top of page

Gift and Talents: For God’s Glory [G1]

Updated: Jun 5


Editor's Note (29/05/24): each and every reference to "gifts and talents" refers to "charisms".


The glory of God is man fully alive”. This quote by St. Irenaeus reminds us that man’s life is the vision of God. When God fully dwells in a person, that person lives life to the fullest and becomes a beacon of God to all creation. In this session, we explore one aspect of the person which makes him fully alive and helps to glorify God, and that is the person’s gifts and talents which God gave.


*All Bible quotes are taken from the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.

Listen to the podcast here:


Opening Prayer


Dear Lord, we ask you to help us be truly alive, to live the Christian life that you will for us and call us. We thank you for the gifts that you have given us and we accept them with gratitude. We pray for your strength to live these gifts in our ministries and to use them to extend your kingdom here on earth such that everyone will come to know and love you because we have been your instruments. Amen.


A. Parable of the Talents


“For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.


He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.


Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’


And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’


He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’


But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 25:14-30)


The Parable of the Talents is both an exciting and cautionary tale.


It is exciting because it is an affirmation from God that he gives us gifts and graces to carry out our mission. Jesus has gone to Heaven to prepare a place for us, but he has sent his Holy Spirit to provide us with gifts so that we are not fending for ourselves here on Earth, and he has given us tools to support us in what he has asked us to do, the mission of evangelization.


It is cautionary because there is a consequence to being slack in what we are called to do. Christians cannot say that God has not given us any mission or help to do his will. The master provides his servants with talents [1]. The master challenges the servants to do something with what he has given them. Though the Gospel uses talent as value, it speaks to us about the gifts and talents that God has given us and how we are called to use them. The parable’s ending is a grim reminder that not responding to God’s graces and gifts and using them would mean we are not responding to God.

B. What Are Charisms?


Charisms are gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit that directly or indirectly benefit the Church, provided to help a person live out their Christian life or to serve the common good in building up the Church [2]. A charism may not be the same as a natural ability that someone has. When we say someone has the charism of teaching and someone is a good teacher, it might or might not be the same thing. The critical difference is God gives the charism.


Charisms are the gifts and talents that God gives us. These gifts and talents come in many forms as the Holy Spirit is free to give as he pleases, and he also gives in response to a need in the Church at that time.


To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:7-11)

The Church believes that everyone is gifted and graced by God, and these gifts, whether great or small, are given for usefulness to the ecclesial community, the Church, humanity and the world [3]. Gifts and talents are given to individuals and can be shared by others to continue a heritage. The sharing of charisms can be seen in the many religious communities that continue in the spirit and charism of their founders.


Like any gift given by God, it is not forced upon us but must be accepted with gratitude (CCC 800). The gifts and talents prepare us, support us in our apostolic mission, and build our holiness.


“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom 12:6-8)


St. Paul lists a few gifts and talents in Romans 12, but his purpose was to encourage the Romans to use their gifts, and he defined how they were meant to be used for the Church. The gifts and talents are such as important part of our Christian life that the Church calls for everyone to discern their gifts and talents (CCC 801).


C. How To Discern Our Gifts and Talents

Pope Francis shared that “alone, one cannot understand whether one has a charism and which one [4].” It is only in the community that we learn to recognise our gifts because it is in a community where it can manifest as a sign of God’s love for his people. Our gifts and talents will positively impact the community or society such that God’s glory, love and will is made known to those who are touched by the things we do.


As mentioned above, the Church says that discerning our gifts and talents is necessary because of the benefits to our Christian life and mission. Pope Francis reminds us about our duty to use our gifts and talents to evangelise. In Evangelii Gaudium, he exhorts us that the charisms are “drawn to the centre [of the Church] which is Christ and then channelled into an evangelising impulse [5].” Our gifts and talents working together help to dispose others to sanctifying grace.


As in the passage from Matthew above, God has already given us the gifts to help him grow the Church. When we do not discern, we become the servant who hides the talent and is cast out. Jesus has strong words in another parable for a servant who does not follow the Master’s will:


And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more (Lk 12:47-48).


