Aug 142013

The Church—which the Spirit guides in the way of all Truth and unifies in communion and in works of ministry—is both equipped and directed with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorned with the fruits of the Spirit.

Lumen Gentium Article 4 Paragraph 1 Topic E


Fruits of the Spirit

There are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

That last gift can be confusing because of a limitation of our language. Fear of the Lord is a gift when we understand it as the “a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread—above all things—to offend Him.” The gift is living a life that honors God and avoids what will offend.

These gifts can empower “the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations”. This is important for lumen gentiums who think they could never do the amazing feats like those of the saints. What human is willing to give up his life for someone he hardly knows? Only one empowered by the Spirit as was Saint Maximilian Kolbe when suffered a long, painful death at the hands of the Nazis to spare the life of another man.

As you use your gifts and grow into a lumen gentium, you will begin exhibiting some of the twelve fruits that grow from being led by the Spirit. “The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” Jesus said that “by their fruits you will know them”. When the world starts seeing the fruits of the Spirit in you, they may make fun of you are being old-fashion but take a quick lap around prime-time television any night of the week and that is what happens in a world without “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity”. Let you not be the tree that does not bear good fruit that is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Hierarchical Gifts

Within the Church, gifts of leadership are called hierarchical gifts since the Church is lead in a hierarchy with the pope as supreme leader. These gifts are not listed directly in Isaiah but they are a combination of several of those gifts. In the previous section we compared the leadership styles of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI which is a comparison of two sets of hierarchical gifts. Pope Francis brings a set of gifts to the Chair of Peter that unique to him. These three men are just examples of the uniqueness of each man called into the hierarchy: none are better or worse; they have been called to a leader within the Church “for such a time as this”.

While many laity have a “Bing Crosby” expectation of priests—that they can do everything well, even sing and dance—that is of course not reality. Not every priest is destined to become a bishop or pope. Not all priest are great a leading a parish but they might be excellent at preaching or wonderful confessors or fantastic in offering spiritual care. Some should never be pastors and some should only be assigned to a parish with a school. Some should remain in the seminary as great teachers while others are amazing street-corner preachers and evangelists.

We have to trust the leadership of the Church are helping men discern their calling to the priesthood and then assigning them based on their gifts. The same can be said of the many religious orders. With faith in God, we must trust those leading the many orders are welcoming in those with a sincere calling and then assigning them to the task best suited to their gifts.

Those at the upper levels of the hierarchy also have the duty of listening to the Spirit to steer the direction of the entire Church, individual diocese, and orders.

Leadership gift must also be exercised among the laity. First within our families then within our parishes under the direction of our priest, and within our communities. The world needs more leaders who tackle problems with the power of the gifts of the Spirit.

Practical Tips for Being a Lumen Gentium

Saint Paul the Apostle said to “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.” He was not saying to pray for the gifts you want but to pray that you would be able to humble yourself and accept the gifts the Spirit has to offer you. Sure, it might be nice to be a bishop or even pope and have people so excited to see us and have buildings named in our honor but that is not fruit of the Spirit. What we should be striving for is never offending God (remember fear of the Lord) and living a life worthy of our calling.