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The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Seven Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

January 7, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 10

As we study the Sacrament of Confirmation, one may tend to ask, even subconsciously, something like, “What’s in it for me?” That is, what are the effects of Confirmation, what good does it do to my soul, what can I look forward to receiving from it?
The primary effect of Confirmation, as of all sacraments of the living, is a great increase of the divine life of sanctifying grace, and, consequently, a closer and more intimate union with God who dwells in our soul. This indwelling is appropriated to the Holy Spirit.
That is the very first effect of Confirmation: a closer and more intimate union with God who dwells in our souls. Have we ever stopped to think about the magnitude of this gift? The indwelling of God in us, in our souls? This indwelling is a preparation for Heaven, for the eternal happiness of the contemplation of God’s infinite Beauty, when God Himself shares His nature with us, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation is also the sacrament of the crusaders, missionaries, and heroes of all kinds, as I like to call it. The sacramental grace of Confirmation disposes the recipient energetically to profess, defend, and propagate the faith received in Baptism. It includes also the right or claim to the special spiritual helps (actual graces) which, if we avail ourselves of them, enable us to lead a holier life undeterred by human respect or other worldly obstacles.
These actual graces are of utmost importance today, when the faith is attacked, the Church is criticized, and scandals are perpetrated by bad Catholics. Pope Paul VI spoke of the smoke of Satan in the sanctuary, and even denounced the “auto-demolition of the Church,” as he called the epidemic of dissent and heresy that infects the Church in our day, even from the most unexpected places.
For those of us who want to be faithful, we need the graces of Confirmation to enable us to fight back, to defend the truth, to restore order in a messy situation.
In Confirmation, we become soldiers of Christ, and to understand how this works, please read the chapter 6 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, when he speaks of the armor of God.
I mentioned that Confirmation is the sacrament of the crusaders, missionaries, and all heroes. This is so because Confirmation binds the baptized more perfectly to Christ and the Church. The special strength of the Holy Spirit given in it assists them and obliges them to spread and defend the faith by word and by deed. And today this work is necessary, more than ever before.
Every Wanderer reader who has been confirmed has the duty to spread and defend the faith publicly by word and deed. A good way to do it is to promote The Wanderer, so that as many people as possible may benefit from it.
“What else is in it for me?” some may ask. In His paternal and merciful bounty, God Our Lord gives us through Confirmation a strengthening of the soul, effected in a most particular way through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, in Confirmation we do receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which always accompany sanctifying grace. Those gifts were given to us at our Baptism; but in Confirmation they are given to us in a fuller or more perfect form.
We know how Jesus used parables to illustrate His teaching. In the same way, and to understand the purpose of the gifts, we may compare the soul to a sailing ship, the gifts to the sails, and the impulses of the Holy Spirit to the favorable winds of Heaven.
At Baptism, the ship of the soul was given its suit of sails, but the sails were small. At Confirmation, they are enlarged so that they may more perfectly respond to the impulses of God’s grace. At Baptism, we were given a certain disposition to be moved by divine light and inspiration; at Confirmation that disposition is perfected, so that we are enabled to respond easily to the fuller and more precise actual graces we need for final perseverance, for the heroic deeds of a martyr or the heroic life of a saint.
But unfortunately, everything is not plain sailing under a blue cloudless sky, moved by a cool breeze on a calm sea. No, the reality of sin messes up the scenario. Because of our venial sin, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit may be impeded or contracted, like sails that are furled. Here we understand the great importance of not offending God even in the slightest way.

Will And Intellect

How many are those Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and what are their names?
They are seven in number, and are called: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety (or Godliness), and Fear. They enlarge our power to receive actual grace.
Through these gifts, as through so many broad inlets, the Holy Spirit, unless resisted, will pour generously into our soul all these actual graces which shall enable us:
To contemplate and dwell with pleasure on the Beauty and Majesty and Infinity of God (Wisdom);
To grasp and hold in our mind all the great truths presented to us by God’s Holy Church (Understanding);
To show good sense in the custody of our soul by shunning bad company, dangerous occasions, and everything that might imperil our spiritual life (Counsel);
To see the hand of God in the happenings of the world, to see His likeness in all created things, but at the same time, to realize that no creature deserves to be loved for its own sake, or can be of any profit to us, unless it leads us to our Creator (Knowledge);
To be true to our faith, to profess it boldly, and, with the superb courage of a martyr, to welcome death in testifying to its truth (Fortitude);
To serve God with joy, to say our prayers in spite of hurry or weariness, to receive the sacraments, to join with devotion in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to look on God as our Father and on all men as our brothers (Piety — Godliness);
To entertain a profound though filial fear of God, to meditate on the great disaster of losing His love, and of being separated from Him for all eternity (Fear of the Lord).
Through the Gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, and Knowledge, actual grace is given to our intellect; through the Gifts of Fortitude, Piety, and the Fear of the Lord, it is given to our will.

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. He is a militant pro-life writer and apologist, addressing live audiences and delivering talks on television, radio, and online. To date he has given over 2,500 presentations in 38 countries of the six continents. He is available to speak at Catholic events, both large and small, anywhere in the Free World, in four languages — English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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