Charisms | Spiritual Gifts

An Insight into the Life of Evangelical Counsels

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
(1 Cor 12:4-7)

[1] God’s free favor. Charism is rooted in the Greek word charis, which means grace, favor, thanks, and gratitude; it associates with the word charisma, which means a gift given out of goodwill, a donation. It refers only to the gracious action of God towards men. “At the heart of the word is God’s free favor which rules out all notion of merit or reward. It is, therefore, a term suited to express God’s initiative in restoring humankind to wholeness and harmony with the divine purpose and could stand as a synonym for – eternal life, the supreme charisma (Rom 5:15; 6:23; 11:29).”

[2] Grace in Christ. One may find the topic prevailing in the letters of St. Paul. For him, charis is the essence of God’s saving act in Jesus Christ, in his passion, death, and resurrection, and its enduring effects on the future. “In Christ, therefore, God’s grace is given as a precious gift. Apart from him, there can be no talk of grace.” In Christian life, everything is grace except sin. It means that grace is neither possessed by individual’s right, nor at his total disposal. Someone called is weak unless God comes to his aid to make him strong to do God’s bidding through the weaker ones.

[3] Personal charisms. Besides the proper charisms of the Order or Congregation (cf., Rom. 5:15f.; 6:23) are also the personalized gifts for individual members, which St. Paul called charisma, a personal endowment of grace. Charism is for the service and building of the community. This spiritual gift fits according to the individual character, sometime it is also called personal. It does not signify a private use apart from the authority of the community. There are various spiritual endowments (e.g. prophecy, teaching, leadership, spiritual exhortation). “It is inconceivable to Paul that there should be any Christian without some gift of grace. At the same time, a single individual may be characterized by more than one gift of grace.” Everyone called has at least a gift for the good of the community.

[4] Abuse of gifts. However, human freedom is always open to the abuse of gifts. The Letter to the Hebrews shows the possible abuse or misuse of these. “To abuse, the spiritual gift by one’s way of life is worse than transgressing the Mosaic law (10:29); grace once abandoned is not to be regained (12:15ff).” For every transgression of charisma, there are corresponding consequences. “Jude 4 warns against the misuse of grace to satisfy our passions, a danger which Paul had already repulsed in Rom. 6: 1.”

"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another."
– 1 Peter 4:10

[5] Origin and Purpose. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “A specific gift or grace of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefits the Church, given to help a person live out the Christian life, or to serve the common good in building up the Church.” Their prime purpose is to make visible the mystery and mission of the Church for the renewal of society. It is spiritual because it is a gift from the Holy Spirit for the Church building through the individual members.

[6] The Trinity. Charisms are many concerning various states of life but still, the Holy Spirit is present to bear fruit for the Lord in the growth of fraternity and mission. Since the Holy Spirit is the Author of charisms, in his Wisdom, these give new expressions of consecrated life. Through constant conformity with Christ and the faithful observance of the evangelical counsels, they deepen both the communal and personal charisms, and gives glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

[7] Return to the roots. “There is a pressing need today for every Institute to return to the Rule, since the Rule and Constitutions provide a map for the whole journey of discipleship, by a specific charism confirmed by the Church. A greater regard for the Rule will not fail to offer consecrated persons a reliable criterion in their search for the appropriate forms of a witness capable of responding to the needs of the times without departing from an Institute’s initial inspiration.” It refers to the founding charisms of the founder or foundress at the beginning of the foundation; it is the first heritage of the Institute whose specific charisms are always subject to the confirmation and guidance of the authority of the Church. She affirms the authenticity of charisms as regards their divine origin and their role in the mission of the Church.

[8] Conclusion. Charisms are God’s expression of his love for the Church because they enrich the possessor in view of his neighbors’ salvation; they are honor and at the same burden of responsibility and accountability before God and his Church; charisms flourish and bear fruit within the ambit of Christian vocation; charisms help one to mature in faith, but it is not necessarily soteriological: God calls men and women for a mission and arms them with charisms, so they dwell both within the realm both anthropological and mysterious, both divine and human, and a person decides to respond faithfully to God’s call. Moreover, the personal charisms are also consecrated simultaneously during the consecration and profession of vows of the evangelical counsels. Everything for the greater glory of God.


Fra Alfonsus D. Panaligan, OFMConv., SThD
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