Catholic Dictionary

Charismata (kehr-IHZ-mah-tuh) or Charisms (KEHR-ih-zuhms)

Our English word "charism" is from the Greek charisma(ta), which refers to a "free gift." The term has both a nontechnical and a technical sense to it. At a nontechnical level, charismata refers to spiritual gifts in general (Rom 1:11, 5:15 ff., 11:29; 1 Cor 1:17), eternal life (Rom 6:23), or answers to prayers (2 Cor 1:11). Charismata are special gifts that, as service directed to the Lord, manifest the work of God through the Holy Spirit all for the common good of the body of believers, the Church. This "work of God" includes a myriad of behaviors, and especially a knowledge of God, as the following four texts make clear: Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:8-10, 12:28, 12:29-30. The gifts always point to the giver; their authentic use in the Church is a fulfillment of God's work initiated in the O.T. (e.g., prophetic discernment: 1 Kgs 22:28; gifts of the Spirit for the messianic age: Is 11:2; change of heart: Ez 36:26 ff.).

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Catholic Dictionary, Revised, by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. This 608-page paperback book is $9.95 plus S&H. Includes an easy-to-use pronunciation guide and a complete history of Catholic terminology. Handy pocket size.

Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Dictionary. Copyright © 2004, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

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