Are there only 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit? What about the ones mentioned in 1 Cor 12, such as healing and miracles? And, furthermore, why don’t we hear about these at Confirmation? Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean and Associate Professor of Moral Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, tackles questions such as these in this his November column for The Catholic Telegraph.
Dear Father: When the church teaches confirmandi about the gifts of the Spirit, why do they refer to Isaiah 11, 2? Since Confirmation is linked to the New Testament Pentecost, why not teach the gifts referenced in 1 Corinthians 12? I’ve never heard a priest or bishop talk about these gifts, but this letter indicates that we should all expect to receive at least one of them for the purpose of building the church. When did the church stop teaching these gifts and why?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1302) states: “It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring the Holy Spirit as once granted to the Apostles at Pentecost.” Confirmation accomplishes two goals: to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit and to anoint and strengthen the person to be more Christ-like through the gift of the Holy Spirit for the evangelizing mission of the Church.
In this light, we might better be able to approach your question. One reason bishops often preach on the passage from Isaiah is that in the prayer before the imposition of hands upon the confirmandi, the prayer itself addresses the first goal, making reference to the gifts mentioned in Isaiah: Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
Just before this prayer is prayed by the bishop, the people are invited to pray that the Spirit will strengthen those to receive the sacrament with his gifts. The object of this invitation appears to be, but is not limited to, the gifts mentioned in the prayer which immediately follows—a clear reference to Isaiah 11:1-3.
Continue reading The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Feature photo, Pentecost,courtesy of Creative Commons/Wikipedia.