For this conference, we will do things a little differently. I will point you to a few resources as we go through several points pertaining to how spiritual gifts suggest a vocational focus that needs to be considered when doing discernment. Hopefully, this will be a "first word" in a discussion that will continue on this forum.
A. What are Spiritual Gifts?
Unlike natural talents, which we discussed in our previous conference, spiritual gifts (often called charisms) refer to supernatural empowerments given to us by the Holy Spirit to be used for the good of the community (home/family, school, community, but most especially, the Church).
Because I have written on this topic extensively in a few places, I will point you to one of the resources I've developed for further information and reflection.
- see http://shalomplace.com/view/hsbook-lite.pdf (Chapter 5)
B. Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
You probably know what they are already. As Chapter 5 from "Come, Holy Spirit" pointed out, you enjoy using these gifts and you receive positive feedback from the community when you do. There are a few online inventories available; the three links below are examples, and can help to validate your understanding.
C. Spiritual Gifts and Natural Talents
It's not either/or, of course; the two often go together. An old theological adage has it that grace builds on nature, and this is true of many spiritual gifts. For example, it would be quite a stretch for the Spirit to impart a gift of writing or music in those who have no natural talents in these areas. What the charism does is inspires one to use them in the service of community. Other gifts like healing, prophecy or working miracles seem to have no natural counterpart.
Natural talents are pretty much always at our disposal, to be used however we wish. Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are given when the need arises. For example, the gift of healing doesn't become activated until someone who is sick is present. Same goes for a gift like teaching; when the student is ready, the teaching emerges from the teacher.
D. Habitual Gifts
As noted in Chapter 5 from "Come, Holy Spirit," anyone can receive any gift at any time, but it does seem that some of the gifts are given to us regularly. This is what we mean by "habitual gifts;" you and the community recognize that the Spirit gifts you regularly and even predictably with these.
Often, it seems that there are configurations of habitual gifts. In my own life, for example, the gifts of teaching, writing, knowledge and wisdom seem to go together, and often it's not clear which one is leading and which are supporting. In most cases, it seems that teaching is the deepest gift, with writing being more a mode of teaching, but there are other times when writing seems to be a primary charism without much reference to teaching.
E. Vocation and Call
Now we get to the crux of the matter in considering an implied call by God in the very fact of being gifted for service to the community. After all, what does it mean to be habitually gifted with one or more charisms except that God intends for us to use these for the good of others. When we do so, we not only help to extend God's love, care and wisdom to the community, but we also grow in grace through the exercising of the charisms -- a "win-win" situation, if ever there was one.
At this point, the issue of "state of life" comes into sharper focus. Realizing that we are gifted with both natural talents and spiritual charisms, the ideal would be that we consider what kind of lifestyle will enable us to use these most fully. Some gift inventories, for example, mention celibacy as a charism; obviously, people with that habitual charism would do better to avoid the married state. If one feels called to celibacy and religious life, there are additional considerations. Some religious communities emphasize certain charisms more than others, and these help to focus the mission of the order. Same goes for the diocesan priesthood and its focus on nurturing parish life. Which options resonate best with one's temperament and charisms? This can take awhile to sort out. Ideally, our families, schools and church communities would be helping us through the years to clarify these issues, but that is often not the case.
Many charisms can be exercised within the married state or religious life, so there are a broad range of possibilities that open up when discerning state of life. If one chooses the married state, for example, there are many opportunities for exercising spiritual gifts within the family community. One need not be restricted to family life for their exercise, however. Discernment means that we keep an open mind and heart to see where else the Spirit might be leading. Are we called to more service in the Church or another profession, for example? How might we pursue these options while still maintaining family responsibilities? While self-actualization might suggest a priority for self, charisms remind us that it's not all about us.
Reflection and Discussion
1. What questions or comments do you have from Chapter 5 of "Come, Holy Spirit"
2. If you care to, please share what you perceive to be some of your spiritual gifts. You can use the inventories for reference, or your own sense of what these are.
3. How do natural talents and spiritual gifts work together in your experience?
4. How do spiritual gifts influence your exercise of service?
5. How have your natural talents and spiritual gifts influenced your choices regarding state in life? What tensions do you experience within your state of life for their exercise?
About three and a half years ago I took part in my first CSI "Called and Gifted" workshop, and was subsequently trained to be an interviewer for other participants after they have experienced a weekend. I found the workshop very enlightening and very affirming. The person who interviewed me was very helpful in assisting me to discern whether a few particular gifts were charisms for me.
