The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part I)

Friends in Christ, today in Acts of the Apostles, it says that ‘when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them.’ The readings this week, the prayers in the Missal, are preparing us for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, 6 days away. Our Lord is preparing the Church to remain one with him, and to come alive by the Spirit.  
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The Holy Spirit works in us primarily by his 7 Gifts. The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. Tonight I thought we could consider the 3 intellectual gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. [i]
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These 3 intellectual Gifts obtain for us the equivalent of experiential knowledge. They acquaint us with things much higher than us, not through a process of reasoning, but by means of a higher light. We are thereby able to grasp things, almost as if we had experiential knowledge of them. This illumination gives us a sort of “intuition” or instinct about things.
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Francisca del Valle was only a poor dress-maker in the 1800’s. Yet this is what they say about her writings: ‘The intimate life in the Spirit is treated in her writings with such intelligence and subtlety, that they can be admired by the most learned theologians.’ (p. 9, About the Holy Spirit, del Valle.) This is said, yet she had no training in theology whatsoever. She was taught directly by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
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KNOWLEDGE is the Gift which helps us to see the events of our lives according to the plan of God, to know the right-use of created things in the spiritual life. This Gift of Knowledge allowed St. Francis to see every flower and insect as a testimony to God’s love. Knowledge allows us in a moment, to recognize what things will help us to find holiness;
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The Gift of UNDERSTANDING differs from that of Knowledge in that it is not limited to created things. Understanding allows us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths. It does not give us an understanding of the mysteries, but it gives us confidence in their truth. The Gift of Understanding allows us a sudden insight into a scripture passage, or gives us those ‘Aha!’ moments, and we grasp a spiritual truth.
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The Gift of WISDOM makes us love what God loves, and want what God wants. The influence of Wisdom directs our life only to God’s honor and glory. St. Bernard calls Wisdom, the knowledge that relishes the things of God. ‘We love what God loves, and want what God wants.’ We might know persons who are always trying to do God’s will, what He wants – they are basking in the Gift of Wisdom.
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As we wait for Pentecost, let us speak very much to this Good Holy Spirit, and ask him to increase his Gifts in us.

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[i] (see The Spiritual Life, by Tanquery, p. 624-629)

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