A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit

by Maria Kennedy

by Maria Kennedy

In Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal 5:22-23) there are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. To these we will add, in the tradition of the Catholic Church, three more (see italics) to make the following twelve fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, modesty and chastity. If we were to put flesh and blood onto these spiritual fruits in the everyday actions of people, what would they look like? Roger and Barbara, a retired couple, will show us the way.

The above fruits are listed in a specific order. Love (charity), the most important of them all is first because from love all the other fruits flow. Joy and peace follow because these fruits flow from love. To love brings joy and when we are joyful in love outward threats do not disturb us and our inner turmoil ceases and hence we are at peace. Patience allows us to hold steady while love is either threatened or delayed. Kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness describe various actions in how we reach out to love our neighbour. Self control, modesty and chastity keep tabs on our personal behaviour. And so the fruits start with the love of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts and lead to love of neighbour and love of self—the order of the fruits is in its right and respectful order.

To quote the thirteenth century theologian Thomas Aquinas, “fruits are any virtuous deeds in which one delights,” As Aquinas further points out, we delight in these behaviours because they are good and their goodness refreshes us. Our modern thinking questions the origin of their source. Is this the Holy Spirit in action in our lives or is this merely good human behaviour? As Christians we believe the wind of the Holy Spirit blows in our lives even though we cannot see this happening. As a writer I have tried to make the invisible actions of the Holy Spirit visible and I have tried to describe what people are like when they bear the gifts of these fruits. My attempts are like a faint light and very akin to the image of being in a dark cave and looking to the light outside it.

With Roger and Barbara we will journey through  a selection of the twelve fruits in future months.

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