How the Gifts of the Holy Spirit work in us

Friends in Christ, in preparation for Pentecost, we have spoken recently about the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Gifts are different from the virtues, and this is something we can speak about today.
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Father Tanquery, in his famous book on the spiritual life[i] says that God can act in us in two ways: One way, is to accommodate himself to our human mode of action. This is what he does in the case of the virtues. Here, WE take the initiative in doing good actions, and as we know, if we do a certain good action over and over, it becomes a habit in us, and this is a virtue. So if we act with courage, again and again, we can develop a virtue of being courageous. But in developing such virtues in ourself, God leaves US to take the initiative, although we still act under his grace.
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But in the case of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, God takes the initiative. Before we have had the time to reflect or ponder, he sends us divine intuitions, and inspirations. Unlike the case of the virtues, we do not plan these actions, but instead we suddenly receive promptings, and invitations to act. By consenting to these Gifts of God, these movements in our soul, well, we are being led by the Holy Spirit, just like the saints.
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In the case of the virtues, we reflect and make choices. But under the influence of the Gifts we allow ourselves be led by a divine inspiration which suddenly and without any reflection on our part, urges us and empowers us, to do or know such and such a thing. To practice virtue is like rowing in a boat. To use the Gifts, is to sail along by the wind.
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The spiritual masters say this: ‘A child who walks slowly, with help from his mother is like the practice of virtue helped by grace. But when the child is taken up in the mother’s arms and travels most rapidly, this is to be carried by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
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The harpist who strikes the strings of the harp is like the work of virtue. But when the Holy Ghost himself touches the strings of the heart, the soul is then under the wonderful influence, of his Gifts.

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[i] Tanquery, p. 610-11

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