What are Charisms?
The word "charismatic" comes from the Greek word for "gift." There are many charisms, and God distributes them differently to different people. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 7:7 shows us that everyone, "has a particular gift [charisma] from God, one of one kind and one of another."
The Catholic Church teaches some basic facts about charisms in The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), paragraphs 798 - 801:
They have a purpose: Through the charisms, the Holy Spirit, "makes the faithful 'fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.' (CCC 798)
They are good: "Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world." (CCC 799)
We must welcome them: "Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms." (CCC 800)
They must be discerned: "It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. 'Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,' (1 Thessalonians 5:12,19-21) so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good." (CCC 801)
They are to be used: St. John of the Cross provides further insights into the wise and humble use of charisms to help us use them as God intends.
Where are Charisms in the Bible?
1 Corinthians chapter 12 lists many charisms, including:
Romans 12:6-8 lists some more:
Everyone has different gifts, but together, the Church has all the gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:4, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit."
Early Christian writings show that God works through charisms especially in the context of the Church community:
"In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God." - St. Irenaeus, 2nd century bishop, Gaul (France), Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter 6.
"For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time." - St. Justin Martyr, 2nd century, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 82.
1 Corinthians 12:11-25, "But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you." Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another."
1 Peter 4:10-11, "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever."
Romans 12:4-6, "For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them."
"to all Christians: open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us!" - Pope John Paul II, St. Peter's Square, June 3, 1998
"Every charism is in relation with the growth of the whole Body of Christ." - Pope Benedict XVI, address to the Emmanuel Community, February 3, 2011
Read more in the article Let the Fire Fall: Gifts of Charismatic Prayer in the Arlington Catholic Herald, February 22, 2007.