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Gifts, Charisms,
and Ministries of the Holy Spirit



The Greek term charism or charisma denotes any good gift that flows from God's benevolent love (charis) unto man, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The plural is charisms or charismata.

In fact, all good things we have, material or spiritual, are charisms or gifts of God: The sun, air, our body, our soul, relatives, neighbors, animals, plants, mountainsany Divine grace or favor, ranging from redemption and life eternal to comfort in communing with brethren in the Faith (Rom.5:15-16, 6:23, 11:29).

In ordinary life, we say a person is charismatic because he has a certain quality which attracts people to his personality.

The spiritual gifts or charisms of the Holy Spirit are of two kinds:

  1. The first, are specially intended for the sanctification of the person who receives them: The seven gifts of Is 11:2-3: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (godliness), and fear of the Lord.

  2. The second, more properly called charismata or charisms, are extraordinary gifts granted for the help of another, for service to the Church, except the "gift of tongues" which is "to strengthen oneself" (1Cor.14:4).

    Some of these, are enumerated by St. Paul in 1Cor.12. They are 9: "The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the grace of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues" (I Cor.12:4-10).

Ministries of the Spirit:

To these 9 gifts, are added the ministry charisms of apostles, prophets, doctors, services, and governments in 1Cor.12:28-31. Other ministry charisms are listed in Rom.12:6-8, Eph.4:11, and 1Pet.4:10-11, with a total of about 20 charisms and ministries.

Jesus speaks of "talents" in his parables, which are the same as special kinds of gifts or charisms given to each individual, (Mt.25:14-30, Lk.19:12-27)

These extraordinary gifts were foretold by the Prophet Joel (2:28) and promised to believers by Jesus: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils and speak with new tongues… they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall be healed" (Mk. 16:17-18). The Lord's promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Act.2:4), and, as the Church spread, in Samaria (Act.8:18), in Caesarea (Act.10:46), in Ephesus (Act.19:6), in Rome (Rom.12:6-8), in Galatia (Gal.3:5), and more markedly in Corinth (I Cor.12 and 14).

The abuses of the charismata, which had crept in at this latter place, induced St. Paul to discuss them at length in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Apostle teaches that these "spiritual things" emanate from the Spirit who quickens the body of the Church; that their functions are as diversified as the functions of the natural body; and that, though given to individuals, they are intended for the edification of the whole community (I Cor.12).


The 7 Gifts for Sanctification of the person who receives them
(Is.11:2-3, plus "piety"):

  1. Gift of Wisdom: By detaching us from the world, make us relish and love only the things of heaven: It help us, for example, to understand and live the glorious fact that God is our Father, I am a child of God!… that Jesus loved me so much that he died on a Cross for me, and is so much in love for me that he is waiting for me every day in the Eucharist made now just bread and wine, to nourish me daily with his love , praise the Lord!…

    There are actually three kinds of Wisdom: Natural, learned, and directly from God and associated with the particular work of the Holy Spirit. he three of them are gifts of God, the last one is most cherished, the one of Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, Abraham, Moses, the Apostles, St. Paul…



  2. Gift of Understanding: Help us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary. To understand and live the value of prayer, love, faith, hope, the Trinity, the Father, Jesus, the Spirit, the brothers, the creatures of God, the snares of the devil…



  3. The gift of Council: It springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God, our own salvation, the good of the Church…



  4. The gift of Fortitude or Power: We receive power and courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice or our religious duties, to be able to fight the world, the devil, and most specially the bad inclinations of our own flesh…



  5. The gift of Knowledge: Points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach Heaven.



  6. The gift of Piety (Godliness): Inspires us with a tender and filial confidence in God, and makes us joyfully embrace with love all that pertains to His service, the liturgy, the sacraments, prayers…



  7. The gift of Fear to the Lord: It fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes as dread, above all timings, to offend Him… God is Holy and Merciful… and he is Just: If the devil would be in Heaven, God wouldn't be God. The "love" and "fear" of the Lord are like the "accelerator" and "brakes" of the car: Without accelerator we will go nowhere, but nobody would dare to drive without brakes!.



