THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
What are the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit? Below you have a wonderful explanation taken from the best-selling, seven-volume set of daily Catholic meditations, In Conversation with God, written by Francisco Fernandez-Carvajal which is the best I could find providing a concise description of our topic.
When the soul is docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, it becomes that good tree which is known by its fruits. These fruits enrich the Christian’s life and are manifestations of the glory of God: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit (John 15:8), Jesus says at the Last Supper.
These supernatural fruits are countless. St Paul, by way of example, indicates twelve fruits, result of the gifts which the Holy Spirit has infused in our soul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, modesty, continence, chastity (cf Gal 5:22-23).
First is love or charity, the first sign of our union with Christ. This is the most excellent of these fruits, making us feel that God is near and drawing us to lighten the burden others carry. The first manifestation of the action of the Holy Spirit in our soul is a sensitive and operative charity towards those who live with us or with whom we work. There is no sign or mark which distinguishes the Christian and the lover of Christ greater than the care of our brothers and sisters and zeal for the salvation of souls (St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the incomprehensible, 6, 3).
This first and chief fruit of the Holy Spirit is followed necessarily by joy, since the lover rejoices in union with his beloved (St Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, 70,3). Joy is the result of love; therefore the Christian is distinguished by his joy, which persists through sorrow and failure. How much good has been wrought in the world by the joy of Christians. To rejoice under trial, to smile in sufferings…, to sing in our heart ever more clearly, the longer and sharper the thorns.., and all this for the sake of love.., this is, together with love, the fruit that the divine Vinedresser wishes to gather from the branches of the mystic Vine. These are fruits which only the Holy Spirit can produce in us (A. Riaud, The Action of the Holy Spirit in souls, Madrid).
Love and joy leave in the soul the peace of God which passes all understanding (Phil 4:7). St Augustine defines it as tranquillity in order (St Augustine, The City of God, 19, 13, 1). There is a false peace based on disorder, such as that which reigns in a family where the parents always yield to the children’s whims, with the excuse of having peace. The same applies in a city where, on the pretext of not wishing to upset anyone, criminals would be allowed to commit their misdeeds. Peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is the absence of unrest, and the repose of the will in the stable possession of good. This peace supposes a constant battle waged upon the disordered tendencies of one’s own passions.
Only in heaven shall we find the fulness of love, joy and peace. Here we have a foretaste of eternal happiness in the measure in which we are faithful. When there are obstacles, the souls which allow themselves to be guided by the Paraclete produce the fruit of patience. So they are led to bear with serenity, without sterile complaint or protest, the physical and moral sufferings which everybody experiences in life. Charity is full of patience; and patience is frequently the support of love. Charity, wrote St Cyprian, is the bond which unites brothers, the cement of peace, the crossbeam which gives solidity to unity … Only take patience from it, however, and it will remain desolate; take from it the sap of suffering and of resignation and it will lose its roots and its vigour (St Cyprian, The good of patience). Christians should see the loving hand of God, who uses sufferings and sorrows to purify those whom He loves most and to sanctify them. This is why they do not lose their peace when they meet with illness, contradiction, the defects of others, calumnies … not even with their own spiritual failures.
Longanimity is like patience. It is a stable disposition by which we wait serenely without complaint or bitterness and for as long as God wishes, the deferrals willed or permitted by him, before we reach the ascetic or apostolic targets which we set ourselves.
This fruit of the Holy Spirit gives the soul the full certainty — if it uses the means, if there is ascetic struggle, if it begins again always — that these objectives will be attained, in spite of the real obstacles which are there, in spite of weaknesses, errors and sins, if such were the case.
In the apostolate the patient person always has high targets, to the measure of God’s Will, although the immediate results may seem small, and uses all the human and supernatural means available, with a holy persistence and constancy. An indispensable requirement in the apostolate is faith, which is often shown by constancy in speaking about God, even though the fruits are slow to appear.
If we persevere and carry on in the firm conviction that the Lord wills it, signs of a Christian revolution will appear around you, everywhere. Some will follow the call, others will take their interior life seriously, and others — the weakest — will at least be forewarned (J. Escrivá, Furrow, 207).
