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Spiritual Gifts and Leadership

by Catherine Frakas 13 May 2002
Spiritual (Charismatic) Gifts and Leadership

The following is an excerpt from the Rule of the Order of the Legion of St. Michael, General Directory, nos. 146-162. It contains a summary of Catholic thought about the "charismatic gifts" and give a list of thirty gives listed or implied in Scripture.

146. While recognizing that the spiritual or "charismatic" gifts operate freely in the whole Community, we also recognize that these gifts are given to those who lead the Community in an extraordinary way to help them in their ministry.

147. When electing or appointing leadership, those who have the power to elect or appoint should look for the presence of these gifts already working in a person’s life. At the conferral of office, special prayers should be offered for the reception and strengthening of all the spiritual ("charismatic") gifts necessary for the carrying out of each office.

148. "Charismatic" gifts, however, should not be confused with the Seven Gifts of the Spirit <1> mentioned in Isaiah 11:2. St. Justin Martyr identifies the seven gifts in Isaiah as gifts of the Holy Spirit which were bestowed on Christ in their fullness and which are again given "by Him, from the place of His Spirit’s powers, to all His believers according to their merits." <2> As believers through Baptism and Confirmation, we are recipients of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and are thus recipients of His seven fold gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (reverence). The fullness of these gifts in our lives is determined by our merits, but without these gifts in some measure we would not be able to live the Christian life at all for, as an example, we would be unable to understand, or to have the knowledge and wisdom to know how to live the Christ-life. <3>

149. Although some of these gifts appear to be the same as the "charismatic" gifts, they are not. All seven of these gifts are given to all believers in one measure or another so that it will be possible for them to live the Christ-life. The various "charismatic" gifts, on the other hand, are given to this person or to that person as God so pleases as an additional supernatural and particular gift to enable the person not only to live the Christian life, but to perform ministry and service to buildup the Church and the People of God for the greater glory of God.

150. In addition, it is important to note that while there may be corollaries and similarities to natural talents and abilities, "charismatic" gifts exercise a "supernatural" ability and grace that is not dependent upon any natural talent or upon any disposition or ability that may naturally develop with spiritual maturity. Even then, for a gift to qualify as a "charismatic" gift, as Paul speaks of it, it must have the purposes of service, ministry, and building up of the Church. In addition, one should not confuse gifts with offices. A person may have the gift of pastoring, for example, without being in the office of pastor. <4>

151. Inventory of Spiritual Gifts: Though not intended to be exclusive or exhaustive, the thirty major gifts listed here are all found in one form or another in Scripture. <5> The gifts are arranged by Category Type and include a "brief" definition in parenthesis. Scripture references are listed in brackets:

Sacrificial and Consecrating Gifts (10): <6>

Red Ball Charity (ability to express the love of God to the Church and to the world in such a way that it becomes a model of perfection of the purity and fidelity of our Lord’s love, and which includes in its expression such selfless ways as to perform Heroic Acts of Charity) <7> [Jn 14:23; 1 Cor 13]

Red Ball Virtue <8> (ability to practice Heroic Virtue: the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude) [Wis 8:7; 1 Pet 4:7; Lv 19:15; Col 4:1; Ps 118:14; Jn 16:33; Sir 5:2 (37:27-31); 18:30; Titus 2:12] and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) [2 Pet 1:4; 1 Cor 13:13; Rom 1:17; Gal 5:6; Heb 10:23; Titus 3:6-7; Jn 15:9-12; Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Cor 13; Col 3:14] over an extended period of time out of just and worthy service to the People of God and the Church)

Red Ball Martyrdom (ability to willingly and joyfully sacrifice oneself for the cause of Christ in service to others and to the Church, in fidelity to His Truth, in the face of persecution, ridicule, loss of reputation or position, or other sufferings from the world, friends, or family — even unto death) [1 Cor 13:3]