Gifts and Virtues:
The gifts of the Spirit are perfections of a higher order than the virtues: The virtues dispose us to follow the impulse and guidance of reason, while the gifts of the Spirit are functionally intended to render the will obedient and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, they make us attentive to the voice of God, love the things of God, and be faithful to the actual grace.

 

The 9 Charisms for Service, of 1Cor.12:

The 9 charisms of 1Cor.12 are the ones mostly practiced by the Charismatics, along with the Resting in the Spirit and the liberation from the devil. They are to serve the community, except the gift of tongues which is "to build up themselves" (1Cor.14:4). The 9 Charisms are mentioned three times in 1Cor.12:8-12, 28-30, and the gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues specially treated in 1Cor.14.

To end 1Cor.12, St. Paul urges us "to strive eagerly for the greater spiritual gifts"… and finishes it "showing us a more excellent way", which is in next chapter 13, the way of Love, of Charity.

These 9 gifts or charisms can be divided in 3 classes:

   1- Three Charisms of the mind:
       - The word of wisdom.
       - The word of knowledge.
       - The discernment of the spirits.

   2- Three Charisms of action:
       - The gifts of healing.
       - The working of miracles.
       - The gift of faith, faith that moves mountains (Mt.21:21, Mk.11:22-23).

   3- Three Charisms of the tongue:
       - Prophecy.
       - Speak in tongues.
       - Interpretation of tongues.


1- The Word of Wisdom (1Cor.12:8):

It is the most important one, as Wisdom is the first of the 7 gifts for sanctification (Is.11:2). It is a "Word", a "utterance" an "expression", you have to say it to have it!. It is the main gift of the ministry of the "apostles", also the first ministry of the lists of 1Cor.12 (28, 29).

Most of the sermons of Jesus are the Word of Wisdom: The Sermon on the Mountain, the Sermon of the Bread of Life, the Sermon of the Last Supper, the Sermon of the End of Times (Mt.5, 24, Jn.6, 13)… they are intended to give us wisdom, to know the secrets of God, to help us to live the wonderful adventure of being a Christian, praise the Lord…. because that's what is being a Charismatic, just a Christian, nothing more, and nothing less!… any preacher is supposed to express the Word of Wisdom.


2- The Word of Knowledge (1Cor.12:8):

It is also a "Word", a "utterance", you have to say it to have it!.… it is less often used in the Gospels, but most impressive: God gives a person an specific knowledge about a person or situation that could not be known otherwise, unless God revealed it.

When Jesus told the Samaritan woman, "you have had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband"… Apparently was not too much to say, but the Samaritan got all excited, he went to the village shouting, "come and see a man who told me everything I did!, could he not be the Messiah?" (Jn.4:18, 28).

When Jesus said to Nathanael, "before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you"… not much… but Nathanael got all excited and replied, "Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (Jn.1:48-49).

Peter told Ananias and Sapphira a Word of Knowledge when they were doing something apparently good, giving a gift to the Church, "Ananias, how is that you let Satan fill your heart and why do you intend to deceive the Holy Spirit by keeping some of proceeds of your land for money? Who obliged you to sell it? And after it was sold, could you not have kept all the money? You have not deceive us but God"… and the results were most impressive: Both, Ananias and Sapphira died instantly! (Acts 5).

In the Charismatic meetings, the Word of Knowledge is also most impressive: "There is a man here who is Mormon, and he is being healed now of his left arm"… and the Mormon comes out shouting and crying, rising the left arm he could not move for 20 years… and he becomes a Catholic… and it is the most exciting episode in that meeting, everybody is praising the Lord with great incredible joy!…


3- The Discerning of the Spirits (1Cor.12:10):

This is an important gift to distinguish the good and bad spirits, the true and false prophets. Because "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as ministers of salvation" (2Cor.11:14-15). Jesus warns us three times that at the last times will come "many" false prophets, and false Messiahs, that will mislead many" (Mt.24:4,11,24). See also 2Pet.2 and 2Tim.3.

A bad spirit can ruin a Prayer Group or an entire Christian parish or community, and Satan can counterfeit any charism of the Spirit … there are many false churches of Christ, many false apparitions… the discerning of the spirits is gift much needed today!.

