The reality of the third Divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, was confirmed by Jesus and Jesus revealed the great blessings a man can receive through the Holy Spirit; through the powerful and life-changing Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit a man can successfully grow in holiness and happiness on earth and be received into the eternal happiness of Heaven.
God’s Gift of the Holy Spirit
God, in His infinite wisdom, power and mercy, has deliberately given Himself in the Holy Spirit so that every man of good will can become a Saint in Heaven.
For those who are blessed to receive the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Holy Spirit graciously grants The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit as supernatural powers from God to help a man grow in the Virtues and battle against Vices. Traditionally, each of The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit offer special help which correspond to the seven core Virtues (four Cardinal Virtues and three Theological Virtues) as described below.
The Holy Spirit is given to a Catholic man in Baptism and Confirmation
The Holy Spirit is an essential part of a man’s adoption as a son of God in Baptism. It is the Holy Spirit who gives a man the gift of the Theological Virtue of Faith which allows him to believe in God and His Holy Catholic Church and to present himself for the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 1215, 1226-1227, 1278).
The cleansing of a man from sin in Baptism is also accomplished by the Holy Spirit who gives a man sanctifying Grace which wipes away Original Sin and all the man’s committed sins up to that point, and resides in the soul of a man for the rest of his life.
At the same time, the Holy Spirit gives the Theological Virtues of Hope and Charity, along with The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (detailed below) which guide and strengthen a man’s ability to grow in the Theological and Cardinal Virtues (see Pursuing Holiness in the Virtues, p. ___) as he continues on his pilgrimage to Heaven while on earth.
Following Baptism, the Sacrament of Confirmation (CCC 1285) further builds and strengthens a man’s ability to grow in holiness through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which reside in a man’s soul.
The Holy Spirit remains with a Catholic man through his entire life
As a Catholic man moves forward in his life, he will be cleansed of the sins he commits in the future if he repents and confesses his sins in the Sacrament of Penance and nourished in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which are made effective by the sending of the Holy Spirit by God the Father and God the Son.
Cleansed of sin which separates man from God and strengthen by the Sacraments, a man also is able to more fully accept the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1830) which continue to strengthen the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity) and also super-naturalize the Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance) so that the man can avoid sin and think, speak and act in holy ways in growing love and service of God and others. Saints are made through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps a Catholic man overcome the obstacles to Sainthood
God, in His infinite mercy, desires for every man, particularly every Catholic man, to be received as a Saint into Heaven. Infinite in wisdom, God knows of the obstacles a Catholic man faces as he seeks to ascend on the path to Sainthood and also knows how to help a man overcome the obstacles. With His infinite Power, God gives every Catholic man who zealously seeks to be united with Him, the Holy Spirit who resides in a man’s heart from the moment of Baptism to help the man of good will who remains in a state of Grace (is not guilty of any mortal sin) to overcome any and all obstacles to Sainthood:
The Holy Spirit helps a Catholic man resist sin
A baptized Catholic man is blessed to have the Holy Spirit residing in his soul during his time on earth. The Holy Spirit stands ever ready to alert the man to recognize when the desire to sin arises, reminds him in his conscience of the evil of sin, and reveals that if he chooses to sin he has failed to love God who perfectly loves the man.
As with any act of the Holy Spirit within a man, because the man has been given free will, the Spirit will remain patiently latent and not act in the soul of a man who rejects the Holy Spirit by freely choosing to embrace sin.
Every Catholic man who sincerely desires and acts to overcome sin is blessed with abundant supernatural help from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit protects a Catholic man against the Attacks of Satan
God, who has absolute dominion over Satan and men, allows men to be tested by Satan, who constantly prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls, but God never abandons the faithful Catholic man to go it alone against Satan.
The power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in the Catholic man who fervently desires His help; the more zealously a Catholic man desires to battle against sin and seeks the help of the Spirit, the greater will be the action of the Spirit in a man’s life.
The overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit terrifies Satan and his demons, and Satan flees from the man strong in the Spirit, preferring to attack the weak who are prone to sin and have not embraced the Spirit in their lives.
While a man has little or no power against Satan on his own, with the Holy Spirit, he becomes invincible to Satan.