Red Ball Celibacy (ability to offer to God one’s chastity, with Christ as one’s exclusive Spouse <9>, and thereby renouncing, for the greater glory of God and for His service, one’s right to marriage and family) [1 Cor 7:7; Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7:32]

Red BallPoverty (ability to renounce and be unencumbered with the material riches and things of this world, which distract from the sacred things of God, in order to serve others and the Church that others might come to know the wealth of Christ) [Mt 19:21; Eph 3:9ff; 2 Cor 8:9]

Red BallObedience (ability to renounce the will and desires of the self to order and direct one’s life and thereby to submit to another’s authority, in the service of God and the Church, so that others might know the freedom of being coheirs in God’s kingdom) [Jn 8:29; 4:34; 14:15,21]

Red BallSubstantial Silence (ability to be still and know that God is God <10> in a manner that quiets the self and thereby reaches profound levels of contemplation and meditation in such a way that others may profoundly come to know the presence of the Lord) [Ps 46:10; Zec 2:13]

Red BallSubstantial Solitude (ability to be alone with God without need of the normal human interaction and social intercourse in such a way that others may come to a profound knowledge of the presence of the Divine Companion) [Lk 5:15-16; Mk 1:35; Mt 6:6]

Red BallPrayer (ability to pray boldly, strongly, and unceasingly for others in such a way that they might experience the divine action of Jesus’ love in their lives) [Mt 6:6; Pr 15:8, Phil 4:6; Jas 5:15; Eph 6:18]

Red BallPenance/Mortification (ability to live a life of penance and mortification in such a way that others may turn daily to a conversion to Christ and further to be inspired to the perfection that arouses the soul to God) [2 Tim 2:4; Mt 5:39-48] <11>

Speaking Gifts (10): <12>

Red Ball Apostleship (ability to minister, evangelize, and pastor in cross-cultural, missionary settings) [1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11]

Red Ball Prophecy (ability to preach or proclaim the Truth of God with clarity and to apply it to a particular situation with a view to correction or edification) [Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 28; Eph 4:11]

Red Ball Evangelism (ability to effectively communicate the Faith in such a way as to bring people to Christian conversion; and to effectively disciple others into the fullness of the Christ-life) [Eph 4:11]

Red Ball Pastoring/Shepherding (ability to provide spiritual counsel, food, guidance, and guardianship) [Eph 4:11]

Red Ball Teaching (ability to explain effectively the Truth of God in such a way that those being taught not only understand the Truth in a profound way, but are profoundly inspired by the Truth) [Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11]

Red Ball Exhorting (ability to counsel or to encourage those in spiritual, emotional, or physical need) [Rom 12:8]

Red Ball Word of Knowledge (ability to discover, know, and communicate deep spiritual Truths) [1 Cor 12:8]

Red BallWord of Wisdom (ability to apply and communicate knowledge wisely) [1 Cor 12:8]

Red BallTongues (ability to speak in a language not previously learned for the purposes, when interpreted, of prophecy and edification of the Church) [1 Cor 12:10, 28]

Red Ball Interpretation (ability to interpret a language not previously learned into one’s native language for the purposes of prophecy and edification of the Church) [1 Cor 12:10]

Ministering Gifts (10):

Red Ball Ministry/Helps (ability to lend a hand or to serve others in a supportive role in a joyful and productive way) [Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28]

Red Ball Hospitality (ability to provide open house and warm welcome for those in need, particularly travelers or others in need of shelter) [1 Pet 4:9, 10; cf. Rom 12:13]

Red BallGiving (ability to give of one’s fiscal resources to the Lord’s work with simplicity, generosity, liberality, and delight) [Rom 12:8]

Red Ball Government/Ruling (ability to administer, manage, and lead in God’s work) [Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:28]

Red BallShowing Mercy (ability to be compassionate with strength, cheerfulness, and action to those who are in need as evidenced by Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy) [Rom 12:8]

Red BallFaith (ability to see something that God wants done and to sustain unwavering confidence that God will do it regardless of obstacles) [1 Cor 12:9]