Let us take heart in a God who has given us the graces to carry out his will. All we need to do is accept them, use them and trust in Him. He requires us to love, and He will use us as instruments to change the world.


When thinking about your gifts and talents, here are some helpful questions to distinguish it from just natural abilities [6]:


Is it used for the growth of the Church?


People are attracted to Christ and his Church when we use our gifts and talents and are drawn to know and love God more. It means people are helped to pray better, more people join the Church through baptism, Catholics become more fervent and knowledgeable about their faith, and others.


Corrinne May is someone who has the charism of music and through her songs she has brought so many people closer to God.


Is it used in conformity with the authentic promptings of the Holy Spirit so it does not disturb nor confuse the faithful?


Charisms are used only at the prompting of the Spirit. So it is not just something you can “turn on and off” when you wish. When our gifts and talents are used, people are drawn together and are given clarity on God’s will and love for them. It may not be a charism if something is done that causes division and fighting.


Does it work in tandem with other gifts and talents that the Holy Spirit has bestowed on others?


Gifts and talents are varied and numerous. You are part of a Church of a billion people, and you might be part of a community and ministry where God will gift everyone in different ways. Your gifts and talents works with others to make things better, such as gifts and talents in music and service coming together to make the mass more reverent. Our gifts and talents do not aim to “shine” and stand out for our sake; they are there to draw people to God.


We can see the numerous gifts and talents in the Archdiocese of Singapore coming together for the Catholic200SG celebrations. We had people leading prayers and worship, giving formation talks, helping with technology and live streaming, putting up exhibitions and art, and so much more. Together, all these gifts and talents came together to make a meaningful celebration of the 200 years of the Church in Singapore.


Is it submitted to the Pastors of the Church?


This means that when we exercise our gifts and talents, we exercise it under the mission and direction of the Church. In your parish, we must listen to our priests if they advise us on using our gifts. Pope St. John Paul said that it is the task of Pastors to discern the authenticity of charisms [8].


On top of these four questions, we would encourage a final one:


Does the use of the gift and talent bring you closer to God through peace and joy?


In our experience of seeing people with God-given gifts and talents, they are energised and happy. Their joy overflows to those whom they encounter when using the gifts. They can use their gifts over extended periods and do it willingly and happily. They feel closer to God after the exercise of their gift.


Start discerning your gifts and talents now and use them to glorify God.

D. Gifts and Talents You Might Have


Even though gifts and talents can be various, it is helpful in the discernment process to know some of the gifts the Holy Spirit has been giving. The Holy Spirit has been providing gifts for millennia, so it is possible that he has gifted others in the same way, and we will be able to identify with those gifts.


Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28, and Ephesians 4 provide a list of gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows. Here are some of the gifts listed in the passages: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, helps, acts of mercy, wisdom, knowledge, healing, faith, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, administration, speaking, and evangelisation.

"The Dream of Solomon" by Luca Giordano (1693), showing God granting the gift of wisdom to Solomon when the latter was sleeping.

We want to introduce the Called and Gifted charism discernment process from the Catherine of Siena Institute. This process is to help individuals to discern their charism which takes into account the personal experience, feedback of others, guided discernment through an interview as well as the community, and through experimentation. They have developed a comprehensive inventory of 24 charisms which covers most of the gifts in the bible and others from their experience. They provide a guide on how to use the charisms and what each charism means so that it helps to put that charism into focus for discernment and use.


The Institute’s 24 charisms are divided into seven categories:


1. Pastoral Charisms of Encouragement, Hospitality, Helps, Pastoring, and Mercy

These charisms are to help individuals and communities to develop and grow. They build the common good so that people come out better and are supported.


2. Communication Charisms of Evangelism, Prophecy, and Teaching

These charisms focus on spreading truth because all truths point to God.


3. Organisational Charisms of Giving, Leadership, Service, and Administration

These charisms help with running groups and organisations. They help to make things efficient and move things along.


