Last week we looked at the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (courage), knowledge, fear of the Lord, and piety. Those who collaborate with the Holy Spirit and who use these seven gifts experience the Fruits of the Spirit.
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul lists the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
Let us look at these closer.
Love: Agape love is the highest form of love for both God and neighbor. It is selfless, focused on the other person, and is freely and gladly given without condition or the expectation of repayment.
This love does not depend on the other person deserving it. It is expressed in service and in a willingness to suffer for others. This love is based on the love God has for us.
Joy is a gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen throughout the day. It is an interior contentment that comes from being close to God and from a right relationship with others.
Joy comes alive when we focus on God’s purposes for our lives. It is also present when we speak and uphold the truth with honesty in all our relationships.
Peace is the harmony that occurs when God’s justice prevails. It happens when resources are shared equitably, when power is used for service, when interdependence is fostered, when information is shared openly and honestly. The dignity of each person is respected and legitimate differences are tolerated; the disadvantaged receive help, hurts are forgiven, and the common good is upheld.
Patience is the virtue of suffering interruptions or delays with composure and without complaint. It suffers annoyance, insult, or mistreatment with self-restraint, by refusing to be provoked. It tolerates burdens and difficult tasks with resolve and determination without lashing out.
It is the willingness to slow down for another’s benefit, to set aside one’s personal plans and concerns, to go at a slower pace to take whatever time is necessary to address other’s needs.
Kindness is a warm and friendly disposition toward another. A kind person is polite and well-mannered, respectful and considerate, pleasant and agreeable, cheerful and upbeat, caring and helpful, and positive and generous. Kind people always look for ways to meet other’s needs.
Generosity reflects God’s quality of unlimited giving. It is being bountifully grounded in an abundant mentality. It is unselfish and it expresses itself in sharing. It is extended to family, to friends, to strangers, and particularly to those in need. It offers not only money, food, and clothing, but also time shared and assistance. It encourages generosity in others.
Faithfulness is a constant loyalty to someone or to something regardless of extenuating circumstances. Faithful persons are loyal to Christ and to their friends, perform their duties with diligence, keep their promises, fulfill their commitments, complete their contracts, observe their vows, seek the good of others, and keep their word.
Gentleness is sensitivity for another person. It is concerned with another’s welfare, safety, and security; it is grounded in humility. A gentle person forgives others. Their approach is careful, tender, considerate, affectionate and mild-mannered, with no pushiness or harshness.
Self-control is self-discipline or self-mastery that we develop with the help from the Holy Spirit regarding the circumstances of our lives.
With God’s help, we control our lives rather than allowing temptations, events or other people to control us. It is the ability to remain calm, cool, and collected when tempted. It’s acting with caution and prudence rather than with an impulsive response. It is the ability to have the strength and courage to reject evil and to choose the good.