My advice: The best discerning of the spirits is usually to follow the recommendations of your priest your pastor and bishop. They may even be wrong, but if you follow their advice, God will be with you. They will have to pay for their errors, but you will be safe, God will bless your obedience.


4- Gifts of Healing (1Cor.12:9):

This is a special charism… but every Christian, every believer in Christ has this gift, as promised by Jesus Christ himself, "these signs will accompany those who believe:… They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover": (Mk.16:17-18)… This promise is not just for those who are very saints, or for those who have great authority or knowledge of the Bible or theology, but for "those who believe", for any Christian, for you!… so, the next time you go to visit a sick person, lay hands on him!, in the name of Jesus, you will see wonders!.

Any Christian, and every priest has more healing power than any witch or santero, because these act with the power of the devil, and the Christian with the power of God… and a great problem is that many Christians don't exercise their power!… do it!, in the name of Jesus.

This was an important ministry of Jesus, and an important reason why the crowds were around Him (Mt.4:23-25, Jn.6:2). And every time Jesus send the disciples to preach he gave them, to all of them, the same order: Cast out devils and heal the sick, every disease and sickness! (Mt.10:1,8, Lk.9:1, 10:9,17, Jam.5:15)… and that's what the disciples did with great success (Act.5:12-16, 8:6-8, 19:11-12).

The charism is called "gifts", in plural… because there are many Christians who should do it, many sicknesses to heal, and many ways to do it: By laying on the hands, by anointing with blessed oils, or with blessed water, or by just praying, or using a relic or a crucifix… or God by using a doctor or a nurse or a hospital… just pray for the sick!, in the name of Jesus!, and let Him do it!, praise the Lord.


5- The Working of Miracles (1Cor.12:10):

This gift is different from healing in that it does not depend on the laws of nature. On the contrary, it is an event over nature, against the laws of nature, "a wonder", a "mighty work", produced by the power of God, beyond the power of any known physical law to produce it.

Jesus resurrected 3 persons. In the history of Catholicism, 400 persons have been resurrected. Jesus walked on the water twice, in the history of the Church, over 100 people have done it. Jesus multiplied the bread, and hundred of times have been duplicated in the Church.

And the greatest miracle of millions of Christians is to live with love and joy and peace, when they have nothing but the love of God!…. everybody on earth wants to have love and joy and peace: The President, the multimillionaire, the prostitute, the drug addict, the athlete, that's why they do it for, to have joy and love and peace… and most of them don't have it!, but millions of Christians and nuns and priests and brothers have it without money, nor power, nor fame, nor honors, but they have real constant deep joy and love and peace…. and it is almost funny, after that joy and love and peace on earth, they will have eternal Heaven, praise the Lord!.


6- Faith (1Cor.12:9):

It is probably the most important charism of the gifts of action: The gift of Faith is that power to remove mountains of Mt.21:21 "Truly I say to you: If you had faith and did not doubt, not only could you do what I have done with the fig tree, but you could even say to the mountain: 'Go and throw yourself into the sea!', and it would be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer full of faith, you will receive".

This is the charism of faith: To remove the mountains of hate and envy and prejudice and abortion… and to start a TV program without any money, or to find shelter for millions like Mother Theresa, or to help millions like the Red Cross, or to convert thousands of Hindus without knowing their language like St. Francis Xavier did, or to go on with joy in your hard job or marriage or apostolic work…

There are three kinds of Faith in the Gospels:
    1- Saving Faith, to become a Christian.
    2- The Fruit of Faith, for character, for faithfulness, fidelity (Gal.5:19).
    3- The Charism of Faith, to move mountains, the Faith of power:

And of this kind of Faith as Charism, the Gospels show people with faith, with little faith, and with great faith:

  1. With faith: The leper, the blind, the paralytic… the regular people, they got healed!.


  2. With little faith: It is curious, the Apostles!, the only ones Jesus told them "men of little faith", and several times (Mt.8:26, 14:31, 17:20, Lk 8:25)… in one occasion, Jesus told the disciples, "Because you have little faith. If only you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from there to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you" (Mt.17:20)… and the mustard seed is like powder, in a pinch there are thousands of seeds.


