Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Father Pegues continues his discussion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on the virtues by mentioning the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We have need of the three theological virtues and the four cardinal morals virtues in order to live well. The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the virtues. The gifts are “habitual dispositions which are given to man by the Holy Ghost, and which make man yielding and docile to all the inspirations of the Holy Spirit that help man towards the possession of God in heaven.” There are seven of these gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. To gain heaven, a person must not only act virtuously. God must also give him the gifts of the Holy Spirit because “man called to live as a child of God, is unable to attain to the perfection of this life unless God Himself, by His own action, makes perfect what man’s action could achieve only incompletely through the virtues.”

“When man is thus endowed with the virtues and the gifts he has, on his part, all that is required to live a perfect life in view of winning heaven. . . . He has already, in some sort, begun to live the life of heaven here on earth; and with this in mind one speaks of the beatitudes on earth, and of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”

“By the beatitudes is meant the acts of the virtues and the gifts enumerated by our Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel [Mt 5:3-10], which by their presence in the soul or by the merits which result there, give to us as it were a guarantee of the future beatitude promised to each of them.”

“By the fruit of the Holy Spirit is understood those good acts whose nature it is to give joy to the virtuous man in that he acts in the supernatural order under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit is charity, peace, patience, benignity, meekness, faithfulness, modesty, continency, and chastity. St. Paul speaks of this fruit in his Letter to the Galatians (5:22-23). “There can be nothing better for man on earth than to live thus the life of the virtues and of the gifts, from which spring the beatitudes and the fruit of the Holy Ghost.”

Quotations from Thomas Pegues, Catechism of the “Summa Theologica” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, trans. Aelred Whitacre (New York: Benziger, 1922).

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