Red Ball Discernment (ability to perceive the spirit of truth from the spirit of error) [1 Cor 12:10]

Red BallExorcism (ability to counsel with people harassed, oppressed, or possessed by demonic attachments and forces, to discern the issues and needs to facilitate healing in those people, and, with fortitude and resolve regardless of attempts to fear or intimidation, to authoritatively facilitate and effect the casting out or casting away of those forces through spiritual counseling and if necessary through "Simple" Rites. (Note: "Solemn" Rites of Exorcism are reserved to a priest designated by a local Ordinary and are conducted only upon the Ordinary’s permission)) [Mk 1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17]

Red Ball Miracles (ability to work an event of supernatural power that is palpable to the senses and is accomplished as a sign of divine commission) [1 Cor 12:10, 28]

Red BallHealing (ability to intervene in a supernatural way as an instrument for the curing of illness and the restoration of health) [1 Cor 12:9, 28]

152. It is the responsibility of the Superior General and the Vicar General for Formation to ensure that all members receive the proper teaching concerning spiritual ("charismatic") gifts. It is especially important to emphasize that God gives these gifts as He wills for the edification, uplifting, and building up of the Church and of the Faithful (1 Cor 12:7; Eph 4:11-13). Thus for the health of the Body, God gives every Christian at least one gift, and some may have several gifts (1 Pet 4:10), so that within the Community all the gifts that are needed will be present and available (1 Cor 12:12-31; 13:13). That is, He will ensure the presence and availability, but we who have been given those gifts must accept the responsibility and stewardship to develop, offer, and implement our gifts, and not to neglect them, for the good of the Church (1 Tim 4:12, 14). We are, in fact, to fan into flame the gifts God has graciously given to us (2 Tim 1:6) so that the Church will be healthy and able to live out its mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

153. In light, however, of misdirected and even false teaching of much of the so-called "charismatic movement" as it has developed in the twentieth century, it is important to reemphasize and for members to understand that we do not all possesses the same "charismatic" gifts — the gifts are varied (1 Cor 12:14) and are distributed by God as He sees fit (1 Cor 12:18), not as we desire.

154. It is particularly important, in the face of misdirected teaching on this subject, to understand that no particular charismatic gift is evidence of spirituality or maturity. No particular gift is evidence of "baptism in the Holy Spirit.". Neither is the manifestation of a "private prayer language" evidence of "baptism in the Spirit" or of some level of maturity or spirituality. The gift of a "private prayer language", as with all gifts, may be given by God to whom He pleases and as He sees fit, thus not everyone will exhibit this manifestation. <13>

155.The true evidence for spirituality, maturity, and "baptism in the Spirit" is the exhibiting of the "Fruit of the Spirit" which is love (1 Cor 13:1-3; Gal 5:22-26).

156. Neither should the concept of "baptism in the Spirit" be confused with a "second act of sacramental grace" as is taught in many Charismatic circles. "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is not a second act of grace but rather the "personally experienced actualization of grace already sacramentally received, principally in baptism and confirmation." <14>Perhaps a more accurate term would be "filling with the Holy Spirit" <15> since existentially that is the phenomenon actually taking place. <16> Baptism in the Spirit, or filling, is an experience whereby we intimately and personally meet our Lord and are filled with His Spirit and power. The first experience of this, in particular, can be very emotional and likened to the evangelical’s experience of being "born again." But since the experience of "filling" cannot be sustained because of our sins, we can lose the filling and power of the Spirit in our lives, or at least have it diminished. <17> The "filling," however, can be regained through acts of penance, devotion, prayer, and submission to God or through God’s providence to facilitate His Will in a particular situation or circumstance.

157. We can speak of a "historical baptism in the Spirit" in the sense that in a particular moment in our past we came to realize for the first time the power and gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives and may have specifically asked God to bring that actualization upon us. From then on, because we now know of the possibility of the intimate filling and power of the Spirit, we can continue to experience and actualize the "filling" of the Holy Spirit, to greater or lessor degrees, as God gives us the grace to do so and as we live out the Christ-life of holiness in our own daily lives.

