The Holy Spirit & His Gifts

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and the one who inspired Sacred Scripture. The title of ‘spirit’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘ruah,’ which means breath, air, or wind. Jesus calls him the “Paraclete”, or “he who is called to one’s side.” From this comes the name of our diocesan newsletter, Parakletos. We ask the Holy Spirit to “come alongside” our archdiocese and guide it towards Christ.  


Throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by fire, like the tongues of fire that descended on the apostles at Pentecost, by water, a cloud, an anointing, a dove, and many other forms. You may be most familiar with artistic depictions of the Holy Spirit as a dove.  


You can ask the Holy Spirit for help at any moment. He is an advocate who intercedes on our behalf, inspires our minds and hearts, and helps us discern God’s will. In scripture, he gives the apostles courage in the face of their fear and inspires their words. 


“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26)

In moments when we struggle to find the words to pray, or in times of doubt or confusion, we can ask the Holy Spirit for aid. Simply invoke him by saying, “Come, Holy Spirit,” or pray the following prayer: 


“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.

John 14: 26

Through the Holy Spirit, God has also given each baptized Christian two kinds of spiritual gifts: The gifts of the Holy Spirit, and charisms. Click on each to learn more. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These are supernatural gifts given to us at baptism and sealed in the sacrament of confirmation. They are meant for us to keep. They help us to grow in holiness and aid us in our journey towards heaven. The struggle against sin and temptation is difficult, and we can ask the Holy Spirit to stir up these gifts within us to give us help.

Charism comes from a Greek word in the New Testament that means “favor” or “gratuitous gift.” These are unique gifts God has given people to serve others and build up the Church. Given supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, they differ from natural talents and cannot be used for evil. Each baptized Christian has at least one charism.  


“Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church. Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 951).  


The Catherine of Sienna Institute offers the “Called & Gifted” program to help you discern your charisms. This is a wonderful way to learn more about the specific gifts God has given you and how you can better utilize them. Visit their website for more information.