Twelve Days of Christmas, Day 7: Seven Swans a-swimming

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming…”

Symbolism:  The seven swans a swimming stand for both the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Seven Sacraments.  The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are outlined in Isaiah 11.2-3 and are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear (or, Respect) of the Lord.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

“[The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit] complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.”
Basically, they’re attributes given as a gift by the Holy Spirit to all receptive Christians.  What makes a Christian receptive?  By living as close to God as possible by avoiding sin through prayer, study of Scripture, and the Sacraments–our other symbolism for the seventh day of Christmas!  The Seven Sacraments are:  Baptism, Communion, Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Orders.
I’ve always loved the definition of a sacrament:  an outward sign of an inward grace.  Basically, sacraments are physical things that we do to give us a physical act to match the inward, intangible work done to us by God.  Few are the people who can completely believe something on faith alone without any sort of physical element, and so we become part of the Christian family by being baptized with water and we are assured of our forgiveness by the laying on of hands in Confession.  We are sealed spiritually and physically by the Holy Spirit with oil during Confirmation, and we partake of the grace of Christ by eating bread and drinking wine at Holy Communion.  We clasp hands and say vows at marriage (interestingly, the only Sacrament that is not performed by the priest; marriage is performed by the couple to each other and the priest officiates!) as well as Holy Orders, and accept another blessing of oil and the strength that Holy Communion gives us during the Anointing of the Sick.  God is so good recognize our fragile human minds and give us these ways to experience Him!
Your Mission:  Pick your favorite Sacrament or Gift of the Holy Spirit and do some research on it.  Wikipedia’s okay, is acceptable, but if you really want to go hard core, look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or find the Biblical basis for it!
Bonus Points:  I know I already put this in a prior challenge, but seriously:  take a spiritual gifts inventory.  It will change your spiritual life.

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