158. Many people, however, may experience this intimate and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit without ever having an emotional or historical event take place in their lives. This is also true of the "born again" phenomena — some cannot pinpoint a specific date they accepted Christ as their Savior, they did not have an emotional conversion, but they do know they have converted and have proved it in their devotion and lifestyle.

159. Since the spiritual ("charismatic") gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the basic prerequisite for one to be able to have and to exercise such gifts is to have the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is given at Baptism and Confirmation, one does not have to have the existential experience of being "baptized in the Holy Spirit" to have received and to exercise spiritual ("charismatic") gifts. The Scriptures show us readily, in Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, that one does not have to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" or to be spiritually mature in order to have and to exercise the gifts.

160. With all this in mind, when legitimate and God-given spiritual ("charismatic") gifts are manifested they are to be exhibited with order, decorum, and love–God is not a God of chaos and division (1 Cor 14:26-33, 36,40).

161. Thinking or beliefs about spiritual ("charismatic") gifts that is contrary to the basic principles outlined in these paragraphs leads to pride, envy, strife, and division which is sinful and contrary to our charism. Thus, the manifestation of spiritual ("charismatic") gifts shall always be under the direction and discernment of the Superior General and the Chaplain General. We must remember Paul’s warning in 1 Cor 13:1-3:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

162. In addition to spiritual ("charismatic") gifts, in considering members for leadership positions, we also look for the personal qualities listed in 1 Tim 3:1-13. Regardless of these qualifications and guidelines, however, and taking all these factors into consideration, decisions made to elect or appoint someone to any position shall be based upon submission to God’s will and plan for the candidate, the office in consideration, and for our Order, as discerned by those with the power to elect or appoint, even if a person has certain impediments or otherwise may not seem to qualify.

End notes:

<1> Catechism, nos. 1830-1832

<2> St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 87, quoted in "The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, "Encyclopedia, p. 436

<3> 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; cf. Romans 8:5-8, 26-27; Luke 24:44-45

<4> Catechism, nos. 798-801: This section of the Catechism dealing with spiritual gifts is very important to the present discussion and is therefore reproduced here (one should also be referred to other references listed in the Catechism concerning these paragraphs):

798 The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body." He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity: by God’s Word "which is able to build you up"; by Baptism, through which he forms Christ’s Body; by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ’s members; by "the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts"; by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called "charisms"), by which he makes the faithful "fit" and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.

799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.

800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.

801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. "Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good," so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good."

<5> The gifts listed here are either specifically mentioned as spiritual gifts by Paul in Scripture, implied as spiritual gifts (i.e. martyrdom), or inferred based upon the characteristics of spiritual gifts as graces of supernatural ability for the good of the church. Whatever the gift, a Spiritual Gift is one that manifests itself in ways that are extraordinary and beyond what the person might be able to do from natural talents or abilities. Listed here are the various possible gifts suggested by Scripture, Tradition, and experience which may manifest themselves in the extraordinary ways necessary to be considered a "Spiritual Gift". God, in His wisdom and economy, may grant gifts in numerous ways and in numerous areas not listed here. In no way is this list to be considered definitive or exhaustive.

<6> Sacrificial and Consecrating category especially represent gifts of a nature that require a super grace to accomplish to overcome the natural human nature. For example, it is not normal human nature to be self-sacrificing, but some people seem to have an extraordinary grace to be able to do so. Such individuals may have a "gift of penance/mortification" or perhaps even the "gift of martyrdom." It is equally unnatural to human nature to foreswear the right to private ownership, or to marriage, or to independent decision. It is also unnatural for humans to manifest charity or virtue in a consistent and extraordinary way leading to Heroic Acts of Charity. It takes a supernatural grace to accomplish that. Neither is it natural for humans to be silent or alone, yet some are given the charism to do so. Others are given the charism of prayer to pray for others in a way that is beyond normal human ability. Prayer is placed in this category because the manifestation of prayer in this context requires a great deal of self-sacrifice and consecration both in terms of the intensity of the prayer and the focus of the prayer.

