Pentecost by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)The Vatican has approved the Revised Missal Third Typical Edition of the Order of Confirmation—the liturgical rite used for administering the Sacrament of Confirmation—which is now in use throughout Australia. The revised translation of the Order of Confirmation includes a return to the traditional, and more biblically-based names for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. Counsel replaces right judgment, fortitude replaces courage, piety replaces reverence, and fear of the Lord replaces wonder and awe. Catechists will be using the new names for these gifts as they prepare children for reception of Confirmation.

The names used in the revised translation arise in Isaiah’s prophecy of the future Messianic King who would be anointed with the fullness of God’s Spirit (Isa 11:1-3). Interestingly, the Hebrew text mentions only six gifts of the Spirit, while the Greek Septuagint speaks of godliness or piety as a seventh gift. The Catholic tradition of the seven gifts developed from the Septuagint.

Some today may question how fear of the Lord can be a gift of the Spirit: if we are helping our children build a loving relationship with God, why would we encourage them to fear him? The answer is simple: it is not a servile fear, but the fear a child naturally has of offending a loving Father. Scripture often repeats, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear of the Lord, then, is particularly necessary at the beginning of the spiritual life. As the spiritual life begins, we must learn to avoid sin and one of the greatest aids in this is the gift of fearing to offend God because he has been so good and loving towards us. Far from making us cower in fear of a capricious god, this gift of fear forms us into faithful children within God’s household.

The gift of piety is a filial affection for God as our heavenly Father—like a special love or devotion a child has for her parents. The gift of piety is related to the virtue of religion by which we give what is due to God as our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. The gift bestows an impulse to love God, not as an impersonal deity, but as Father. In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus used the term “Abba,” meaning “Daddy.” The gift of piety, then, moves us to act justly to show devotion and tenderness towards God, but also to trust God will continue to Father us as we journey in faith.

As Pentecost approaches, let’s foster a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us through these spiritual gifts received in Baptism and Confirmation.


(Copyright © 2016)

Painting: Pentecost by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)