The Lord is counting on this daily unremitting effort for the apostle’s task to give fruit. If sometimes this is slow in appearing, if the effort we have put into bringing a relative or colleague closer to God should seem in vain, the Holy Spirit will make us understand that no one who works for God with rectitude of intention can work in vain. My chosen shall not labour in vain (Is 65:23). Longanimity is seen to be the perfect unfolding of the virtue of hope.
II. The fruits more directly related to our neighbour’s welfare: goodness, kindness, faithfulness, modesty, continence and chastity.
These are the fruits which bind the soul more directly to God and to its own holiness. Next, St Paul enumerates others which are aimed chiefly at the good of our neighbour: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, being forbearing with one another and, if one has a com plaint against another, forgiving each other (Col 3:12-13).
The goodness which the Apostle is telling us about is a stable disposition of the will which makes us desire all kinds of goods for others, without distinction — friends and enemies, relatives or strangers, neighbours or those far away. The soul feels itself beloved by God. This prevents it from feeling jealousy or envy: in others it sees children of God, whom He loves and for whom Christ has died.
It is not enough just to have a theoretical desire of good for others. True charity is an efficacious love which is transformed into actions. Charity is beneficent (1 Cor 13:4), St Paul tells us. Kindness is precisely that disposition of the heart which inclines us to do good to others (cf A. Riaud, op cit). This fruit is shown in myriad works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual, which Christians carry out all over the world without excluding anyone. In our own life it is shown in the thousand details of service which we offer to those with whom we live and work daily. Kindness inspires us to bring peace and joy wherever we go and to have a constant disposition to be understanding and affable.
Gentleness is intimately united to goodness and perfection, and is, as it were, its finishing and perfection. It opposes those barren outbursts of anger, which really are a sign of weakness. Charity is not irritable or resentful (1 Cor 13:5), but is always gentle and refined, maintained by a great fortitude of spirit. The soul which possesses this gift of the Holy Spirit is not impatient, nor does it harbour resentment for the offences or insults received from others, although it may feel — sometimes very vividly because of its greater sensitivity derived from its friendship with God — the bitterness and harshness, the humiliations they inflict. It knows that God uses all this to purify souls.
Faithfulness follows gentleness. The faithful person fulfils all duties, even the smallest, and is trusted by others. Sacred Scripture tells us: There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence (Sir 6:15). To be faithful is one way of living justice and charity. Faithfulness constitutes a summary of all the fruits which refer to our relations with our neighbour.
The three last fruits which St Paul indicates refer to the virtue of temperance. This, under the influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, produces fruits of modesty, continence, and chastity.
A modest person knows how to behave serenely and properly in each situation, appreciating the talents he or she possesses without magnifying or minimizing them, knowing them to be God’s gift for the service of others. This fruit of the Holy Spirit is reflected in that person’s outward carriage, in his mode of speech and dress, in his dealings with people and social relations. Modesty is attractive because it bespeaks simplicity and inner order.
The two last fruits which St Paul indicates are continence and chastity. As if by instinct, the soul is extremely vigilant to avoid what might damage interior and exterior purity, so pleasing to God. These fruits which give beauty to Christian life and dispose the soul to understanding what refers to God, can be gathered even in the midst of great temptations, if one avoids the occasion and struggles with decision, knowing that the grace of God will never be lacking.
As we finish our prayer, we draw near the Most Blessed Virgin, because God uses her so that, by the influence of the Paraclete, she will produce abundant fruit in souls. I am the Mother of fair love, of fear, of knowledge and of holy hope. Come to me, you who desire me, and eat your fill of my produce. For the remembrance of me is sweeter than honey and my inheritance sweeter than the honeycomb (Sir 24:19-20).
Source: F. Fernandez Carvajal, In Conversation with God, Vol. II, 94 in https://scepterpublishers.org/products/in-conversation-with-god-volume-2-lent-and-eastertide (with permission).
THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT HERE.
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