In my early childhood when we had our regular Sunday school we were taught about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism. Even when I myself became a catechist, they were the same gifts that I imparted to the kids. In a recent post by a sister, an article by Scott P. Richert: “The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit“, there was this phrase that caught my attention:
(Saint Paul writes of “manifestations of the Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, and some Protestants use that list to come up with nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, but these are not the same as the ones recognized by the Catholic Church.)
This is a common understanding as the Protestants were the first to open the Bible to their congregation, and they started the charismatic renewal groups (ca 1960). But after the Second Vatican Council, when the Bible was made available to the laity (with local translations from the original Hebrew/Greek texts), came also the birth of the Catholic charismatic movements and renewal groups, sometime in 1967. Couples for Christ (CFC) is one such group but formed quite later as an outreach ministry for couples of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon.
Before CFC, I’ve always known about the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, coupled with its 7 resulting virtues (3 theological virtues – faith, hope, and love; & 4 cardinal virtues – prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance). These were further strengthened by the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which we have received during our Confirmation.
However in CFC while preparing us for the pray-over session, the topic of the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit was introduced and we were even encouraged to ask for these 9 spiritual or charismatic gifts (from the word charism or charismata) – the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power in us. It was a confusing topic for me as I literally grew up being taught about the 7 gifts and considering I also teach this as a catechist. But with the urging of my facilitator, I left it up to the Holy Spirit and just prayed that I will receive the gifts that my heart desired. It was only during my later years in CFC when I started giving talks that I made a deeper study on this topic.
Which is right then, 7 or 9? In my opinion, both are — from the 7 gifts as Isaiah had proclaimed in the Old Testament (when the Holy Spirit had not yet manifested) to the 9 Spiritual/Charismatic gifts as instructed by Paul, who became Jesus’ witness after his encounter with our Lord on his way to persecuting the early Christians.
What then differentiates these 2 theological positions? An article in Wikipedia states this:
Spiritual gifts are distinguished from other graces of the Holy Spirit, such as the fruit of the Spirit and the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, in that the charismata are to be used for the benefit of others while the fruit of the Spirit and other gifts result in personal sanctification.
It all depends on where you are in your relationship with God, in the realm of the Holy Spirit. If you reflect more closely of these gifts, complemented with the virtues that go with each gift, and the fruits of the Spirit, you will see the correlation between these 2 positions: after receiving the personal gifts from the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, they help us to be sanctified and with the help of the charismatic gifts, we become a channel of blessings for others that they as well will be sanctified.
“These gifts are [not merited but] given by the Holy Spirit to individuals, but their purpose is to build up the entire Church.“ It’s not for our personal use only but for others as well. And to continue on as a pastoral reminder of St. Paul in 1 Cor 13: 1-3 (NABRE) it has to be done in LOVE.
1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues[b] but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
To emphasize further the importance of love, in 1 Cor 13: 13 (NABRE), he wrote:
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
As Christians and witnesses to Christ Jesus, we are identified as His disciples because of our love for others. Let us continue to be a blessing for others. Whatever spiritual gifts we have received, we make use for our sanctification and for the sanctification of others.
May the love of Jesus continue to inspire us to love others. God bless!