  3. With Great Faith: And it is also curious, the only two people Jesus said they had Great Faith were "two pagans", not Jews: The pagan Roman centurion of Mt.8:10, and the pagan Canaanite woman from outside of Israel, from Tyre-Sidon of Mt.15:28.

We just have to do as the disciples: "The apostles said to the Lord: 'Increase our faith"… and you know the answer (Lk.17:5-6).


7- Prophecy (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14):

This charism, Prophecy, is important, mentioned 22 times in 1Cor.12-14, and for every Christian!: Every Catholic was proclaimed Prophet, Priest and King, at Baptism, and in the Sacrament of Confirmation was confirmed as Prophet, Priest, and King.

A Priest is someone who speaks to God about men, who prays for men... A Prophet is someone who speaks to people about God, or from God, he is a spokesmen of God to men.

This is a gift by which God, through a person, speaks a message to an individual or to the whole Christian community. It is God making use of someone, to state what he thinks about the present situation, what His intention is for the future, or what He thinks they should know or be mindful of right now. It is not primarily or necessarily a prediction of the future.

The prophetic office is for edification, instruction, consolation, and exhortation of the believers of a congregation (1Cor.14:3).

St. Paul explains that an individual of the congregation may prophecy in tongues and them be interpreted by someone who has the later gift (1Cor.14:5).

A word of caution: We already mentioned in the gift of discerning of the spirits that at the last times there will be many false prophets, so, watch out, and discern!.


8- The Gift of Tongues of various kinds (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14):

This is an important charism, mentioned 57 times in the New Testament… and a charism that every Christian should have, as Jesus said: "these signs will accompany those who believe: … they will have the gift of tongues" (Mk.16:17)… "those who believe", all Christians!, do you believe in Jesus?… and still more: It is the only one of these 9 charisms of service which is not only to help the neighbor but also "strengthen oneself" (1Cor.14:4), and we all need to build up ourselves often!.

There are at least two kinds of gifts of tongues:

  1. The one mentioned in 4 verses of Acts 2:4,6,8,11: "They begun to speak other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak", "and the crowd was exited because each heard them speaking in his own native language", and the disciples were all Galilean!… this great miracle of Pentecost has never happened again in the Church… or has it?… the language of "joy" is understood by anybody… if you love someone, he will understand you, no matter if he only speaks German or Russian or Chinese or Japanese… the languages of "joy", and "love", and "peace", are understood by everybody, and they are probably the greatest miracles of the Christians of all times.


  2. The other kind, "speak in tongues", is one of the 9 gifts of the Spirit mentioned three times in 1Cor.12:10,28,30, and explained again in 1Cor.14:1-33, where the gift to "speak in tongues" or "praying in tongues" is mentioned 12 times.

    This "speaking in tongues" is also called "glossolalia" or "baby talk" that nobody can understand. It looks apparently opposite to the one that happened at Pentecost… but it is actually the same… because it is the language of joy and of love and of peace that anybody can understand.

St. Paul mentions both, "speaking in tongues" and "praying in tongues" (1Cor.14:14-15).

Catholic Charismatics believe that God gives the gift of praying in an "unknown tongue" to anyone who seeks it. The person is able to speak this new language of praise to God or repentance, even though the individual does not understand what is being said, it is the Spirit of God within the heart praying. St. Paul says, "the Spirit too comes to the aid of your weakness; for we don't know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexplicable groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will" (Rom.8:26-27).

Moreover, the one who speaks in tongues should pray to be able "to interpret those tongues", so the congregation can be built too with it. In fact, Spiking in Tongues plus the Interpretation of them, amounts to Prophecy (1Cor.14:13, 27-28).


9- The Interpretation of Tongues (1Cor.12:10, and chapter 14):

The Interpretation of Tongues is not a translation of what the other said, but an Interpretation: For example, one may pray in tongues for 2 minutes, and other interprets the message in may be 10 seconds.

When someone in the assembly speaks or prays in tongues should also be someone there who Interprets those Tongues to build up the Church. Otherwise pray in tongues by yourself for your own edification (1Cor.14:27-28). We already mentioned what St. Paul says, that tongues plus interpretation are equivalent to prophecy.


 

 

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