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What are the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit?

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We often hear about them, but what are they?

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as traditionally defined, are:

1) Wisdom: We receive the gift of wisdom to help us understand the things of God, and to direct our whole life and all our actions to his honor and glory. Wisdom helps us see the world differently and from God’s point of view. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

2) Understanding: The gift of understanding enables us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith. “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God” (Jeremiah 24:7).

3) Counsel (also known as Right Judgment): The gift of counsel helps us to discern what is right and what is wrong. It assists us in our ability to choose the path of God. “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7: 13-14).

4) Knowledge: When we receive the gift of knowledge, it enables us to discover God’s will in all things. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

5) Piety (also known as Reverence): The gift of piety helps us to love God, our merciful Father, and to obey his precepts out of love for him. It moves our heart from serving God out of duty and obligation into a relationship of love. “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

6) Fortitude (also known as Courage): While the gifts of knowledge and wisdom help us know what we should do, the gift of fortitude strengthens our will so that we can actually accomplish what is true, good and beautiful. This gift is sometimes called the gift of courage and helps a person stand firm, even when persecuted, in doing the right thing. “[T]hey will lay their hands on you and persecute you … This will be a time for you to bear testimony … I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict … you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:12-17).

7) Fear of the Lord (also known as Wonder and Awe): Commonly misunderstood as the fear of a wrathful God ready to smite us, the gift of fear of the Lord is actually more positive than negative. It consists of a recognition of the grandeur of God and his primacy over all things. Fear of the Lord recognizes that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and we are his creatures. This gift helps us to understand how we must depend on God for everything. In other words, he is God, we are not. “[I]f God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you” (Luke 12:27).


If you are seeking to get to know the Holy Spirit better, read more:

Pope Francis’ 3 ways to follow the Holy Spirit

How I finally figured out who the Holy Spirit is

The Holy Spirit as Divine Artist

If you can’t fight anymore, invoke the Holy Spirit like this

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