Gifts of the Holy Spirit are plentiful and occur frequently, but most people don’t recognize them. At there most common they are the little delights and extras that make the receiver feel good. At their most profound they are visionary happenings that knock that have unbelievable written all over them. Examples are the visions Saint Bernadette of Lourdes had of The Blessed Mother; Fatima occurrences where three children on May 13, 1917, began seeing the Beautiful Lady, the Mother of Jesus, once a month for several months.
These are unusual, but smaller versions do happen from time to time and probably are more numerous than is realized. And while it is true, some believers in the Holy Spirit are so tuned in to the reality of life as taught and demonstrated by Jesus Christ, every delightful and pleasing association is immediately credited to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. An example: When one is weary and has traveled far and the sun is beaming down and one is perspiring, tired, and about to give up the journey, a gentle breeze softly caresses their face and their mood is instantly rescued from negativity. According to Reverend G. Most, an EWTN writer, “gifts from the Holy Spirit are of two types, sanctifying and charismatic. The gentle breeze example is of the common, occurring often gifts that most enjoy but never remember to say ‘thank you’.
Gifts that sanctify
The two already mentioned gifts are clearly seen as having been given in order to sanctify souls and make believers out of nonbelievers and to bring God’s children closer to him. Healing of the soul, mind, and body can be seen as the results of this type of gift. Undeniable proofs of miracles having been formed are documented. These take place today, an example being the miracles that are associated with the upcoming sainthood of two recent beloved religious persons, both Christian leaders, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
This type of gift is accompanied by grace and the EWTN author explains this ‘grace’ is of two kinds, actual and habitual. Perhaps, in way of explanation, one prays for discernment, the way to understand some of the conflicts or joys that are happening. Without this wisdom from higher-up sources, it is nigh impossible to know whether the urge to do something is good or is it bad. (Should I quit my good paying job and follow my heart and do as Jesus taught, teach the world how to love one another, is one type of question one might ask of God. Actions are bad when they go against what God has in mind for the petitioner. Yes, the devil could be listening in and will see an opportunity for himself, so the doubt was genuine. With the grace of God, the right choice will be made.
Habitual gifts are regular graces received that don’t intend to make any big splashes but are those lesser gifts that keep the person tuned in to God. It is what causes neighbors to help neighbors, and is what makes saints out of everyday people. This is the list known only to God, but the sainthood list the Catholic Church maintains is for teaching purposes. These are models that would-be-saints are to emulate. Well, the lesser-knowns’ who are on their way can be seen feeding the hungry, risking their own lives to save another, and in general, living by God’s rules and not by that of the world. The cross they carry may be known only to them and their God, but that takes away none of its authenticity.
Charismatic gifts are of the ordinary and extraordinary, so say the author mentioned above. An example of that is to see those individuals who have gifts above and beyond what is ordinarily seen. They are no different from most people, God has given each something special, but not everyone uses their gifts for sanctification. The speaker who explains the church’s teaching, or any kind of positive teaching that aims toward goodness instead of badness, is the beneficiary of this type of gift.
And finally, gifts of the Holy Spirit need not be seen or understood to be gifts, they are graces that enable people to rise to the occasion when they are needed to do God’s work. Unbelievable strength at rescuing others from burning buildings, working twenty-four-hour shifts at disaster relief centers, are all gifts of the holy spirit. Something beyond the ordinary is often called for in emergencies and these, in the truest sense of the word, are gifts of the Holy Spirit.