The Holy Spirit helps a Catholic man grow in Virtue
Jesus commands that men must be perfect (Mt. 5:48), a command He explicitly chooses to make and one He demands that every Saint must achieve; there are no imperfect souls in Heaven, only the Saints who are perfect.
Given that it is practically impossible for men to achieve perfection, Jesus confirms that nothing is impossible for God (Mt 19:26), promises to send the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16), and fulfills His promise when He sends the Holy Spirit to men (Acts 2:1-4, 38).
The Holy Spirit helps every Catholic man do the impossible which is to ascend towards perfection in this life.
Those who remain in a state of Grace and are free from mortal sin at the time of their death will be perfected and purified through the agonizing fires of Purgatory, and will be sustained by the Holy Spirit during his trial of purification.
While on earth, every Catholic man who battles sin and remains free of mortal sin receives the constant help of the Holy Spirit to move towards perfection by supernaturally acting to perfect a man’s virtues.
If a Catholic man is unfortunate enough to fall into a state of mortal sin, the Holy Spirit immediately withdraws His Gifts, for by choosing to commit mortal sin with his own free will, a man has betrayed and rejected the help of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit will not force Himself upon a man who rejects him.
Thanks to the mercy of God, every repentant Catholic man who falls into mortal sin can be forgiven of his sins in the Sacrament of Penance, be returned to a state of grace and reconciled with the Holy Spirit; immediately, the Holy Spirit again begins to help the man in the Spiritual Combat.
The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
While the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1830) are given to men at their Baptism and Confirmation, when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a Catholic man’s soul, the Holy Spirit patiently builds upon a man’s willingness to reject sin and his desire to grow in holiness, and allows His Gifts to be more fully present in a man’s life over time based on the Holy Spirit’s perfect understanding of a man’s need and readiness.
The Holy Spirit gives each man the necessary supernatural inspiration at the right time, in the right place, with the right and necessary specific Gifts so a man can achieve the mission God created and calls each individual man to achieve. The more a Catholic man seeks and cooperates with the Gifts of the Spirit, the more fully will the Holy Spirit provide Gifts to the man.
While every man is different at each stage of his life and his ability to accept and cooperate with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit varies, Pope St. Gregory the Great proposed a “logic” for how the Holy Spirit uses the Gifts in a man’s life as he ascends in holiness on the spiritual pilgrimage towards Sainthood and Heaven:
The Gift of the Fear of the Lord
The Fear of the Lord is considered the first Gift, a necessary gateway towards a man’s continuing conversion.
Working with the right fear of just punishment for sin, the Gift of the Fear of the Lord supernaturally intervenes to lead a man to realize his sinful smallness, God’s greatness and mercy, and gives a man the fervent desire to always seek to please God out of gratitude, to never offend Him and to never be separated from Him.
At the same time, the Gift of the Fear of the Lord also leads a man to increasingly hate the sins which have separated him from God in the past, feel deep shame, guilt and contrition for his sins, and to battle against those sins; the man becomes increasingly detached from exclusively seeking pleasures from the world and more attached to God.
The Gift of Piety
Following the increasing desire to reject sin and draw closer to God through the Gift of the Fear of the Lord, the Gift of Piety gives a man a strong spiritual impulse which leads him to show his gratitude to God through deliberate acts of religion (prayer, sacrifice, mortifications, the Sacraments, vocations, etc.) and more broadly build a life which seeks to honor God all the time in all things, not just during times of religious acts.
The Gift of Piety protects the man from simply going through the motions of religious acts and supernaturally fills his heart with great joy in honoring and showing gratitude to God.
The Gift of Piety also supernaturally leads a man to be filled with a new ability, desire and action to honor and love every other person who are justly owed respect and love; the Spirit reveals to the man that every person he meets was purposefully created and is personally loved by God, which leads a man to desire to love others as God loves them.
The Gift of Knowledge
As a man honors God and others through the inspiration of the Gift of Piety, he is moved to a deeper knowledge of how to live a more holy life in the world through the Gift of Knowledge.
The Gift of Knowledge leads a man to grow in his knowledge of the faith through catechesis and through direct supernatural intervention by the Spirit to help him to make better and more consistent practical choices in daily life to do good and avoid evil.