One charism was not a surprise: music. This might be a situaton where a charism (grace) built upon nature as I grew up in a musical family (Mom played the piano and Dad played a guitar, and one brother played drums). I learned to play the piano as a youngster and in middle school took up the drums.
It wasn't until a very good priest friend of mine "pushed" me to start playing the organ for Mass. I remember my first time quite well...I was terrified! Once I could get past my nervousness and begin to see my playing the organ or piano as a ministry, the experience seemed to change. I would say I was given a "vocation," a "call," to use my musical talents for the benefit of others. And the three signs of a charism are there: I am energized, at times people are "touched" by my playing, and I receive the feedback.
As far as my state in life vocation, I'm not sure to what degree my natural talents or charisms impacted that decision. In fact, I didn't even know what charisms were at that time in my life. However, I did have a "religious experience" that led me to make a decision. I felt called by God and chose to enter religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph.
Within this state in life, however, I am now using my new-found knowledge, appreciation and discernment of my charisms to help guide me in other ways God may be calling me at this time in my life.
I think one of my Charisms was healing and another teaching. Iused these both for years in my role as Mom, Nurse , CCd teacher , friend , cohort in crime. God granted me the wonderful opportunity to work w/ the sick and the porr and what a wonderful opportunity it was. I learned more than I taught at times.Once I became ill iwas was devasted that a great part of my life and ministry was taken from me. but God works in strange ways. I have found that there are many sad and lonely people on the internet It's strange. I started to use it as a means of prayer as I could no longer read but could the computer as we could enlarge the font. I explored and found my prayer sites and my quilt sites and there I found folks dealing w/ illness not understanding them asking for help needing resources and spiritual help so God guided in this direction. One walks slowly an carefully with this ministry . It may be just giving a helping resource , a prayer site or my phone # .... It depends on what and how it may work out. Sometimes it's just that listening ear that no one gets when they are ill, a compassionate spirit that cares over the internet. So I feel that even being homebound God can find a very useful purpose for our lives if we listen closely to His voice and His direction and know what is in His heart for us. I feel that this is meant for me as it has brought peace to other and has been effacious to them not harmful if it were I would not be continuing. God sure can work in strange ways or as my Dad use to say God writes w/ crooked lines.... Cathy
From Chapter Five Section—Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Paul seems to take it for granted that the people he writes to had an experience of the Holy Spirit, as he often reminds them of this gift and encourages them to remember what it was like when the spirit was given to them. This was a clear and distinctive “event” in the life of Christian faith, signifying the reality of God’s life in the soul and new life in Christ.”
YES, I DO wonder about the disparity between that early perspective and what we observe in most Christian churches today. Why don’t we see any tongues of fire or speaking in tongues at our Confirmations? We must be doing it ALL WRONG.
I have to admit that when I read about the “Gifts of the Spirit” my eyes start to glaze over. There is a part of me that doesn’t buy into any of it, probably because I haven’t experienced any of the BIG charismatic gifts. And since I haven’t, I am supposed to be consoled by recognizing that I HAVE received some of the transformative gifts. Now, why am I not impressed by that?
Anne (not trying to be difficult, just being honest)
Thanks Anne, but I for one, am very glad that people are not speaking in tongues around me, it would freak me out!! Not because it can happen but because, the way I understood it, you have to have someone who can 'translate'. But, if you don't mind me saying so, are you not looking for something too dramatic? I don't like the word 'charismatic as it tends often to be used for groups who make a lot of noise and are very demonstrative. Can the gifts of the Spirit not be quiet and gentle as well?
I would like to share with you a couple of things that have happened to me; I don't know if they come under the heading of 'gifts':
In the monetary that I visit, there was a wonderful brother who was at the reception desk. I would spend time with him when he wasn't busy. He was old and unwell and I would phone him occasionally to find out how he was. One day I had such a feeling that I should phone but 'stuff' of a normal day got in the way so I phoned the next, only to be told that he had died the evening before. Since then, whenever someone dear (or even not so dear) comes strongly to mind, I phone or visit. The next example is that of a lady from the RC community. We were in various ecumenical (study,prayer and coffee rota) groups. She had cancer and it was obvious that she did not have long to live. One night I dreamt of her standing on a street corner talking to a group of ladies. In the dream, I called out to ask how she was (she looked really good) and she said she was feeling so well. The next morning I went to Mass to hear the priest announce that she had died in the night. I cannot put words to how I felt and shared it with the priest after. He said this often happens that the dying communicate with someone to tell them they are whole. I did not know the family other than by sight and, quite honestly, I was afraid to tell them what I had dreamt - I think I hoped the priest would do that. So, are these 'gifts' ? Will it happen again and will I next time have more courage to share? Should I even?
