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Chapter 38

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
(Part I)

 

We may compare those who are (primarily) led
by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to a vessel running full-sail before the wind;
and those who are (primarily) led
by virtues, not as yet by the gifts,
to a shallop propelled by oars.
—Father Louis Lallemant

 

 

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2-3)  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit were fully present in the human soul of our Lord Jesus Christ from the moment of His Incarnation.  For us, they develop over time.  As we grow in grace, the gifts unfold in our soul like the sails on a sea vessel.  More and more we are able to catch the “wind” of divine inspiration, the “sunlight” of illumination, from the Holy Spirit and move forward in the direction of Divine Providence.  Our voyage is faster, safer, smoother and better with the gifts of the Holy Spirit than with the oars of the virtues alone.

The spiritual life is like a ship sailing across the sea of life to reach the safe harbor of heaven.  We will encounter dark clouds, storms and thunder as we strive to arrive at the end of our voyage.  At times we will feel seasick from the difficultly of the journey.  But the Captain, Christ our Lord, will heal us with His heavenly visitation and wisdom, His divine inspiration and medicine, at the appropriate time.

We begin by rowing the boat of our soul with the oars of the virtues in shallow waters.  This is a lot of work, but the Lord is there to assist us with the grace of His helping hand.  As we oar out from shore, more and more away from the world of sin that we used to live in, growing in grace and virtue, the sails of our vessel, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, begin to unfold in our soul.  Through them we catch the divine wind and sunshine, the inspirations and illuminations of the Holy Spirit.

Especially as we enter upon the high seas of contemplation, we will need this added help from on high.  The countervailing winds of the world will be against us, slowing us down.  The pirates of unruly passions will steal from our spiritual treasure, the peace and presence of Christ our Lord.  The fog of Satan will seek to deceive us and lead us off course, away from the will of God, so that we may be forever lost.  But with the help of those heavenly sails, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, our sea vessel will pass through all the dangers and difficulties of the spiritual life even when it seems impossible.  The Living Flame of Love, with our cooperation, will burn through the fog of Satan and subdue the passions, while that strong but gentle Wind Who “blows where he wills” will blow us through and around the contrary wind and waves of the world. (John 3:8)  In other words, the Holy Spirit, Wind of Wisdom and Flame of Love, will break through and outmaneuver every obstacle, on board or in the sea, and we will eventually arrive safely, if we do not abandon the Captain, on the other side of the sea of life in the port of Paradise on the shores of eternity.  Thus, in the amazing voyage of the spiritual journey, the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit work together, like oars and sails on a sea vessel, to bring us closer and closer to God, the Blessed Trinity— our true Homeland—and heavenly glory.

 

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