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If a baptized and confirmed Catholic commits a mortal sin, what are the effects on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit received in the sacrament of baptism and later intensified (sealed) in the sacrament of confirmation?


For Part Two question on how to regain the gifts after absolution, see In Catholicism, after receiving absolution from mortal sin, how do we regain the effects of the sacrament of baptism & confirmation?

For a background explanation of the Catholic tri-partite theory of sacrament, see attachment to a related question.

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  • Interesting that the only inquiry is about 'losing the gifts' and not about the Person of the Holy Spirit, Himself.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 22 at 8:56
  • @NigelJ That is not at all what I was implying, I just wanted to make the question more precise. I believe the gifts are very much connected with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (understood in Catholic theology), but AFAIK mortal sin causes the sinner to lose the indwelling. I know that absolution restores the indwelling, but given that there are 2 sacraments where Confirmation intensifies the gifts, I'm just wondering whether a "re-intensifying" phase is needed. I moved the 2nd part of the question elsewhere per Geremia's request. Oct 23 at 16:04
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Discussing the "Connection of the Gifts among Themselves and with Charity", John of St. Thomas writes in The Gifts of the Holy Ghost:

  1. Sinners living without grace can acutely discern, dispute, and even treat of divine things and of mystical or loving understanding as an object and matter of disputation. But they cannot use such an understanding as the principle and motive of their knowledge. For example, I can treat of the intuitive vision of God and of the experimental knowledge of sensible things as the object or matter of a discussion. Yet I do not have the experimental contact with these sensible things nor the intuitive knowledge of God, because I do not use experience and intuition as the principal and formal reason of my knowing. In the same way, the sinner cannot use loving and experimental knowledge as a formal principle. From the very fact that he has not grace, he cannot have a connaturality to the Spirit, nor union with God and experience of Him proper to the gift.
    No one knows except him who has received. [Apocalypse 2:17]
    He may use it as an object and treat of it as he remembers it. And in this respect the great change from the state of grace to the condition of a sinner is in no way felt. However, it is in the experimental and loving knowledge, the internal touch of the Spirit, that a great change and loss is felt.
    For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will draw himself away from thoughts without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity comes in. [Wisdom 1:5]
    The gifts of the Holy Spirit, then, are taken away from sinners.

    On the other hand, those whose hearts are turned to God immediately feel a serenity and tranquillity, and they are relieved of the great burden of sin. This is a sign of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who is the inhabitant of rest. [Isaias 38:11] This peace and serenity is an effect of confession, as the Council of Trent teaches. [session 14, c. 3]

The gift of wisdom cannot remain in a soul that has lost sanctifying grace and charity, though acquired wisdom can:

  1. […] not every illumination of the mind constitutes the gift of wisdom, but only the one which makes for a correct estimate of the final end, which is found only in those having grace.
  1. […] it is most certain that when grace is lost through mortal sin the wisdom which is a gift of the Holy Spirit ceases to be.
    For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity comes in. [Wisdom 1:4–5]
    Therefore, the arrival of iniquity signalizes the departure of the motion of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom will flee from the deceitful. This passage of Scripture cannot be understood of acquired wisdom. For it is a matter of experience that acquired wisdom remains even without grace. Nor is it the charism of wisdom, nor prophecy, which can be found even in sinners. It can be understood, therefore, only of the gift of wisdom.
    […]
    Although sin is a moral aversion, it has many physical effects at least by way of demerit; it takes away grace and destroys charity, it wounds the intellect, and drives out the Holy Spirit. It impedes all His friendly motions. Whether it brings about this overthrow physically or by way of demerit is not the present question. It is sufficient to note that all is destroyed by sin.
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  • The Holy Spirit is given as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). Sin drives out the Holy Spirit to what degree? Oct 22 at 12:19
  • @Geremia Would you please address the 2nd part of my question, about how to restore the gifts after reconciliation? Oct 22 at 13:07
  • @GratefulDisciple The last ¶ of 22. above touches on it, but perhaps open a second question on the restoration of the gifts as an effect of the sacrament of penance.
    – Geremia
    Oct 22 at 16:53
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    @MikeBorden This question's premise is a mortal sin has been committed, which in the Catholic understanding is very seriously culpable enough to in effect say to the Holy Spirit: "I don't want you." Mortal vs. venial is not simply a matter of the result of the act of sin, but most importantly the intention, the understanding, and the disposition (which includes psychological limitation) of the human actor when committing the act. Even the actor himself may not know whether the sin is mortal or venial. So it's best to confess and repent right away. Oct 23 at 15:49
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    The reason I accepted and upvoted the answer (until a better answer comes along): 1) clear reason & Biblical support of why the gifts are taken away; 2) provides tangible ("experimental") sign of the contrasting effects of sin and the peace that comes from repentance; 3) explains the distinction between acquired virtue that remains vs. the gift (which enhances the virtue) that leaves. Oct 23 at 16:00

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