Sealed With the Gift: The Gift of Wisdom

We’re preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way at the celebration of Pentecost, the day we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples who were in one place together in Acts 2. There are so many ways we could prepare. This series is focusing on the gifts the Holy Spirit will provide for those who are prepared to receive them, which will allow us to live entirely for the Lord by prayer and action. For more information about this series, click here to find the original post.

We’re on our final gift: the Gift of Wisdom! Some consider this gift as the most perfect of all the gifts. Whoa.

How does this gift help?

This is the gift of all gifts because it embodies all of the others at once. To explain, I’m going to borrow an image from spiritual master Adolphe Tanquerey. Consider a sunbeam. At one and the same time, this sunbeam produces light for us to see and heat for us to feel warmth. Whoa. The gift of Wisdom is exactly like this sunbeam, except that it does even more than those two things. The ‘light’ produced by Wisdom not only lets us see into the Divine Mysteries, but it also delights the ‘eyes’ of the soul. The ‘heat’ produced by Wisdom not only brings warmth to the heart, but also sets it on fire with divine love and fills it with deep joy. Whoa! What a gift indeed! With the gift of Wisdom, we not only come to know the divine truths, but we also come to love and relish them. As Psalm 33 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”

Practically speaking, the gift of Wisdom produces three effects in the hearts of those who have received it:

  1. Wisdom makes faith unshakable! We actually experience the truths of our faith. We actually “see” the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, so how could we ever doubt?
  2. Wisdom steadies our hope! We come to understand our role in sharing the life of Jesus Christ and being members of His Body. All the Saints who have gone before us are our own brothers and sisters. If the Head is already in Heaven, how could we lose hope that the body will surely follow?
  3. Wisdom enables us to live virtuously! This isn’t just any virtue, either, but instead heroic virtue! We get a real taste of the joys of divine love, so those of earth lose their appeal. We begin to love the Cross, mortification, effort, temperance, humility, and meekness, because these show us the way to become more like our Beloved Savior.

Who needs this gift?

Anyone who desires Eternal Life needs this gift.

How do I prepare myself to receive the gift of Wisdom?

Beg the Lord for it!

Strive to see how all truths come from God and point to Him. Look for patterns in everything, patterns that go beyond the details and stretch the Heaven. Everything created by God is meant to point us back to Him.

Seek to love and enjoy divine things and recall that all knowledge is vain that does not lead to an increase in love. Everything is vain that does not lead us to “taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them forever. Amen.

 

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I should note that much of what I’ve written over the past two weeks came from the same spiritual master I’ve mentioned a couple of times, Adolphe Tanquerey, and his book The Spiritual Life.

Sealed With the Gift: The Gift of Understanding

We’re preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way at the celebration of Pentecost, the day we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples who were in one place together in Acts 2. There are so many ways we could prepare. This series is focusing on the gifts the Holy Spirit will provide for those who are prepared to receive them, which will allow us to live entirely for the Lord by prayer and action. For more information about this series, click here to find the original post.

We’re almost done! Two left: today’s review takes us to the gift of Understanding.

How does this gift help?

Have you ever asked the question, “Why does the Church teach _____?” or “How can we really know this teaching is true?” or some other similar question about some teaching of Christianity? If so, the gift of Understanding will be a great help for you! The gift of Understanding enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths. This isn’t to say we’ll understand everything perfectly – if that could happen, we would too easily lose the sense of mystery, which is so important. Still, this gift helps us see beneath the proverbial surface to find the spiritual reality and meaning. In fact, the gift of Understanding shows us the truths of faith in such a strong light that we are actually confirmed in our belief. From this deeper understanding, we’re then able to draw even more truths out of what we’ve come to know. Whoa! The gift of Understanding leads to even more understanding! It’s like a fire that feeds itself!

Who needs this gift?

Everyone needs this gift! Those who especially need the gift of Understanding are those who need to be able to explain the various doctrines to others: priests, parents, teachers, etc.

