Pope Francis dedicated his weekly general audience to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, saying that rather than making us better than others, they commission us to serve our brothers and sisters.
"A charism is more than a talent or personal quality. It is a grace, a gift that God gives through the Holy Spirit. Not because someone is better than the others, but rather so that he puts it at the service of others with the same gratitude and love with which he has received it."

Pope Francis began his address by drawing the attention of the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square to "the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit," saying that they "enliven and enrich the Body of Christ."

First received at one's baptism, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are traditionally referred to as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They are brought to fruition through the sacrament of confirmation, during which the already-baptized individual receives a particular outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Among each of these gifts are also charisms, the pontiff noted, which he described as "the graces which the Spirit freely bestows upon the faithful for the benefit of the whole community," and which can also be defined in a more general sense as any good gift that God gives to man.

"A charism is more than a talent or personal quality. It is a grace, a gift that God gives through the Holy Spirit," he said, adding that "These gifts, while granted to individuals, are discovered and acknowledged within the wider ecclesial community."

"As a sign of God's superabundant love for his children, they are rich and varied, yet each is meant to serve the building up of the Church as a communion of faith and love."

Going on, the Bishop of Rome explained that the diversity of these gifts "invites us to share them generously for the good of all, and never to let them become a source of division."

"Diverse charisms and gifts with which the Father fills the Church are to grow in harmony, in faith and in his love, as one body only, the Body of Christ, where we each need the other, and where every received gift is fully verified when it is shared with (our) brothers."

It is in this way that the "Supernatural beauty and strength of faith shines" forth, so that "together we may enter the heart of the Gospel and follow Jesus," he observed.

Questioning those present, the Roman Pontiff encouraged each to ask themselves "What charism has the Lord given me? How do I live this charism? Do I assume it with generosity, placing it at the service of all, or have I perhaps neglected or forgotten it?"

"Let us ask the Lord to help us recognize with gratitude this great outpouring of spiritual gifts which enables the Church to persevere in faith, to grow in grace and to be an ever more credible sign and witness of God's infinite love," he said.

Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging all to "consider the special gifts he or she has received, and how we choose to use those gifts to advance the Church's unity, life and mission in the world."

The pontiff then offered special greetings to pilgrims present from various countries around the world, including the young men from the Pontifical North American Collage in Rome who will be ordained deacons in St. Peter's Basilica tomorrow morning.

He gave a special welcome to Msgr. Javier Echevarría, prelate of Opus Dei, as well as all those who came to Rome for the beatification of their former leader, Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo, earlier this week.

The Pope also asked for special prayers for the Extraordinary Assembly on the Synod of Bishops on the Family, which begins this Sunday, Oct. 5, and closes on Oct. 19 with the beatification of Pope Paul VI.