Thanks for your thoughts (and I love honesty!)
I'm wondering if you took any of the online surveys I recommended in the opening post. Every Christian has been gited with charisms, but often they're not recognized. Sr. Janice, Cathy and Sue shared a few examples of this. I'm thinking that if you take an inventory or two and check out the results with others who know you, they'll have some illuminating feedback for you.
But, if you don't mind me saying so, are you not looking for something too dramatic?
Well, it says "supernatural empowerments" in Phil's definition. Something supernational would be pretty dramatic in my book....or it would sure get my attention.
And Phil, I did take some of the inventories.
I had the highest percentages in the areas of administration, faith, wisdom and writing. But I'm still not aware of having "supernatural empowerments" in these areas. Am I not paying good enough attention in my own life?
Anne et al, try http://www.siena.org/spgifts.htm for a good faq on spiritual gifts.
The term "supernatural empowerment" simply means that these gifts are given by God. It doesn't mean that we have supernatural attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, etc.), and as I noted in my presentation, there is often a close relationship between charisms and natural talents. When one is ministering out of charisms, however, there is a sense of closeness to God, enthusiasm for the ministry, and efficacy/results. This is different from going primarily out of natural talents. You also don't burn out when you're working out of charisms, as it is grace that is moving through you rather than extending your own natural resources.
I wonder if some of you can describe what it's like for you to serve from charisms vs. natural talents.
Thanks for the additional resources, Phil. I intend to look them over and then just let these ideas sink in for a while.
I am currently searching to see what my spiritual gifts are. I grew up in a very restrictive church where women were not allowed to do much at all in the church, esp. leadership roles. We were not even allowed to have a choir.So I came out of that expereince very unsure of who I was and what I could do well. I am now in a UMC church and feel that I have been freed from slavery.
I recently taught a short 2 hour session on Hildegard of Bingen to a ladies bible study. I enjoyed sharing my passion of the mystics to these ladies. I found the whole experience to be fun and liked the creative side of it, that is, showing and discussing slides of her visions to the class as well as a video of her life and showed and commented on her opera through a dvd presentation. I got very postive feedback from the class, so that is one of the reasons I haved decided to do a 2 yr Spiritual Formation Program that will train me to teach classes and lead small groups on spirituality and the life of the mystics.
I have also recently become active on our ecojustice committee at church. I am organizing/planning, or coordinating events for this minsitry. I'm not sure which spiritual gift this is. Leadership? I've gotten very appreciative comments from the committee chair.
I'm trying out singing for short porgrams in the choir. Not sure if this will lead me to sing in the full choir. People have been very encouraging.
I find that I love to learn, attend conferences, seminars, and retreats.I suppose the gift of knowledge would tie in with teaching as far as the practical applications of it.
I have also been visiting a friend who fell down some stairs and broke and sprained her ankles. She has been in a wheelchair for 2 months and been on crutches later. My heart went out to her and it has been a blessing to me to be there for her. I gave her some mandalas to color out of my mandala coloring book and I came back 2 weeks later and she and her daughter had colored almost all 20 of them! It was such a joy to see my spiritual tools working. I suppose this example would be the gift of mercy. This is my first time to do something like this. So this is new for me.
Well Anne, I for one encourage your honesty. It opens discussion. In November, 2004, I went to a "Called and Gifted Weekend", followed by a hurried session with a "counselor" and then a haphazard schedule for meetings in our parish. I was not notified of the changing schedule of the last 2 so missed them. I say this because I got a sort of idea of my gifts, but the information has gone by the wayside without parish follow up.
I had an older sister who died last fall. We were close. She left the Catholic church many years ago. As she was a "radical" Catholic member, in her disillusionment, she became a "radical" pentecostal. She and her children, as she related spoke in tongues and there were people there to "discern" and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit were evident in her church.
I prefer a gentler, not so dramatic idea of the gifts bestowed on me to carry out my mission in life. We all have gifts that God gave us. If it is any comfort, I found the weekend a little confusing in its details of the gifts. I therefore went online and took other "inventories". I still cannot tell you for sure what my gifts are because as I understand it, it can take a long time to find out for sure what they are. This entails setting up actual experiments and testing of what you suspect is your gift. Anyway, true to me I have lost interest in the details and just "go out there and live." The counselor told me the purpose of these weekends is to identify how you can contribute to your parish with your gifts.
