A Friend Indeed – Part 7 of 7

Concluding his discussion of the varieties of permanent assistance God offers us, Father Geiermann mentions two other kinds of assistance in the supernatural order: sacraments and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“The sacraments are fountains of grace established by Jesus Christ. . . . They supply the seven spiritual wants of mankind.” Baptism gives spiritual life, Confirmation supplies the perfection of spiritual life, Holy Eucharist nourishes the spiritual life, Penance provides a remedy for spiritual disease and death, Extreme Unction makes special provision for the journey to eternity, Holy Orders gives authority and strength to minister in the name of Christ, and Matrimony supplies special grace to bring up children for heaven.

“Baptism and Penance give sanctifying grace, while the others increase it in the soul. All the sacraments, besides, confer sacramental grace, which is a right to those actual graces that are necessary to attain the end for which Our Lord instituted each sacrament.”

“The gifts of the Holy Ghost are certain habits infused by God to facilitate the operations of the infused virtues, and thereby to sustain man when acting in union with Him. They consist in a kind of spiritual instinct which enables man to detect the promptings of actual grace readily, and to co-operate cheerfully with them. They are the crowning grace of God’s permanent assistance to man, and bring him into perfect harmony with his heavenly Father.”

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. “The first four perfect the Christian mind, the last three endow the Christian will. Wisdom enables man to know and take delight in God. Like a luminous flame understanding sheds light on the truths of faith and the mysteries of religion. Knowledge enables man to rise to God by means of His creatures, while counsel points out the best means of union with God by doing His holy will in all things. Fortitude enables man to triumph over every obstacle to his union with the Infinite Good. Piety makes him childlike towards God, and fraternal to the rest of mankind. And, finally, the fear of the Lord cultivates so delicate a conscience in him, that he will avoid even the shadow of evil lest he tarnish his soul and offend the God of infinite love.”

St. John saw “the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits” (Rev 22:2). The fruits of the Holy Spirit, based on Galatians 5:22-23, are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity.

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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