The man moves from living a strictly worldly life in which he attempts to “do his best to be good” to living a life which constantly seeks and has the supernatural Gift of Knowledge to better discern good and evil and make practical choices to live a holy life that leads him and many others towards Heaven.
The Gift of Fortitude
While the Gift of Knowledge helps a man know and understand how to aspire to live a holy life, the Gift of Fortitude gives a man the supernatural strength to live out a holy life through the challenges of living in the world.
The Gift of Fortitude supernaturally lifts a man’s vision to have the confidence to attempt and achieve great, and even impossible things for God, to face dangers with heroic courage, to persevere to achieve the great things God is calling him to do to build the Kingdom of God, and to suffer the inevitable sorrows he will have to endure in the world.
The Gift of Fortitude gives a man supernatural strength to face persecution and martyrdom for the sake of Christ Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.
The Gift of Counsel
As the Gift of Fortitude helps man resolutely seek to carry out God’s will, the Gift of Counsel gives man the supernatural ability to make prudent choices as difficulties and challenges arise.
The Gift of Counsel helps a man perceive God’s will in all difficulties and supernaturally know instinctively what he should choose to do in a particularly difficult or uncertain situation to serve God.
The Gift of Counsel supernaturally enhances man’s natural pursuit of Prudence, giving man the ability to be docile to the Spirit, to easily sort out various different alternatives, and to make firm and confident choices that best serve God which the man acts upon.
The Gift of Understanding
As the man continues to navigate the spiritual life and uses all the Gifts of the Spirit in the spiritual assent, the Gift of Understanding works to help a man continually grow in perceiving and penetrating the truths of Christ and His Holy Catholic Church, and how all of the experiences and interactions in his whole life, including family, career, and service to the Church, are working together to lead him and many others to God.
The Gift of Understanding supernaturally gives man a comfort and confidence as he lives his day to day life, as he continually realizes how all things work together to serve God.
The Gift of Wisdom
Building off the growing awareness and perception of the truth of God in worldly things through the Gift of Understanding, the highest gift, the Gift of Wisdom, gives a man a growing experience and wisdom of the divine things of God.
The Gift of Wisdom helps a man to see beyond worldly things to the supernatural realities of God by drawing him into actual union with God, during which a man “experiences” the reality of God, and God directly infuses a man’s mind with His wisdom.
The Gift of Wisdom protects a man against various false interpretations of the faith and allows a man to see God’s working in the world despite apparent contradictions and confusions.
A man who grows in his ability to receive the Gift of Wisdom, more and more sees life in the world from a “God’s eye view”, is blessed for God to work directly through him and to experience the peace and joy that passes human understanding.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are holy acts which God allows a Catholic man to routinely and consistently take in his life when he cooperates with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; these fruits of the Spirit are signs of the eternal glory that awaits every Catholic man who seeks to become a Saint in Heaven (CCC 1832).
The Analogy of a Fruit Farmer
To understand the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, consider an analogy of how a man is able to harvest actual fruit:
The analogy of the fruit farmer
A man desires to become a farmer who grows fruit. He secures some land and fruit seeds. The man learns how to farm and applies his skills to till the soil and plant the seeds, and the seeds mysteriously sprout and the plants spring up. Relying on the sun and the rains, the man fertilizes, cultivates, and prunes the plants as they grow, and puts forth the effort to harvest the yield of fruit when it is ripe.
The fruit is a gift from God which the farmer cannot create on his own, but he is blessed to receive if he is prepared to cooperate with God. If a man chooses not to be a fruit farmer, the soil and the seeds remain dormant and there is no fruit.
The meaning of the analogy
The analogy reveals how every Catholic man who cooperates with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit comes to yield the Fruits of the Holy Spirit:
A Catholic man desires to grow in holiness and seek sainthood. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit can only bear the Fruits of the Holy Spirit when a man desires to grow in holiness and puts forth the effort to cooperate with God to help the Fruits grow in his life.
Every Catholic man secures the Gifts of the Holy Spirit when he is Baptized and Confirmed in God’s Holy Catholic Church; this is analogous to the soil, the fruit seeds which mysteriously sprout, grow, ripen, and bear fruit, and the sun and the rain.
