Archive for the ‘Virtues/Gifts/Fruits’ category

Nailed It!

July 9, 2014

Since I am in a huge period of discernment and because I stalk  follow Jen Fulwhiler and her blog, I decided to try out the Called and Gift CD set along with the Spiritual Gifts Inventory that she recommend.  Both were developed as a workshop by the Catherine of Siena Institute
to help people discern with which charisms they may have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to aid them in their vocation.  In other words, the Holy Spirit sometimes has specific ways that He wants to use each individual person within his or her vocation.  The theory is that if we can discern how the Holy Spirit normally uses us then we can more fully cooperate for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

Anywho, even though I thought my chances of actually being able to listen to all five CDs without a bazillion interruptions were slim, I actually found several times where I was able to listen to them with few interruptions.  (It had to be the Holy Spirit at work.)  I filled in the circles on my inventory, and eagerly looked to see where my high scores are.  Now the program doesn’t promise that those are the spiritual gifts that you have, but the inventory is supposed to help you narrow down which ones to investigate more thoroughly.

The program tells you to look at your top five.  My highest score was for the charism of Knowledge.  The next two that I remember were Evangelism and Writing.  And I totally can’t remember what the other two were, and my answer sheet is in one of these various piles of paper stacked around my kitchen.

I did all of this in May.  While I have kept it on my mind the past two months, it has been on the back burner while I’ve been dealing with other issues.   A couple of days ago, though, I came across the Spiritual Gifts Resource Guide that I had purchased along with the CDs and the inventory.  (It was in one of the piles of paper stacked around my kitchen.)  I sat down with it and went straight to the pages on Knowledge.

The program describes the charism of Knowledge as such:  Knowledge empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s truth through diligent study and intellectual activity that enables us to better understand God, ourselves, and the universe.

Well, that sounds pretty spot on for me.  God’s truth?  Check! Study? Check!  Intellectual activity? Check!  Making connections about how everything applies to God, myself, humans in general, and the universe? Check!

So, then I look at the Scripture and Catechism references.  Of course, the first three are from three of my favorite Old Testament books:  Proverbs, Wisdom, and especially Sirach.  I love me some Sirach.  I fell in love with it when I was bored to death on Senior retreat when they locked us in a chapel for what felt like two hours to journal and all I had was my Bible to read.  The book of Sirach just cuts to the heart of things with no b.s.

The first book on the recommend reading list is The Dumb Ox:  Saint Thomas Aquinas by G.K. Chesterton which I have been slowly been making my way through.  The Patron Saints for this charism include Thomas Aquinas and Edith Stein.  Thomas Aquinas is, well, Thomas Aquinas.  This is the second time in the past few years, though, that I have been pointed towards Edith Stein with no real previous knowledge of her.  I may have to read her biography next.

Here’s where the punch line comes, though.  These are some possible expressions for those with the charism of Knowledge:





RCIA/religious education

home schooling

Did you catch that last one?  HOME SCHOOLING!!  I literally laughed out loud when I read that.

I guess the Holy Spirit was leading me even when I didn’t realize it.  He’s sneaky like that.  I will still be homeschooling for at least another year or two (God willing), but I will need to start investigating other avenues (hopefully paying ones) for the Holy Spirit to put me to work.  But it looks like the inventory really had my number.

I can’t wait to see what else the guide has to say about the other charisms in which I tested high.



Give Peace a Chance

July 15, 2012

It was really hard to find good descriptions for the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  I was really struggling to put together a working definition for Christian peace.  Most dictionary definitions just describe peace as a cessation from war or strife.  The word peace conjures up images of peace signs, peace fingers, bed-ins, and pot-smoking hippies.

But this just didn’t seem like the right connotation of peace in a daily Christian context.  I mean I could certainly use that definition of peace to try to forestall sibling bickering (and hitting and hair-pulling).  The idea of “turning the other cheek” also fits into that as well.  The Sign of Peace at Mass is meant to reconcile us with others, especially those whom we have been at war with in some form, before we receive the Eucharist.

