April 27 was Confirmation day at my parish. When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us so that we have God’s life in us. We become the adopted sons and daughters of the Father and disciples of Jesus. In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit comes to us again to deepen this life in us, helping us live as mature disciples of Jesus.
When we received Confirmation (which was probably a really long time ago if you are reading this), we learned that the Holy Spirit gives us seven gifts. You probably had to memorize them. Do you remember them today?
When I teach Confirmation candidates, I make the point that the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit do not work like magic. Like any gift we receive, we need to make an effort to use them. If you put a gift away in a closet and forget about it, it does you no good.
As we celebrate this Easter season and the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Church and in each of us, maybe we can recall and appreciate the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have received.
Fear of the Lord: This gift helps us remember that we are radically dependent on God for everything. It is “fear” in the sense of respect and reverence. Fear of the Lord reminds us that we need to keep our lives completely centered on God. (For this reason, I always put this gift first, as a foundation for the other gifts.)
Knowledge: This gift does not magically infuse information into our heads, but helps us more easily grasp truths about God, our faith, and ourselves when we are presented with them.
Understanding: This gift helps us make connections among truths of faith so that we get a fuller picture. Knowledge gives us individual puzzle pieces. Understanding helps us put them together.
Counsel: This gift helps us make good judgments when faced with decisions. It also helps us guide other people.
Fortitude: This gift helps us do the right thing when it is difficult.
Reverence: This gift helps us recognize and respond to God’s presence. For example, we sense God’s presence in church, where the Blessed Sacrament is present, and whenever sacraments are celebrated, or blessings are given. We respond with an attitude of reverence and respect. This gift also helps us recognize God’s presence in other people and treat them accordingly.
Wisdom: I would argue that wisdom is the greatest of the seven gifts. Wisdom is, in a sense, a participation in the mind of God Himself. To be wise means to know the true value of things and to see life with clarity, from God’s perspective, so to speak.
As I tell my students, look at these seven gifts and think about one or two that you believe you need the most. Ask the Holy Spirit on a daily basis to increase those gifts in you. You will start to notice the difference they make. Your Confirmation will no longer be a distant memory. It will become something that impacts your life every day.
By Father Kevin Bobbin, parochial administrator of St. John the Baptist, Pottsville, and chaplain of Nativity BVM High School, Pottsville and the Diocesan Homeschool Community.