On the Gift of Understanding

Friends in Christ, we read today of Anna, the Prophetess who was night and day praying in the temple. She was granted, along with Simeon, a great gift: the ability to identify the Redeemer when he came.
St. John today, writes of those living in Christ, who have an ability to know God.
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Essential to this is the supernatural Gift called Understanding. This is one of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that man has by nature a power to penetrate into the meaning of things. This is the natural power of the mind. But one needs more than natural intellect to understand the purpose for which he exists, and the means of achieving heaven. For this one requires the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit called Understanding.      
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Though Faith is still necessary in this life, the Gift of Understanding allows one to know the mysteries of Faith more surely. Understanding permits the mind with ease, to grasp teachings of the Faith, and have an instinct for Faith.      
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Even those who are not very bright in the natural realm, by the Gift of Understanding, are instructed in those things necessary for salvation. With regard to those things necessary for salvation, the Gift of Understanding never withdraws from a holy person, but in order to prevent pride, it may withdraw sometimes with regard to other things, so that the mind is unable to penetrate all things clearly.
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This Gift is not our doing, it is infused into our soul at Baptism, it comes alive when acted upon, and remains as long as we are in the state of grace. Without the state of grace, no one has this Gift. If lost, it is recovered when mortal sins are confessed and the state of grace is regained.    
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The opposing vice, St. Thomas calls ‘dullness of mind,’ and here a person, in regard to heavenly things, requires many explanations and still has difficulty arriving at the truth of the thing. Dullness of mind denotes a certain weakness of the mind regarding spiritual goods.
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St. John warns us not to love worldly things; the world is full of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. To follow these ways leads to dullness of mind.
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St. Thomas says that the Gift of Understanding corresponds to the 6th Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
By Christ’s coming into the world, the Lord enables us to participate in the Divine Life, and prepare for union with God in the world to come. The Gift of Understanding really helps us on the way there.

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