My tests seem to reveal a tendency toward about 6 things, which I would have to go back and check before mentioning here. I have always had a dream of Parish Nursing. A few of my "nursey" friends and I have tried, unsuccessfully, to interest the powers that be in our parish and after 5 years, we have went no where with it. I take that to mean it is not God's will at this time for me to do. I belong to a parish nursing committee in our community, have taken a college course on it, and other churches in our community have embraced it, but not ours. I find it quite frustrating. Anyway, I find myself attracted to health education. I have a charism of helping, but not teaching. I became so overwhelmed with the detail of the weekend, I just trust my instincts and go do. I know that throughout my life, I receive a lot of reinforcement for being "someone warm and open I can really talk to" and "someone who really can bring knowledge down to an understandable level." Now I see myself as getting lost in details. I don't know how this happens, it just does and because I am a nurse, it happens quite frequently. I understand all the feelings of energized, etc. while practicing, I just can't be sure of the exact charism.
I have not found it a simple process and have been told it is not a simple process to discern charisms. The weekend is only the beginning and since I have other things to do in my life, I felt I could not devote the time it would take for proper discernment. I decided to do and not think about it. Probably not the most clear discernment, but the best I can do. We were told in the weekend that speaking in tongues, healing, etc. were very rare gifts and probably not one of ours. Since I have matured some, I do not have to aspire to "great things." The everyday gifts are okay by me. I would just like to know for sure (my exacting side) what they are.
As you all can see, I have a gift for wordiness. (ha)
Thanks for sharing. Your confusion and frustration feel familiar. So many of the questions in those inventories have to do with “church work.” What if you don’t do any (gasp) “church work?’ The church work I am involved with is also my JOB, since I teach in the parish school. Is it still a vocation if I get paid for it? My friends convince me that it is. It doesn’t really seem fair that I get to count MY job as church work, since my friend who runs the bank across town can’t count HER job as church work. Does she have to put in more “time” doing something church-y to match my gift?? My next question is…..if I taught the children in the public school across town, would it still be church work? Would it still be a vocation? Would I love or care for those children in the public school any less? Would I be DIFFERENT? I think not.
The other “church work” that I do is sing in the choir. It is a big commitment. There is practice EVERY week and then extra time put in at Christmas and Easter. I did not rejoin the choir until my daughter left for college this past Fall. I wonder….do I have a charism of music…….is my singing better or more enhanced in church than it is when I sing along in my car? I’ve also been training to be a cantor. This was not my idea, but that of the music director of our church. She’s been training me since last Spring. This Saturday evening will be my first time to be the cantor at Mass. (I could use some prayers on this one, so I don’t get too nervous). Will my singing be more enhanced in this capacity?? I guess we shall see…….
These are just random thoughts that I have about charims and “church work.” I don’t really expect anybody to answer my questions for me, silly as some of them sound. But after last week’s Conference on Spiritual Gifts I again had the feeling that I should head back to the soup kitchen .
I CAN think of a time when my ease in a situation surprised me. Last summer my dad was dying. He had congestive heart failure and all of the complications associated with that. He was 89 years old and had led a good, happy life. Fortunately for me and everyone involved, school was out and I had more than enough time to spend visiting and nursing my dad. I found that I was very GOOD with him when he was in the hospital. And he always seemed to perk up when I came to visit. Something about nursing him felt very familiar. Then I realized that I was treating him with the same kind of upbeat attitude and encouragement that I used with my kindergarten students. That was why it felt so familiar. I was also very comfortable with him physically. I wasn’t afraid to sit and hold his hands for long periods of time. My mother marveled to all of her friends about how “good I was” with him. Nobody was more surprised than I was. .
My dad’s death last June reacquainted me with my dad’s brother and his wife. I had not seen my aunt and uncle for years but once I found out where they were in the local nursing home I promised to visit them in my dad’s place. The three of us developed a wonderful relationship that lasted until Thanksgiving. Then my Uncle Monroe developed an upper respiratory infection that wouldn’t get better and he, too died of conjestive heart failure. He was 98 years old. Aunt Pat died shortly after, on February. 17. The three of us had some wonderful visits in those six months or so. Before any of this, I had no idea that I was so “good” with old people. Maybe the “gift” appeared when it was needed??
