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Literally "gifts of grace" (charismata), described by St. Paul as gratuitous blessings of an extraordinary and transitory nature conferred directly for the good of others. Indirectly they may also benefit the one who possesses the charisms, but their immediate purpose is for the spiritual welfare of the Christian community.
Depending on the classification, the charisms are variously numbered. The longest single enumeration is in St. Paul (I Corinthians 12:1-14, 40). Spiritual writers often list five categories, based on the Pauline writings and the Acts of the Apostles, namely charisms of instruction, administration, miracles, service, and prayer.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.