I couldn’t help thinking, though, about how this idea of peace seems to be almost at odds with the virtue and gift of Christian fortitude, that inspires us to stand up for what is right in the sight of God.  Fortitude calls us to go to war with sin and the proclivities of the dominant culture.  With the current political climate, Catholics have seemed to need fortitude more than peace.

I still felt like there was something missing in the definition of peace as the antonym of war.  What is the point of peace as people like John Lennon meant it?  Yes, war can have devastating consequences for all people involved; there can be so many innocent victims.  And it is very hard to support a war that one feels has no positive purpose and only offers destruction.  But the whole beauty queen, utopian vision for World Peace discounts the possibility that there are ever just reasons for a war.  Why should we all just get along?

Then I went to Holy Hour and Eucharistic Adoration for the first time in months.  And I felt the peace of Christ just wash over me.  I started to feel the full context of what peace really is.  I sat there with the Lord and I felt a certain calm that I have not experienced in ages.  All of the disappointment, stress, anxiety, and discontent that I had been feeling for so long just seemed to dissipate into the quiet.

That’s when I was led by the Lord to this definition of peace to share with my children:

Peace is the calmness that results from our trust in God’s love even in the face of disappointment, hostility, and unfortunate circumstance.  It brings restfulness and contentment instead of anxiety and anger.  Through peace we can discern the right course of action for dealing with a problem.

During Holy Hour we say the following prayer:  “May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.”

When most people long for a “peaceful death” they imagine a non-violent death where they just pass in their sleep.  But for a Christian, a “peaceful death” should be any manner of passing, secure in the knowledge of God’s love for us.

26 Virtues, Gifts, and Fruits

June 17, 2012

I thought I would post my full list of the Seven Virtues, Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Seven Fruits of the Holy Spirits and their working definitions for anyone who is interested.  Most of the definitions were either copied straight from Wikipedia or adapted from various dictionaries and online sites.  If/when I get around to writing separate posts about each one I plan to link to them from this list.

7 Virtues

  • FAITH:  A free gift from God that allows you to be aware of His presence in your life and invites you to want Him to become a greater part of your life.
  • HOPE:  Confidence that God will never abandon you or forsake you, because not death, nor life, nor any living creature, nor circumstance can come between you and God’s love.
  • LOVE:  Your willingness to work for the good of another, whether or not you “feel like it.”
  • PRUDENCE:  The practical “know-how” that helps you apply Christian virtues to the specific circumstances of your everyday life.
  • JUSTICE:  Your desire to help others achieve all that God wants them to have, and your personal commitment to work for the common good of your family, Church, and community.
  • TEMPERANCE:  Your ability to enjoy good things without letting them become a distraction or obsession.
  • DILIGENCE:  Diligence includes doing all of our actions with and work with care and preciseness, persevering when things are difficult, budgeting our time effectively, and guarding against laziness.

7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

  • UNDERSTANDING:  In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.
  • COUNSEL With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right.
  • WISDOM:  We see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of life take on deeper meaning. We see God as our Father, appreciate the dignity of others, and find God in all things.
  • COURAGE:  Your willingness to live Christian virtues, even when doing so causes you to risk personal discomfort or rejection/persecution from others.
  • KNOWLEDGE:  The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts.  With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God.
  • PIETY:  With the gift of piety/reverence, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.
  • FEAR OF THE LORD:  With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.  As result, we seek to please God and we fear disappointing Him.

