Part of my preparation for receiving the sacrament of Confirmation was to memorize all the gifts that I would receive from the Holy Spirit. Since I was only twelve years old at the time, I’m not sure how I understood the promise of those gifts. Much later, when teaching Confirmation classes to teenagers, it was still difficult to imagine – even in new translation – how suddenly the confirmands would become spiritually adult, having received gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgment, courage, reverence and wonder & awe in God’s presence as the bishop laid hands on their heads and anointed them. I was lucky to team-teach those classes for a couple of years with a colleague of my age who explained very well to candidates that these gifts, if nurtured by the recipient, would grow in them as they matured. I remember the first time he said, “I was in my thirties when I first realized what that meant.” For him – and for me still – it was good to pull that list out from the brain filed under the title Gifts to grow into to see how we were doing. It still is.
This morning I read another list of Spirit-gifts – not so commonly referred to these days – that I also learned as a young person. These are called by St. Paul in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Galatians fruits of the Spirit. It was a good practice to take inventory of how these qualities that seem somehow more concrete and practical have or have not come to find a home in me as I try to live a good life. Take a look and see what seems to be flourishing in you these days.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.