Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Medicinal Gifts of the Holy Spirit

We are currently in the Octave of Pentecost, a time of celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful gifts the Spirit gives to us.  These gifts are so important to the physician in caring for a patient, and as caregivers, we must take a moment and pray that the Holy Spirit will come upon us.  Let us reflect on how the gifts of the Holy Spirit are pertinent to our profession:

1. Wisdom:  is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.  We must pray for wisdom so that our faith may be deepened and our actions towards our patients reflective of the love of Christ given to us through our faith.

2. Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known, Aquinas writes.  As physicians, we must continue to pray for deeper understanding of the will of God and His Truths.  We must continue to seek a deeper understanding of how, through all of the ethical dilemmas and conflicts we encounter, we are to continue to live out God's will and be a beacon of love and Truth to our patients.
3. Counsel: With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus. This gift is so important for us as we make decisions that impact both our moral lives and the moral lives of our patients.  We must be able to clearly see and choose the Good in each situation, even when the path is unclear.  This is a gift we must constantly seek from the Spirit.

4. Fortitude: With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil, especially with regard to goods or evils that are difficult.  Again, this is a gift that we constantly are in need of in our every day practice.  We must have courage to take the risks involved with standing for the Truth and telling our patients and colleagues what is Right and Good.

5. Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God. This gift is more than just the accumulation of facts (something physicians are pretty good at).  It is seeing in this accumulation of facts the deeper truth evident in this world and coming to know how these facts fit into the grander picture that Lord has painted for us.  We must pray that the Spirit will help us to know not only the medical facts to care for the patient, but also the personal and spiritual knowledge we need in order to fully heal this person and help them return or come to know the Lord.
6. Piety: With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit's instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.  As physicians, we must continue to show reverence to the Lord not only in our worship, but in our everdya life, knowning that God is the one who has placed us in our position of healing, and that all of this comes from Him.

7. Fear of the Lord: With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. Through this gift, the Spirit can help us to recognize with wonder and amazement the beauty of the human person.  We must approach our patients with this awe, recognizing them as creations of our most perfect Lord, and as such, worthy of our utmost care and respect.

I hope these brief reflections will help us all seek the gifts of the Spirit as we approach our patients and continue to be witnesses of the Lord's love and truth in our profession.

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