What are the Charisms of the Holy Spirit?

Charisms are gifts of the Spirit used to gather, sanctify, and minister life in the Church and in the world.

At least 27 gifts are listed in scripture references (Acts 2, 1 Cor 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4) covering a broad range of gifts, from prophecy and healing to mercy, teaching, almsgiving, perseverance, joy, encouragement, hospitality and  leadership.  St. Paul lists nine examples of the Spirit’s manifestations in 1 Cor 12:4-11. These are often associated with the Charismatic Renewal:

Gifts of Grace (charis) The power to speak, sometimes called Word Gifts: Prophecy, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues.

Prophecy is God’s message spoken through an individual to the community. Prophecy does not necessarily mean predicting the future. Paul says the purpose of prophecy is for the “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” of God’s people (1 Cor 14:3).

Tongues (glossolalia) are God’s messages spoken through an individual. Tongues, individually or in a group, as a personal prayer resource without needing interpretation, is akin to the language of lovers, or of a parent to a child. Yielding to tongues opens us up to receive and use the other gifts. There is the phenomenon of speaking publicly in tongues and having someone else understand and express the meaning of tongues. This includes the charism of interpretation.

Interpretation of Tongues is the ability to interpret (not translate) a message given in tongues into the vernacular. Tongues along with interpretation amounts to prophecy.

Gifts of Service (diakonia) The power to know: Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment. These gifts are the ability to express and understand various aspects of God’s nature or plan in a matter that brings effective results.

Wisdom is the facility to offer a solution to a problem or to give insightful teachings that opens the hearer to God’s wisdom.

Knowledge is the ability to clearly communicate God’s word or doctrinal truths, or to know how God is working within an individual or in the community at a particular time.

Discernment is the capacity to know whether a gift or inspiration has at its source the Holy Spirit, is of human origin, or of evil influence. Paul says that the Spirit always bears witness to Jesus (12:3).

Gifts of Works (energema) The power to do: Faith, Miracles, Healing. Jesus’ preaching was always accompanied by cures, miracles and deliverance that led the people to faith and enabled them to experience as well as hear the good news.

Faith is a supernatural infusion to know with full certainty that God will bring something about. (Charismatic faith is not the same as the virtue of faith with which we receive our salvation in Christ).

Miracles are God’s supernatural interventions into the natural realm to demonstrate divine power. Miracles help strengthen faith or bring about faith.

Healing is the manifestation of God’s power to restore a person’s spiritual, psychological, or physical well-being. This may be instantaneous or gradual, and often through the use of natural means.

Charismatic gifts are as important to the Church today as they were in apostolic times. These gifts work to bring unity, to empower and to serve the Church’s needs. The Church has declared: “Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation since they are fitting and useful for the needs of the church.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #12).

[Reference: Charisms © 2009 The National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the United States, Inc.]

“We who are reborn through the sacrament of baptism experience intense joy when we feel within us the first stirring of the Holy Spirit…We begin to have insight into the mysteries of faith; we are able to prophecy and speak with wisdom. We become steadfast in hope and receive the gifts of healing.” (St. Hilary of Poitiers c. 315-367)