As Christians, we are expected to manifest the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. These twelve fruits are different from the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They are granted to us during our baptism and perfected through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The seven gifts serve as virtues for us to follow while the twelve fruits are the actions that those virtues produce. We are expected to manifest these fruits in our lives as Christians.
The 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Saint Paul lists down the fruits of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. There are two versions of this text and first version features only nine traditional fruits. The longer text which Saint Jerome used in his Latin translation of the Bible includes three more.
The Latin translation of the Bible is known as the Vulgate and it is the official Biblical text that the Catholic Church uses. This is why we are taught that there are 12 fruits and not nine.
The following are the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit and what they mean:
Charity (or Love)
Charity encompasses our love for God and of our neighbors. This kind of love is not simply a passing feeling or infatuation. It is an unconditional kind of love that expects nothing in return. It puts the needs of others before our own and it manifests in concrete actions toward God and other people.
We all want to be happy but the happiness found in earthly things is fleeting. The joy that is part of the 12 fruits is not an emotional state. Rather, it is a lasting kind of happiness that can only be realized when we put God at the center of our lives and if we believe that we will live our eternal life with Him.
Peace is tranquility that can be experienced when we put our complete trust in God. When we rely on God, we believe that he will provide for our needs and this relieves us from any anxious thoughts about the future.
Patience allows us to have compassion over people in spite of their flaws and weaknesses. This fruit comes from an understanding of our own imperfect state and how God has given us His unconditional love and mercy so we should do the same for others.
Kindness or benignity is more than being kind to others. It is having a heart that is willing to do acts of compassion and give to others above and beyond what we owe to them.
Being good involves constant renouncing of evil in our day to day actions. When we are good, we are constantly seeking the path of righteousness and strive to do God’s will even at the expense of earthly success.
Longanimity is being patient even when being provoked. While patience involves tolerance, longanimity means enduring quietly and remaining steadfast in the midst of attacks of others.
To be mild in behavior means having a heart of forgiveness and grace. It means not being easily provoked and choosing a response of meekness and peace rather than one that leads to revenge.
Faith is at the core of our Christianity. To have faith means living according to the will of God and believing that He is the master of our life.
Being modest means being humble. It is believing that any of our successes, blessings and talents are gifts from God. It also means being content with what we have and not harbor any selfish ambitions.
Continence means having temperance and self-control. It does not mean denying ourselves from what we need or want, it is the ability to exercise moderation in everything we do.
Chastity means giving ourselves to Christ completely whether as a priest, religious or layman. All vocations are called to have chaste in their way of living. Chastity also means indulging our physical desires within the right context such as being sexually pure before marriage and by remaining faithful to one’s spouse.
As a member of the Catholic Faith we are expected to manifest these twelve fruits in our day to day actions. It can be a struggle to remain steadfast and live a Christian way of life especially with all the mixed messages and negative influences that we receive from our culture. However this should only challenge us even more to cultivate our character. The world will certainly become a much more peaceful and happier place if we all worked on becoming more Christ-like everyday.