12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

  • MODESTY:  When we are modest we are careful not to attract inappropriate attention to ourselves in the way we dress, the way we act, or the things that we say.
  • CHASTITY:  When we are chaste we are clean in our thoughts, words, and actions.  We avoid watching, reading, thinking, or doing things that we know are inappropriate.  We treat our bodies and the bodies of others with respect and dignity.
  • JOY:  Joy is the sense of delight that arises within us in the presence of someone or something we love.  We see the goodness of God; we recognize it for what it is; we love it; and we enjoy it.  Joy is something that we must seek in our everyday life and in times of trouble.
  • PEACE:    Peace is the calmness that results from our trust in God’s love even in the face of disappointment, hostility, and unfortunate circumstance.  It brings restfulness and contentment instead of anxiety and anger.  Through peace we can determine the right course of action for dealing with a problem.
  • PATIENCE:  Patience requires us to bear delays, annoyance, misfortune, and pain without complaint.  It also includes quiet and study perseverance in the face of frustrations and set-backs.
  • KINDNESS:  Kindness entails doing things for others that are gentle, considerate, and helpful even when we can expect no reward or we don’t feel like it.
  • GOODNESS:  Goodness includes being well-behaved, friendly, honorable, agreeable, and pleasant.
  • FAITHFULNESS:  We are called to be loyal to the Lord in our obedience to and understanding of His teachings and those of His Church on earth.  It also means being trustworthy and reliable in our relationships with others.
  • GENEROSITY:  When we are generous we are liberal in giving or sharing the gifts that we have been given for the well-being or happiness of others.  This includes our money, our things, our talents, and our time.
  • GENTLENESS:  Gentleness requires that we handle the feelings and bodies of others with care, sensitivity, and politeness.  One of the best ways to express gentleness is through the use of good manners.
  • SELF CONTROL:  Self-control is the act of restraining one’s actions, emotions, or desires in the best interest of ourselves and others.  When we practice self-control we avoid impulsive reactions to events around us or feelings within us.
  • CHARITY:  In addition to giving our time or money to help others in need, charity also requires that we practice leniency in judging others and humility in our interactions with God and others.

Virtues, Gifts, and Fruits

June 4, 2012

In the book Parenting with Grace by Greg and Lisa Popcak, they offer several suggestions for virtues-based training.  One of which is to choose a virtue of the day to discuss and have the family give extra practice.  By virtues, they don’t just mean the Seven Theological and Cardinal Virtues, but they also include the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit:

I’ve been spending the first few days trying to put together working definitions for each one.  Meanings for the various Virtues and the Gifts were not to hard to put together from various internet sources, but the Fruits have been a whole other story.  Most websites just list them without any explanations, the Wikipedia article is extremely dense, and the common dictionary definitions don’t adequately describe what the fruits look like when practiced by a Christian.

As I worked on my little project, I became increasingly aware that  my kids aren’t the only ones who need to be taught about these various virtues and how to live them out. For instance, I realized that I had neglected the fruit of charity the other day when I presumed the worst intentions from my husband instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt.   I may need to practice what I am trying to preach as much, if not more, than my children do.

And I believe that practice is the right word indeed.  Virtue is commonly defined as conformity to a standard of moral and ethical principles.  I think that in some ways I am very good at living a virtuous life at a macro level.  I know the moral and ethical standards of the Catholic Church, I love to explain them and defend them, and I live them in “big ways” such as never missing Mass or refrain from using artificial contraception.  However, on a micro level, in my day to day life and relationships, I don’t think that I do quite as well as I could and should.  I need to practice these virtues over and over again every minute of every day if I want to perfect them and if I truly want to know, love, and serve the Lord.

The Church teaches that we are given the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and they are strengthened when we receive the sacrament of Confirmation, just as the Apostles did at their baptisms and when the Holy Spirit descended upon them on Pentecost.  These gifts are like seeds planted in our souls, and if we cultivate them they will bear the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  But even when trees begin to bear fruit they must still be pruned and protected in order for them to reach their juicy ripeness.

As the Popcaks try to drill again and again in their book, virtues-based parenting is not just a series of techniques and tricks.  It is about making decisions in all aspects of our life (including parenting) using the virtues, gifts, and fruits that God has given us in order that we may more fully imitate Him.  On a practical level, this starts with learning about and practicing these virtues, gifts, and fruits and being able to recognize when we have failed to live up to them.  I’ve also realized that each of us may struggle with certain virtues over others.

So, I’ve put together working definitions of all 26 virtues, gifts, and fruits and printed them out onto 4 x 6 index cards.  I haven’t exactly decided the best way to use them yet.  (Post a new one everyday?  Post two or three a week?  Discuss them at dinner time?  Post multiple copies around the house as reminders?)  But through this process I have spent a lot of time thinking about these things, and I might from time to time share my thoughts and experiences with a specific virtue, gift, or fruit.  As usual, I mainly write for myself as a way to clarify thoughts and ideas, but I am humbled if anyone else is able to get any use out of my mental ramblings.  So, I have added a new category just for those particular posts, starting with this one.