A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Salvador Dali: Apparuerunt illis dispertitae linguae, The Holy Bible, 1964-66
What are Charisms?
Paul, alone of those who write, speaks of charisms. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit, not for our own sanctification but for others, gifts of great variety, offered immediately to all believers for the building up of the Church.
But there is a wider understanding of charisms as well because charisms are given to all, even those beyond the visible Church, for the building up of the entire human community.
The particular gifts, in all their variety, immediately available to all, do not, however, come directly from God. God offers a share in his divine life to every human in every situation through the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When the human being responds to this gift of divine life, they always respond from a certain perspective.
That perspective is determined by the very creatureliness of the human being, from the genetic reality that they have inherited from their parents, from the particular historical situation in which they find themselves, from the common human sinfulness that surrounds them and their own personal sinfulness, as well as the degree of their acceptance of the divine life into their own.
God’s life is offered to all. The particular response from the particular person in the particular situation manifests itself differently, that is, the way that divine life is taken up and lived out is different from one person to another. These varying manifestations of response to the one gift of divine life are what we call, in a sense broader than Paul’s, charisms.
Some will respond by being artists or teachers or carers for the sick, or prophets, or priests . . . The list is endless as the one gift of divine life is endless in its possible manifestations.
What is important for the believer to realize is that in sayng “yes” to God, to accepting his divine life through the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, that “yes” will have a different manifestation in the life of each different person. That manifestation comes directly from the person but ultimately from the one gift of divine life offered to all.