Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
St. Josaphat’s Cathedral in Edmonton, Canada is shaped as a cross with seven copper domes representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and descriptions outlined by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, the seven gifts are as follows: * Wisdom: We see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of life take on deeper meaning.
We see God as our Father, appreciate the dignity of others, and find God in all things. Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person’s speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known, Aquinas writes. * Counsel (Right Judgment): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus. Fortitude (Courage):
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With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing well and in enduring evil. * Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts. Piety (Reverence): With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes. * Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe):
With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we esire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a “filial fear,” like a child’s fear of offending his father, rather than a “servile fear,” that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7) because it puts our mindset in correct location with respect to God: we are the finite, dependent creatures, and He is the infinite, all-powerful Creator. Holy Spirit and the Church
The Holy Spirit is a divine person who eternally co-exists with the Father and the Son. The Spirit was present and active in creation, is seen throughout the Old Testament, and is revealed more explicitly in the New Testament. Life in the Spirit was reflected most clearly in the earthly life of Jesus. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from God to continue the work of the ascended Christ, as Jesus has promised His followers. Work of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit works in the world, convincing persons of sin and bringing them to repentance and faith, guiding them to fullness of life in Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the Counselor who is always present with God’s people and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who guides the believer, and serves as the guarantee of the eternal inheritance promised in Christ. The Holy Spirit intercedes for the believers in agreement with God’s will. He helps the children of God in their need, cleanses and sets them apart for holy living, and empowers them for service. The Holy Spirit is also present in the corporate life of the church, inspiring unity, worship and service.
His presence is realized as the church is open and responsive to the Spirit’s leadership. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to all believers according to His sovereign will and purposes. Scripture identifies a variety of gifts, given for the building up of the church and for ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit guides the church in setting apart persons for leadership. The church is responsible to discern and encourage the use of the gifts of the Spirit in its life and ministry. Nature of the Church
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ established the church to be God’s new community, which has its roots in the people of God in the Old Testament and testifies to the presence of the kingdom of God on earth. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, the redeemed community. His Word and will are authoritative among us. The church consists of all those who trust Jesus as Savior and follow Him as Lord. We become part of God’s family, loving the Lord Jesus and learning to love and care for one another.
We are a covenant community vowing before God and fellow members to live a holy life, to remain loyal to the church, and to foster oneness within the body of Christ. Our understanding of this covenant is expressed in a commitment to the local congregation, where the integrity of our discipleship is lived; to the denomination, where relationships with a wider fellowship of God’s people are realized; and to the body of Christ throughout the world, by which we fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all may be one.
The essential functions of the church are worship, fellowship, discipleship, and mission. In worship, we bring our whole-hearted devotion to the Lord God. In fellowship, we live out our deep commitment to love one another. In discipleship, we follow the call of the Lord Jesus to obey and to teach all things commanded by Him. In mission, we proclaim the gospel to all people and minister to human need as Jesus did. As a covenant community we practice mutual accountability among our members.
We accept the steps outlined by Jesus: first going privately to the one who sins against us; then, if necessary, returning with one or more witnesses; and finally, if needed, involving the congregation. When the church deals with sin, we seek to respond with compassion and concern. The objective of church discipline is to restore the erring church member and to maintain the integrity and purity of the church’s fellowship and witness.