4. Charisms of Healing which are Healing and Intercessory Prayer

These charisms allow the people gifted to be an instrument of God’s healing grace.


5. Charisms of Understanding which are Knowledge, Wisdom, and Discernment of Spirits

These charisms help people to know and understand more the ways of God.


6. Lifestyle Charisms of Faith, Missionary, Voluntary Poverty, and Celibacy

These charisms are different in that they are not things people do for others but are charisms to help the person gifted to be more effective in their ministry and a sign of God’s love and grace.


7. Creative Charisms of Craftsmanship, Music and Writing

These charisms help to show God through beauty and “beauty would save the world [9].”

"Deposition of Christ" by Fra. Angelico (1432-1434). A Dominican, His gift of painting communicated to others contemplation of the mysteries so well that theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar said that he represented the Dominican motto perfectly. The figure in blue to the right of Christ in the painting is allegedly his self-portrait. Beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 1982, he is the patron saint of artists.

Conclusion


We started the journey of the A-Z of DiscipleSHIP by awakening ourselves and coming to know what discipleship was. We rooted ourselves in the Bible, the Creed and the Eucharist. It is time in our journey where we take action by being wise in our finances and also discerning our charisms because the journey of faith is both internal and external. We must put our faith into action and help to evangelise and disciple others.


We must discern our charisms so that we are not the idle or scared servant but we become the servants who put our talents to good use so that our Master is happy and gives us more. We all can do with more graces in our lives.


Closing Prayer


Dear Lord, help us to discern our charism. Let it be used for your glory. Let us not shy away from difficulties but to use our charisms boldly for your will. Help everyone come to know their charisms so that the Church maybe enriched by faithful Catholics who live their lives and that it becomes a beacon of your light and love. Amen.


* Is there anything in this session that struck you or any thoughts, experiences or ideas which come to your mind? Please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

** Thank you for joining us on the A-Z of DiscipleSHIP. We look forward to having you with us again next month, as we study the letter “H”, for History of Salvation.


Recommended Closing Songs


Recommended Readings


Weddell, Sherry A. Forming Intentional Disciples.


McDonnell, Killian, and Montague, George. Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries


Reflection and Sharing Questions

Post-Confirmands

Young Adults

Working Adults

Married Couples / Parents

Single / Separated / Divorced / Widowed

The above questions can also be downloaded in PDF form here:

G1 Gifts and Talents Sharing Questions
.pdf
Download PDF • 116KB

Download the slides here:

G1 Gifts and Talents
.pdf
Download PDF • 406KB


© Presented by the Catholic Theology Network (writers / contributors / sound): Keenan Tan (M.A., Theology, Augustine Institute), Dominic Chan (M.A., Theology, Augustine Institute), Nick Chui (MTS, JPII Institute for Marriage and Family, AU), Debra Dass (Diploma in Theology, CTIS), Marcia Vanderstraaten (Diploma in Theology, CTIS); publicity & design: Chandra Nugraha.


Footnotes


1. A talent is a unit of weight and value which was worth more than fifteen years’ wage of a labourer.



3. Pope St. John Paul II. Christifideles Laici. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1988, 24 (where Pope St. John Paul II discusses “charisms”).


5. Francis. Evangelii Gaudium. Apostolic Exhortation. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, 130 (where Pope Francis describes the charisms at the service of a communion which evangelizes).




8. Pope St. John Paul II. “Wednesday 5 August 1998”, at 5. In Audiences of Pope John Paul II (English). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2014. Pope St. John Paul II completes the above sentence this way, “… and to regulate their exercise in an attitude of humble obedience to the Spirit, of disinterested love for the Church’s good and of docile fidelity to the supreme law of the salvation of souls”.


9. Dostoieffsky, Fedor. The Idiot. Translated by Frederick Whishaw. Vizetelly’s Russian Novels. London; New York; Washington; Chicago: Vizetelly & Co.; Brentanos, 1887, 172.

302 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page