How do I prepare myself to receive the gift of Understanding?

The best way to obtain this gift is to create an attitude of simple faith which always humbly asks the Lord for divine light. After asking for this gift, dive into the mysteries of our Faith. Go right to the heart of the doctrines and seek to grasp its meaning. Look at each truth in relation to another and see how they connect. Study and love the different truths.

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Your Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of You and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Sealed With the Gift: The Gift of Knowledge

We’re preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way at the celebration of Pentecost, the day we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples who were in one place together in Acts 2. There are so many ways we could prepare. This series is focusing on the gifts the Holy Spirit will provide for those who are prepared to receive them, which will allow us to live entirely for the Lord by prayer and action. For more information about this series, click here to find the original post.

We’ll continue our investigation of these gifts with the gift of Knowledge.

How does this gift help?

The gift of Knowledge helps us see everything in relation to God. Everything around us – especially nature – is meant to lead us to the Lord. Because of our sinfulness and the distractions of the world, we so easily lose sight of God. The gift of Knowledge helps clear our vision and quiet our senses – what a gift! With this gift, we can see how all created things can lead us to God. A great example of one who had this gift is St. Francis of Assisi. He looked out on the created world and called everything “Brother” or “Sister” because all of creation shared a common relationship of being created by God and destined for his glory. What’s more, all of these created gifts are meant to lead us to a spirit of thankfulness to our good Father who loves us so much that he would create everything as a reminder of his love for us. This gift will detach us from creatures by showing us how empty and fleeting they are, allowing us to see that no creature can make us perfectly happy. It will even allow us to see whether this creature or that will lead to disordered desires and, thus, turn us away from God. 

The gift of Knowledge also helps us see clearly our own motives – and the source of our motives – for everything we do and say. In short, the gift of Knowledge reveals to us the state of our soul. It helps us see how to move forward toward the good, even toward the best good which is our salvation.

Who needs this gift?

While it’s clear everyone needs this gift, there may be a particular need for those who are especially bogged down with worldly things, things which easily distract us from thoughts of Heaven. This gift will be of great help for those who find themselves more attracted to worldly comforts and pleasures than to the thought of Heaven and worshiping our God forever.

This gift will also be a great aid to those who are charged with leading others in the spiritual life, because it will help them see how to lead souls away from worldly attractions and toward the Lord.

How do I prepare myself to receive the gift of Knowledge?

Make it your goal to look at everything with the eyes of faith. Ask the questions: How will this thing help me achieve salvation? What does God intend for me with this thing? After answering these questions, we will begin to see what is useful for our salvation and what is useless. We will begin to know when it is a good time to forgo even something good in order to sacrifice for the Lord, which will gradually help detach ourselves from creatures.

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to You, and Your eternal rewards. Amen.

Sealed With the Gift: The Gift of Fear

We’re preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way at the celebration of Pentecost, the day we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples who were in one place together in Acts 2. There are so many ways we could prepare. This series is focusing on the gifts the Holy Spirit will provide for those who are prepared to receive them, which will allow us to live entirely for the Lord by prayer and action. For more information about this series, click here to find the original post.

Our next gift to review is the gift of Fear (it may be called Fear of the Lord).

How does this gift help?

This is a great gift! Do you remember when we looked at the gift of Piety and from the gift of Piety we begin to see God as the best and most loving Father? Perfect. Keep that thought in mind as we review the gift of Fear. The gift of Fear helps us desire to please God in everything we do, say, and think. Where does the fear come into play? The gift of fear gives us a vivid sense of God’s greatness and therefore extreme dread of the least sin that may offend him. This gift helps us want to not disappoint our good Father. Because we hold onto the greatness of God at all times, we experience great sorrow at even the smallest sin against him and desire to make up for it by multiplying our acts of love and sacrifice. What’s more, this gift leads us to vigilantly avoid temptations to sin, much like we would avoid a rattle snake or some other deadly creature. This includes growing in detachment from any worldly pleasures that may lead us away from our Father.