A Catholic man cooperates with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit by turning away from sin, desiring to grow in holiness in the Holy Catholic Church, putting forth the effort to cultivate his faith and pulling out the weeds of sin, fertilizing himself with prayer, Sacraments and Scripture, pruning his selfish and sinful desires, and diligently striving to perform many Works of Mercy.
With a man’s cooperation with God and disciplined effort over time, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit yield the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, blessing him, his family and many others; his ultimate great harvest will be to be a Saint who is received into Heaven.
If a Catholic man chooses not to grow in faith, turns or drifts away from God’s Holy Catholic Church, or falls into and remains in a state of mortal sin, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit remain dormant and there will be few Fruits of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life; he may experience fleeting pleasures but will only yield the weeds of sin and ultimately his only harvest will be the fires of Hell.
The List of the Fruits
From the earliest days of the Church in St. Jerome’s Vulgate and confirmed by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul’s list of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) are as follows: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Forbearance, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control and Chastity (CCC 1832).
Charity is the virtue by which a man loves God above all things and one’s neighbor as one’s self, which is demonstrated by a man’s willingness to sacrifice his own selfish desires to praise and glorify God, and to take many deliberate Works of Mercy for the comfort and care of others (CCC 1822-1829).
Joy is an outward act of great happiness, gladness, and delight which comes from a mans direct experience of God’s love, and that inspires, comforts, and leads others to God (CCC 1439); joy is not the transient pleasure of worldly experiences but is a blessing that comes directly from an encounter with God and is of a supernatural nature.
Peace is an act which seeks to eliminate confrontation and aggression and instead build cooperation, unity, and tranquility of order among people so that justice prevails (CCC 2302-2306); it is one of the Beatitudes (Mt 5:9) which seeks to imitate the Prince of Peace (CCC 2305). Peace is also a loving and calm state of a person which displaces stress and sorrow that is a direct result from a unity with the Blessed Trinity (CCC 260).
Patience is an act which demonstrates a man’s ability to endure his sorrows caused by suffering and the unjust acts of others, and continue with an unbroken spirit to seek to achieve his goals; the patient man is keenly aware of the mental, emotional, moral, or physical limits of another and sacrifices or delays his own desires to lovingly serve the other for the salvation of many (CCC 55).
Kindness is demonstrated by a man when he is friendly, courteous, considerate, respectful, and responsive to the needs of another; the kind man upholds the dignity of another and demonstrates love in his demeanor, emotions and acts, but does not abdicate his responsibility to respond aggressively when necessary to uphold justice.
Goodness is the broad set of acts by which a man routinely acts with moral excellence; goodness is often demonstrated by acts of charity to help those who are suffering or are in some sort of trouble (CCC 1803) or in the charitable response when confronting the hatred of enemies (Lk 6:27-31).
Forbearance is demonstrated by persistent acts of restraint, toleration, and courage by a man when faced with deliberate wrongs (Col 3:12-13); forbearance is not the toleration of evil or the abdication of duty to make Spiritual Works of Mercy, but the deliberate decision to forgive a wrong and wait until the timing and conditions are right for fruitful correction.
Gentleness is evident when a man is sensitive to others and refuses to be harsh or aggressive towards others, often when some injustice has been committed; instead, the gentle man treats others with moderation, meekness, affection, calm restraint and self-giving (1 Th 2:7), with the hope of bringing peace and justice and to avoid the escalation of harshness and violence.
Faithfulness is demonstrated by a man who remains true to God, and can be counted on by others to be loyal, to keep his word, uphold vows, and to show up to help and comfort others, particularly in times of suffering.
Modesty is demonstrated by a man when he does not “unveil that what should be hidden”, exercising purity and restraint in his emotions, words, and deeds, so as to not draw another into sexual temptation (CCC 2521-2524, 2533).
Self-control governs the acts of a man who has mastered and regulates his desires, impulses, emotions, and behaviors to use reason and discipline to take right action based on the circumstances; the man who exercises self-control conquers impulsiveness, the irrational and unpredictable reactions of an immature man ruled by his emotions, desires, and random events.
Chastity is demonstrated by a man who has self-mastery of his sexual impulses and conforms his outer words and deeds to uphold and be conformed to the natural gift of conjugal love within the vocation of married life, or to abstain from sexual activity is he is not married (CCC 2337, 2348-2350, 2395).