The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are the actions that flow from the Virtues and the Gifts. The Fruits are spiritual joys that are produced from our works and thoughts when these have reached a degree of maturity in the spiritual life. They come enclosed in a sweetness. They delight our hearts and fill our souls with their fragrance. They are divine consolations. However, they don’t normally become regular until we have reached spiritual maturity, until we have perfected ourselves with God’s Grace. God must use both consolations and desolations in order to cause this perfection within us in order to produce the mature Fruits. Consolations nourish us, fortify us and expand our heart to make us capable of performing sacrifices and sufferings to fulfill God’s Will. However God also knows that desolation is needed to mature the soul and contribute to our perfection just as was true of His human soul. These desolations purify us, detach us from all earthly pleasure and pride, and ultimately open our hearts and souls perfectly to God alone. All of God’s work is perfect, thus we know we must embrace both consolations and desolations in order to imitate the perfect one: Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Martinez teaches us this key: “The Fruits are found in all stages of the spiritual life, because they suppose not an absolute perfection but a relative perfection. We might say each time a soul accomplishes a stage in the spiritual life, it finds a Divine delight. Each level of the spiritual life has its corresponding Fruits.”
God knowing our utter weakness leads us all first with consolations or sweet feelings when we advance toward Him by more time, effort and most importantly our love. Sometimes these pleasures are so intense they can overwhelm us, but they are usually intermittent and often rare.
God in His infinite Wisdom then draws us to know the Virtues and Gifts better as we draw closer to the Holy Spirit as a Person through our begging, our daily prayer to Him and our reading about Him. As we progress, God then draws away the consolations and begins to purify us through pain and suffering, those desolations which can do so much good for our soul! Archbishop Martinez states: “if we had greater serenity of soul, more intense Faith, we would receive with equal gratitude from the hand of God both delight and anguish…Joy is more agreeable to our poor nature than sorrow. Only with difficulty do we appreciate the value of sufferings and the knowledge that perfect happiness springs from sufferings. Both consolations and desolations come from Love, to do the work of God within us.”
The Archbishop describes how God then allows a certain sense of perfection after desolations are lovingly endured, and the soul experiences the Fruits of the Holy Spirit for that stage of the spiritual journey. God then has us start as a beginner at the next stage (whether purgative, illuminative or unitive or somewhere within each stage). God must detach us from consolations in order that we not love God for the sweet feelings, but for Himself alone! It is impossible for us to have the joys of Heaven in our heart while still clinging to the inferior pleasures of earth. The process of sanctification is one of order. We must have all our faculties in order to produce only love…or Divine Charity. Each step of the process is marked by the Fruits being the result of our thoughts and actions, which flow from our habits…the Virtues and the Gifts!
The first three Fruits and the most important are Charity, Joy And Peace. Everything flows from Charity, so this is both a Virtue and a Fruit. The Fruit is the Divine proceeding from the Virtue, the more we practice and are love, the more the Fruit of Charity will proceed from our faculties and acts. This is THE Work of the Holy Spirit: “The Charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” As we become perfected, the Virtue of Charity becomes mature and sweet and the Fruit of Charity is produced by the operation of the Holy Spirit in our soul.
It is logical that Joy follows Charity in order of importance. Every lover rejoices to find and possess the beloved. There is a cry of triumph, a hymn of felicity and joy! The Archbishop then uncovers the truth for us as to why we so often do not have Joy: “We are too often unhappy because we too often keep Charity in an obscure corner of our soul, so to speak, and are not aware of our Joy…we do not realize the treasure we possess.” We also do not trust as a little one. Trust or complete confidence in our Heavenly Father for everything is the key to unlocking Charity and thus Joy! Pray to the Holy Spirit for Trust. For God will take us into His lap as an infant, if we but believe ourselves to be an infant. This is the elevator of spiritual childhood, which God has revealed through the greatest saint of modern times: St. Therese of Lisieux.
Let us continue the Novena to the Holy Spirit as we prepare for the great feast of Pentecost. Go to www.ewtn.com/devotionals/Pentecost/seven.htm.