Who needs this gift?

Some people begin to take God’s mercy for granted. They begin to think God doesn’t mind this sin or that, or even that God doesn’t mind any sin committed against himThese are the people who need to receive this gift! God cares about everything we do, and he especially cares about our sinful actions. He wants us to live entirely for him, which means avoiding sinful behavior. Our sinful behavior can keep us from Heaven! Too many people forget that he is still the infinite God. Yes, he loves us with such tender love and he is always ready to forgive our sins when we repent of them, but he is still the infinite God and demands excellence from his children.

How do I prepare myself to receive the gift of Fear?

Every day, sit down and examine your conscience and ask the Lord to reveal to you those times when you have offended him. This may mean picking up a detailed Examination of Conscience at your local parish or online. Ask the question: Do I hate my sins? Do I want to be freed from my tendency toward this sin or that? Am I aware of how much I offend the Lord by turning away from him? Am I aware of God’s infinite majesty or have I forgotten? Have I become too complacent in my relationship with God? Do I strive to please my Heavenly Father in everything I do, say, and think?

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever. Help me to shun all things that can offend you, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of your Divine Majesty in Heaven, where you live and reign in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Sealed With the Gift: The Gift of Fortitude

We’re preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in a new way at the celebration of Pentecost, the day we recall the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the disciples who were in one place together in Acts 2. There are so many ways we could prepare. This series is focusing on the gifts the Holy Spirit will provide for those who are prepared to receive them, which will allow us to live entirely for the Lord by prayer and action. For more information about this series, click here to find the original post.

Let’s continue our preparation with the gift of Fortitude. (Some translations of the Bible call this strength or might or power)

How does this gift help?

Have you ever had to go up against something that seemed impossible, whether it was persecution, overcoming some sinful habit, standing up for your faith, or even health problems, such as cancer or some other serious matter that threatened your health? Are you going up against something like this right now? The gift of Fortitude can be of great service to you! This gift gives us a certain energy to do great things joyfully and fearlessly despite all obstacles. It brings with it determination, assurance, joy, the certain hope of success, and so brings about greater results. It allows us to act heroically and endure courageously.

We become willing to take on the most strenuous tasks: consider the saints who have gone off to missionary lands preaching the Gospel in the midst of persecution, or those who have the ability to not get caught up in human praise and only seek to bring glory to God. We also become willing to endure courageously the various sufferings that may be encountered during this life, such as bodily illnesses or suffering through the battle of giving our entire life for the sake of the Gospel – even to the point of martyrdom!

Who needs this gift?

Perhaps you can notice a trend with all of these gifts: Everyone needs the gift of Fortitude! If we are serious about being disciples of Jesus Christ and remaining in a state of grace, we will have to do heroic actions. It is the gift of Fortitude that will enable us to perform these heroic actions with a spirit of generosity.

How do I prepare myself to receive the gift of Fortitude?

This begins with a humble recognition of our weaknesses, because it is in acknowledging our weaknesses that we also acknowledge the strength that may be provided by the Lord. God wants to use our greatest weaknesses to reveal his greatest strength. For an example of this, look to the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Father was most powerful when Jesus was at his weakest point.

After that, it is principally in the reception of the Holy Eucharist – the Body and Blood of our Savior – that we can seek the necessary strength from Jesus in order to overcome all obstacles. The reception of the Eucharist brings the strength of Jesus into our bodies. St. John Chrysostom has this to offer concerning the reception of the Eucharist:

Let us return from that table as lions breathing fire, terrible to the devil.

Another great way to prepare to receive the gift of Fortitude: look for ways to use it. Examples: don’t complain about the weather, think before you speak, be attentive to daily prayer, be kind to those you don’t enjoy, don’t defend yourself when someone complains about you, strive to overcome your bodily passions. Do these things not once, but everyday.

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from you, my God and greatest good. Amen.

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