Hello everyone I am new and hope to share some insight as to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe we as Christians are not taught clearly about this subject. Not every gift is for every person and time period. The miracles that Jesus did were to show the people he is the awaited Messiah. Then when Jesus goes back to heaven he sends the Holy Spirit to begin a new way of worshiping God. The Disciples were given the gift of speaking in an unknown languish to get new converts for Church growth. For that's the purpose for that gift. With church growth Jesus doesn't have to rely on the supernatural way of showing himself to other unbelievers because now he has enough members who keep his commandments. So the believer himself or herself becomes the supernatural hands of Jesus every time someone in need needs help. Read and understand Matthew 25:14-40 and you will know that this is the way Jesus wants it done. The hands of Jesus reaching down through heaven using your hand to give someone a drink of water. But then again the church will once again witness the working of the Holy Spirit as when Jesus walked this earth through his two witnesses we read about in Revelations. The gifts of the spirit has a time and place for a specific purpose. What I don't like are the teachers out there telling Christians if they haven't spoken in an unknown languish you are not saved. And that's is far from the truth. One person can have a gift of the spirit but many people will share the message of the spirit that was for the church. I have encounter the Holy Ghost and he gave me the wisdom of how to find the birth month Jesus in the bible which I must share with you because my encounter with the Holy Spirit is yours when you hear the message given to the church. So let me share a gifted message with you all from heaven.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.
So if you are a Christian that wants to be wise and understand the loving kindness of the Lord you need to study the wonderful works done for the children of men. Which are written within your bible.
For the Heavenly Father to accomplish sending his son into this world to accomplish what is written in Jeremiah 33 and what Jesus is saying in John's gospel that his will is to finish his Father's work written in chapter four the heavenly Father has a very creative way of using seven barren women presenting a newborn child unto their heavenly Father and their husbands, with the building of the first temple to say happy birthday unto his own son named Wonderful Counselor. When reading the bible it is about God sending his son to us to take away the transgressions of all. This is the only reason that the Hebrew people exist through the body of Abraham and God did not leave out his sons birth month in the writings of the Prophets. In order to do this he has a plan and the book of Genesis begins with the heavenly Father being pleased and finding all he had created to be good and blessed all of his creation. Then God is disappointed with man and in the end destroys his creation saving only one man and his family being eight people in all. A number God will use again to accomplish his plans of preventing Satan from destroying all of mankind. After the flood God selects another man that makes our heavenly father very pleased with his obedience unto God by not sparing his only son given unto him through a miracle of God. Afterwards Abraham said, God will provide, and that he did by not sparing even his own son of himself to go unto his death for all mankind that choose to believe in the first resurrection. Sarah will be 90 years old when the heavenly Father puts his plans into action showing he is the giver of life and no one else in the universe. Sarah is the first of seven women that are barren to receive a miracle to have a child. Mary will be the eighth woman who is not barren but is the chosen daughter of Sarah to give birth unto the Fathers son. Everything God instructs the people to do such as building the first temple has to do with God sending his son into this world to do away with Adams transgression and ours. The first temple was completed in seven years eighth month. Always remember that verse 43 of Psalms 107 is telling us to study these events and miracles that he has done for the children of men. Together with the completion of the temple in seven years eighth month, there are seven women who are barren that receive a miracle birth with Mary who is not barren being the eighth woman to receive a birth miracle, I have often heard from people that there are no coincidences found within the bible as we read about the power of God. Verse 43 of Psalms 107 needs to be applied by us who love Jesus so we can teach the future church how to find in the bible what we have been told isn't there, to tell us the real birth month of Jesus. For God is certainly telling us his son's birth month in our bibles through the wonderful works being done for the children of men. We Just simply need to apply verse 43 and instill the correct answer's in our life. That we can publicly celebrate the truthful answers for our Holy Day Celebrations unto our Lord. When you read about God coming down from heaven to fill that tabernacle during the feast of Tabernacles which is in the fall of the year, it is the feast month of the birth of Jesus to take place in the future. I have even asked a Catholic believer if all Catholics except Dec 25 for the birth of Jesus and it was said that many of the Catholic Christians feel it is the wrong month as do most Protestant Christians. These seven women plus Mary being the eighth woman to have miracle births combined with the event of the first tabernacle that King David wanted to build being filled during the feast of Tabernacles was symbolically representing the future birth of Jesus.
The seven women are: Sarah,Rebekka, Rachael,Hannah, Samson's mother, the Great Woman in the days of Elisha and Elizabeth
Thanks for stopping in and sharing your faith with us, Jimmy.
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