<7> Heroic Acts of Charity are acts by which one offers to God all the merits of a good deed performed during life, or all the suffrages and benefits gained after one’s death for the souls in purgatory. This requires an abandonment of all the spiritual graces and benefits one receives in this life to lessen one’s punishments in purgatory so that one’s graces and benefits can be applied to others. Thus one must resolve firmly to live a life without sin so as to avoid the punishments in purgatory.

<8> Catechism, nos. 1805-1829; Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992). This book is highly recommended.

<9> Pope John Paul II, Redemptionis Donum [To Men and Women Religious on their Consecration in the Light of the Mystery of the Redemption], reprinted by St. Paul Editions with permission from L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition (Boston: St. Paul Editions, Daughters of St. Paul, 1984), p. 24

<10> Ps 46:10

<11> Hom. In Cant (also see Catechism, no. 2340):

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.

<12> When discussing Spiritual Gifts, especially these more classical gifts, one should take Paul’s discussion in full context. Please refer to at least Romans 12:4-8, 9-13; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; 13:1-3

<13> In order to qualify as a "spiritual gift," according to Paul, the gift must be manifested and used for the purposes of service, ministry, and building up (edifying) of the Church (cf. GD 159, 161). A Private Prayer Language does not qualify as a "spiritual gift" in this Pauline context. This phenomena may indeed edify the person to whom the experience is given, but such is a "private" benefit.

It is also important to emphasize and repeat the point made in the main text that God may not give this "gift" of a Private Prayer Language to everyone. Not having such a "gift" does not depreciate the level of one’s spirituality, maturity, or grace in any way.

God has commanded us to "test the spirits" (1 Jn 4:1) to see if they are of God. "Testing the spirits" is essential since this "gift" is so easily counterfeited by Satan as is evidenced by the numerous use of this phenomena among Satanist, witch doctors, occultist, and false prophets. Thus, anyone who speaks in tongues, whether it is the classical "public" manifestation or the "private" expression, should have their "gift" tested according to the Biblical norms (1 Jn 4:2-3) to assure that the spirit behind the tongues is indeed the Holy Spirit. The test is to be conducted by a competent third party because of how easy it can be to delude oneself or to be fooled by an evil spirit when confronting the "spirit" all alone.

<14> Almanac, entry entitled, "Charismatic Renewal", p. 303

<15> Acts 2:4; Ephesians 5:18

<16> J. Byrne, ed., Threshold of God’s Promise: A Handbook for those seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Notre Dame, IN: True House, 1970). The Introduction of this book offers explanation of the nature of "baptism in the Spirit":

For some, there has been a failure to make a total act of self-surrender–a personal act of faith–to Jesus. For others who seem to have made this full commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savor, there is a hollowness, a lack of life or power. In many ways these Catholics resemble the disciples before Pentecost. They believe in Jesus, have witnessed the resurrection and Ascension–but are timid and afraid.

And in the chapter, Waiting for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit:

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not magic, nor is it an isolated religious experience. It is a direct consequence of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus who was the anointed One of God. Preparation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit cannot be understood unless it is seen as a powerful deepening of a personal relationship with Jesus. To pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to join with the local community and the whole body of Christ in asking Jesus to release His power in our lives. In order to make such a prayer, we must acknowledge Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

James D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Reexamination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Holy Spirit in Relation to Pentecostalism Today, (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., 1970), p. 226. Dunn reiterates that "baptism in the Spirit" is not an additional act of grace:

According to Luke and Paul, baptism in the Spirit was not something subsequent to or distinct from becoming a Christian ... The gift of the Spirit may not be separated in any way from conversion ...

<17> 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30
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