The Fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Triune God, the Most Holy Trinity, and St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians provides a list of nine fruits of the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal 5:22,23). These fruits emanate or proceed from the Holy Spirit, and they reveal what the Holy Spirit is like. They serve as the Spirit’s character traits. And because the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity, and because the three persons are one, the fruits of the Spirit reveal what God is like.
Good Fruits Intended to Grow. The grace and power of the Holy Spirit give increase to these fruits. Wherever the Holy Spirit receives welcome and cooperation, the fruits expand and intensify. It may be a person or any size group, as small as a married couple or a family, or as large as a school or a parish, a business or an organization, a nation or the Church. Whenever an individual or a group follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, and the other fruits increase, but when the Spirit is opposed, these fruits diminish or vanish altogether.
Love. Agape love is the highest form of love, love for both God and neighbor. It is selfless, focused on the other person, given freely and gladly without condition or the expectation of repayment, expressed in service, and willing to suffer on another’s behalf.
Joy. Joy is an interior contentment that comes from being close to God and in right relationship with others. It is joy to know God’s love, presence, and compassion, to realize that all is an undeserved gift from God, and to be in compliance with God’s will. Joy also comes with speaking and upholding the truth, honesty and integrity in relationships, enduring hardships, and decent conduct.
Peace. Peace is the harmony that occurs when justice prevails. It happens when resources are shared equitably, power is used for service, interdependence is fostered, information is shared openly and honestly, the dignity of each person is respected, legitimate differences are tolerated, the disadvantaged receive help, hurts are forgiven, and the common good is upheld.
Patience. Patience is the virtue of suffering interruption or delay with composure and without complaint; to suffer annoyance, insult, or mistreatment with self-restraint, refusing to be provoked; and to suffer burdens and difficult tasks with resolve and determination. It is also the willingness to slow down for another’s benefit, to set aside one’s personal plans and concerns, to go at another’s pace, and to take whatever time is necessary to address their need.
Kindness. Kindness is a warm and friendly disposition toward another. A kind person is polite and well-mannered, respectful and considerate, pleasant and agreeable, cheerful and upbeat, caring and helpful, positive and complimentary.
Generosity. God gives beyond all measure and is lavish in generosity, and thus blessed with such munificence, it behooves a person to have an abundance mentality, a bigheartedness, and an unselfishness that shows itself in giving and sharing. It is extended to family and friends, strangers, and particularly those in need, and is offered not only as money, food, and clothing, but also as time shared and assistance provided.
Faithfulness. God is faithful to the covenant and infinitely reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. Faithfulness is demonstrated by loyalty to friends, duties performed, promises kept, commitments fulfilled, contracts completed, vows observed, and being true to one’s word.
Gentleness. Gentleness is sensitivity for another person. It is concerned with another’s welfare, safety, and security. It is grounded in humility. The approach is careful, tender, delicate, considerate, affectionate, and mild-mannered, free of all pushiness, roughness, or abrasiveness.
Self-control. Self-control is self-mastery regardless of the circumstances, to be in control of one’s self rather than to be controlled by temptations, events, or other people, especially when under pressure or in times of crisis. It is a virtue to remain calm, cool, and collected, reasonable and even-tempered; to be alert and conscious, able to slow down, proceed with caution and prudence, and avoid an impulse or kneejerk response; to be a moderating influence; and to have the strength and courage to reject evil and choose good.