Talents vs. Gifts
We are all blessed with God given talents such as math, sports or music. These talents are acknowledged by others and with hard work we improve the skills needed to live off that talent. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are also come from God but with intent. A gift will bring people closer to God by providing one or more of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The gift does not change us, it makes us the best version of who we are.
People may pay to watch a great music performance without coming closer to God. Yet every Sunday Tim, our music director, performs and I receive the Fruits of calm and patience with my kids. Tim has a Gift of the Holy Spirit that brings me in communion with God.
Symbols of the Holy Spirit
Water, To Cleanse or Refresh. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, it becomes the sign of new birth. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.
Fire, Powerful Cleansing. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. John the Baptist, proclaims Christ as the one who "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." In the form of tongues "as of fire," the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself. Tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's actions.
Oil, Healing or Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew "messiah") means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit. The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.
Wind, Energy and Power. The original Hebrew and Greek words for “Spirit” can be translated as “wind.” The wind that appeared on Pentecost was reminiscent of the wind that blew over the waters at the beginning of Creation. The wind calls attention to the Holy Spirit breathing life into the Church. Although you cannot see wind, you can discern its presence by watching its effect on its surroundings (for example, trees moving). It is the same with the Holy Spirit.
The dove, Blessing and Gentleness. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him. The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized.