The Gifts of the Holy Ghost (1)

Source: FSSPX News

As the Church and her children prepare for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, FSSPX.News offers a better way to discover these seven gifts granted by the goodness of God to our soul to sanctify it. In this first article we will discover why this sanctification bears the name of gift or spirit.

In Holy Scripture they are called spirits and gifts: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord,” as we can read in the famous passage from Isaiah (11:2-3).

And David proclaims to Christ: “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts in men.” (Ps. 67:19). These last words particularly concern the gifts of the Holy Ghost which make the soul very docile to His inspirations.

These names are eminently suitable for the divine septenary. Firstly because these two names suit the Holy Ghost Himself. Spirit, as it proceeds from love by “spiration” according to the theological term, and by the impulse of love. Gift, because love is communicative of itself, and the first gift of love is the heart of the friend, united to the beloved present within the one who loves him.

The gifts have the function of perfecting the virtues: they come, so to speak, to polish, and gild, and make the virtues shine in those things where they cannot achieve by themselves. Because faith alone leaves us in a certain darkness; but with the help of the gift of understanding, faith becomes contemplative and penetrates more easily the mysteries of faith.

Here below, we cannot contemplate perfectly by virtue of faith alone, at most we are watered with a light dew, and this dew itself is almost obscure. It is therefore necessary for us, in order not to faint, for heaven to be partially open to us, and this is what the Holy Ghost does through the gifts of understanding, knowledge, and wisdom.

These heavenly gifts are also called spirits because they are ordered in us by divine inspiration, as this word designates a certain impulse coming from without. To operate well, every creature needs divine motion, especially in the supernatural order. For man to become capable of acting to a degree which goes beyond virtue, it is necessary for him to receive a nobler spirit (or force) by which he is moved by an external impulse which elevates him.

Finally, the gifts are yet called spirits because the soul receives them as the very breath of God when He adorns it with His gifts, breathes His Spirit into it, so that all the virtues of the soul are made more perfect and elevated to a higher mode of operating.

From John of St. Thomas, The Gifts of the Holy Ghost.

John of St. Thomas, with Cajetan, is one of the most famous commentators on St. Thomas Aquinas.