered to Jesus (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23); saving or justifying faith – which is just basic trust in God for salvation and involves the submission of our will to the Lordship of Jesus (Romans 5:1-2); faith in God – belief in the nature and essence of God and his everlasting love (Catechism p.49,50); faith as fruit of the Spirit – faithfulness to God regardless of circumstances but no connection with ministry gifts (Galatians 5:22); ministry faith – given to help us use our motivational gifts (Romans 12:2-8). The gift of the Faith of God is the supernatural faith that will heal, bring about miracles, and move mountains! It is given spontaneously and lasts long enough for God’s purpose of the moment to be accomplished. To minister in the Faith of God we should center our mind on God and open our spirits to receive words of knowledge and words of wisdom as well as His Faith – what he wants to do. (Further study is encouraged on the ‘Logos’ of the Word and the ‘Rhema’ of the Word to be used in ministry - that it is important to understand that we cannot take a scripture verse or passage which we have read and automatically apply it to the situation; we must listen and put on the mind and Faith of God and minister in the ‘Rhema’ of the Word – what God speaks to us ‘now’ at that particular moment..) See Acts 9:36-43, Acts 14:8-10, Genesis 21:2 with Romans 4:20-24, among others.

GIFTS OF HEALING (DIVINE HEALING) – supernatural outpourings of God’s power which results in the healing of sickness and disease without the use of medical means. This can involve "sickness" of the body, soul and/or spirit. God is interested in healing our total person. "…bring glad tidings to the poor" (materially and in spirit) …"proclaim liberty to captives" (those who are held in bondage to illness and sin by the evil one) …"recovery of sight to the blind" (physically and spiritually blind)… "let the oppressed go free" (setting the down-trodden free – inner healing and healing of memories –also "bind up the hearts that are broken" Isaiah 61:1) …"proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord" (the healing of relationships – restoring property, freeing slaves, forgiving unpaid debts). Jesus used many different methods of healing, such as laying on of hands, casting out demons, spitting and making mud then applying it, and proclaiming healing from a distance. Jesus is the healer. Even healings that come to us through the intercession of Mary and the saints are through their intercession with Jesus the Healer. Healing is given as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit to build up, encourage, strengthen, make new or whole an individual or a group for the glory of God and the blessing of His people – to sanctify or to make holy the recipient, to glorify God, to build faith, to be a sign of the power and presence of God, to meet the need, to change the circumstances, to build up the Church. Healing may be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual or relational. When we pray for healing, some type of healing comes, though it may not be specifically what we asked for. Healing is often accompanied with the gift of tears – a wonderful gift described by one of the saints as the "washing of the soul". Joy also often accompanies healing and can be expressed through "holy laughter" or tears. Discernment of all the circumstances of the Divine Gift of Healing is necessary. Those in the Healing Ministry should be committed to receiving continuous teaching, deep prayer and the use of the sacraments, and open to the other manifestation or charismatic gifts, especially Word of Knowledge and Word of Prophecy.

MIRACULOUS POWERS (WORKING OF MIRACLES) – Miracles are interventions into the course of events which seem to contradict the so-called laws of nature. Through ‘working of miracles’ the Holy Spirit manifests the power of God to produce works which go beyond the natural: overriding natural laws, such as turning water into wine, multiplication of the loaves and fishes; healing beyond the ordinary, such as healing the withered hand (Luke 6:6-10), the replacement of an organ that is not there, disappearance of a tumor without surgery, making the blind see without surgery. The Lord bestows miracles to encourage, strengthen and support the faith of His people or to correct a given situation which cannot be accomplished by any natural means; or to show His power at work in response to a ministry of preaching or teaching. A miracle brings about awe and wonder at God’s power so that glory is given to God. Miracles , which always happen instantaneously, are a much more powerful sign of God’s presence and action than healings, which may be instantaneous, gradual or a speeded up recovery. The gift of Faith of God certainly has to be involved in the ministry of working miracles as one speaks the word of command in Jesus’ name without doubt and with full certitude and expectant faith.


(Not all members of the body have the same function. The ministry gifts are the gifts of function / position in the body. "And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." Eph 4:11-12 The five ministry gifts are the leaders God has appointed to teach and inspire us in our Christian mission. If we do not understand that the ministry gifts are people in specific roles, we might be confused with the similarity of words used to describe other gifts of the Spirit in the scriptures. St. Paul tells us that God has given these ministry gifts to the church for the purpose of equipping the saints (the people of God) for their work to build up the Body of Christ.)


Note: Gifts covered in 1 Corinthians 12:28 are some of the gifts already listed above: apostles, prophets, teachers (ministry gifts); mighty deeds, gifts of healing (manifestation/charismatic gifts); assistance/service ministry, administration/leadership (motivational gifts); tongues (manifestation/charismatic gift) Study of Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, lives of the saints, and Church traditions and teachings will make you even more aware of the fullness and variety of the many gifts and graces that God gives us to make His will manifest in our lives and for the building up of the Church – the Body of Christ.

"It is most worthwhile to study the gifts and invite the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence in a variety of ways. We need to be empowered for the ministry of service that we may share in the mission of Jesus as bearers of the Spirit without measure." Fr. Peter B. Coughlin, "Understanding The Charismatic Gifts", 1998, p. 79.

*Taken and paraphrased from- "Understanding The Charismatic Gifts" by Fr. Peter B. Coughlin, Diocesan Liaison, Toronto, Canada; "The Biblical Gifts of the Holy Spirit" by Em Weis, Lay Director of the Charismatic Renewal, Diocese of Venice, FL., "The Gift of Tongues", by Rev. Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J.,1983. Information may also contain teachings from Msgr. Vincent Walsh, "A Key To The Catholic Pentecostal Renewal" Vol Two, 1985; and Rev. Robert DeGrandis, "The Gift of Prophecy".


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