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Elusive and multi-faceted as it may be, the meaning of charism creates associations including grace, gratuity, gift, and generosity. It seems widely established that a charism is the result of divine largesse, an expression of God's favor, and a gratuitous gift of his love. Mentioned seventeen times in the New Testament, the term charism is indebted primarily to Paul's theology of grace, and its twofold instrumentalization as gift extraordinaire or grace of state. The division thus marked highlights the complementarity between the special graces of healing, speaking in tongues, and miracles, but also the more utilitarian form of charism destined to the service of the community. If the former kind of charism will always be an exquisite sign of God's gratia gratis data to spirituals and mystics, the latter and community-oriented gift will be important in inspiring fervor and dynamic development to the young church.

According to Paul this "grace of state" will prompt both decision and acceptance into the Church. It will be especially useful for the edification of the Church and helpful to attain a higher degree in the spiritual life. In short, charism is not without a sanctifying influence on the individual since it is always accompanied by an effusion of the Holy Spirit.


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