You will be My Witnesses

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.” (Acts 2:1-4)

While the apostles had encountered the resurrected Christ, it was Pentecost that “enabled the birth of the Church.” (Pope Francis, Golden Jubilee of Catholic Charismatic Renewal) as the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were given the grace and boldness to proclaim the Good News to all the world. They were also gifted with different charisms so as to build the Church. The word, “Charism” from the New Testament comes from Greek and means, “favour” or “gratuitous gift”. These spiritual gifts are special gifts given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness to all (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2003). The traditional seven gifts and the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit edify, transform us, and present us with inner Christ-likeness, and are meant for us to keep. The charisms are gifts we give away and act as a means which God’s love is channeled through us to impact and benefit other people (C.C.C. 1830 – 1832). Charisms also differ from talents in that charisms are not in-born.

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “What we learn in the New Testament on charism, which appeared as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but a reality ever alive. It is the same divine Spirit, soul of the Church, that acts in every age and those mysterious and effective interventions of the Spirit are manifest in our time in a providential way.” (31 October 2008) Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical, Dominum et Vivificantem (Lord and Giver of Life), 1986 in reference to the Holy Spirit writes the word, “power” more than sixty times. Perhaps, drawing our attention to the fact that we may be drawing upon our own limited sources of power, rather than tapping in and plugging in to the Holy Spirit, our infinite and constant source of power and life.  As we celebrate  Pentecost, God is calling us to a life work of love. We can better celebrate this solemnity by discerning our unique call through our charisms (Catherine of Siena Institute).

The primary lists of charisms in the Bible, can be found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. St. Thomas Aquinas also lists out 14 charisms in his Summa Theologica (Catherine of Sienna Institute). While there are many gifts, the Holy Spirit is one and the same. It is the same Spirit who gives these charisms.

The traditional gifts are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts are bestowed upon baptism and at Confirmation, we confirm our acceptance of these gifts. However these gifts remain dormant until the opportune time, or when they are activated via the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In the Motivational Gifts, which are given to us at the moment of our conception, is our unique vocation in life. These gifts are: Prophecy, Ministry, Teaching, Exhorting/Encouraging, Contributing, Administrating, and Showing Mercy. Peter 4:8-11 shows us how to use our Motivational Gifts – “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.“

The Manifestation or Charismatic Gifts are given freely under the sovereignty of God at any needed time to build the Church and the individual. These include: Gifts of Insight or Revelation, such as Expression of Knowledge, Expression of Wisdom, Discernment of Spirits, and Gifts of Communication and Utterance: Tongues, which can be further distinguished as Prayer Tongues, a permanent gift, and Speaking in Tongues, a transient gift only when there is an anointing. While there has been much emphasis on this gift, it is described as the least of the gifts, and acts as a gateway to the other gifts, Interpretation of Tongues takes on a prophetic dimension as what was indelible to the human ear is given meaning, and Prophecy.

The Dynamic or Power Gifts are Faith, Gifts of Divine Healing, and the Working of Miracles in the Holy name of Jesus.

In the Ministry Gifts, we have our specific role and function in the Church as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. More in-depth information about the charisms may be found on:



By Brian Bartholomew Tan