R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (7) – Wisdom Sunday, Aug 15 2010 

The gift of wisdom is finally, according to the enumeration of Isaias, the highest of all, as charity, to which it corresponds, is the loftiest of the virtues. Wisdom appears eminently in St. John, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas.

It leads them to judge all things by relation to God, the first Cause and last End, and to judge them thus, not as acquired theology does, but by that connaturalness or sympathy with divine things which comes from charity.

By His inspiration, the Holy Ghost makes use of this connaturalness to show us the beauty, the sanctity, and the radiating plenitude of the mysteries of salvation, which correspond so well to our deepest and highest aspirations.(22)

[…] The gift of wisdom, the principle of a living contemplation that directs action, enables the soul to taste the goodness of God, to see it manifested in all events, even in the most painful, since God permits evil only for a higher good, which we shall see later and which it is sometimes given us to glimpse on earth.

The gift of wisdom thus makes us judge everything in relation to God; it shows the subordination of causes and ends or, as they say today, the scale of values.

It reminds us that all that glitters is not gold and that, on the contrary, marvels of grace are to be found under the humblest exteriors, as in the person of St. Benedict Joseph Labre or Blessed Anna Maria Taigi.

This gift enables the saints to embrace the plan of Providence with a gaze entirely penetrated with love; darkness does not disconcert them for they discover in it the hidden God.

As the bee knows how to find honey in flowers, the gift of wisdom draws lessons of divine goodness from everything.

Wisdom reminds us, as Cardinal Newman says, that: “A thousand difficulties do not make a doubt” so long as they do not impair the very basis of certitude.

Thus many difficulties which subsist in the interpretation of several books of the Old Testament or of the Apocalypse do not make a doubt as to the divine origin of the religion of Israel or of Christianity.

The gift of wisdom thus gives the supernaturalized soul great peace, that is the tranquillity of the order of things considered from God’s point of view.

Thereby this gift, says St. Augustine, corresponds to the beatitude of the peacemakers, that is to say, of those who remain in peace when many are troubled and who are capable of bringing peace to the discouraged. This is one of the signs of the unitive life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

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R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (6) – Understanding Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

As the gift of counsel is given to us to direct our conduct by supplying for the imperfection of prudence, which would often remain hesitant, we need a superior gift to supply for the imperfection of faith.

This virtue attains the mysteries of the inner life of God only by the intermediary of abstract and multiple formulas which we should like to be able to sum up in a single one that would express more exactly what the living God is for us.

Here the gift of understanding comes to our assistance by a certain interior light that makes us penetrate the mysteries of salvation and anticipate all their grandeur.

Without this light, it happens often that we hear sermons, read spiritual books, and yet remain in ignorance of the deep meaning of these mysteries of life.

They remain like sacred formulas preserved in the memory, but their truth does not touch our soul; it is pale and lusterless, like a star lost in the depths of the heavens.

And because we are not sufficiently nourished with these divine truths, we are more or less seduced by the maxims of the world.

On the contrary, a simple soul prostrate before God, will understand the mysteries of the Incarnation, the redemption, the Eucharist, not to explain them, to discuss them, but to live by them.

It is the Holy Ghost who gives this penetrating and experimental knowledge of the truths of faith which enables the soul to glimpse the sublime beauty of Christ’s sermons.

It is He also who gives souls the profound understanding of their vocation and preserves them in this regard from every failure in judgment.

The gift of understanding cannot exist in a high degree without great purity of heart, of intention; it corresponds, according to St. Augustine, to the beatitude: “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God”.

Even here on earth they begin to glimpse Him in the words of Scripture, which at times are illumined for them as if underscored by a line of light.

St. Catherine of Siena and St. John of the Cross excel in this understanding of the mysteries of salvation that they may make us comprehend the plenitude of life contained in them.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (5) – Counsel Thursday, Aug 12 2010 

In difficult circumstances, in which the lofty acts of the gift of fortitude are exercised, we must avoid the danger of temerity which distinguishes fanatics.

To avoid this danger, we need a higher gift, that of counsel.

The gift of counsel supplies for the imperfection of the virtue of prudence, when prudence hesitates and does not know what decision to make in certain difficulties, in the presence of certain adversaries.

Must we still preserve patience, show meekness, or, on the contrary, give evidence of firmness? And, in dealing with clever people, how can we harmonize “the simplicity of the dove and the prudence of the serpent”?

In these difficulties, we must have recourse to the Holy Ghost who dwells in us.

He will certainly not turn us away from seeking counsel from our superiors, our confessor, or director; on the contrary, He will move us to do so, and then He will fortify us against rash impulsiveness and pusillanimity.

He will make us understand also what a superior and a director would be incapable of telling us, especially the harmonizing of seemingly contradictory virtues: prudence and simplicity, fortitude and meekness, frankness and reserve.

The Holy Ghost makes us understand that we should not say something that is more or less contrary to charity; if, in spite of His warning, we do so, not infrequently it produces disorder, irritation, great loss of time, to the detriment of the peace of souls. All of this might easily have been avoided.

The enemy of souls, on the contrary, exerts himself to sow cockle, to cause confusion, to transform a grain of sand into a mountain; he makes use of petty, almost imperceptible trifles, but he achieves results with them as a person does who puts a tiny obstacle in the movement of a watch in order to stop it.

Sometimes it is these trifles that arrest progress on the way of perfection; the soul is held captive by inferior things as by a thread which it has not the courage to break: for example, by a certain habit contrary to recollection or humility, to the respect due to other souls, which are also the temples of the Holy Ghost.

All these obstacles are removed by the inspirations of the gift of counsel, which corresponds to the beatitude of the merciful. These last are, in fact, good counselors who forget themselves that they may encourage the afflicted and sinners.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (4) – Fortitude Tuesday, Aug 10 2010 

Above the gift of knowledge, according to the enumeration of Isaias, comes the gift of fortitude.

Why does the prophet place fortitude above knowledge? Because to be able to discern good and evil is not sufficient.

We need strength to avoid the one and practice the other perseveringly without ever becoming discouraged.

We must undertake a war against the flesh, the spirit of the world, and the spirit of evil, which is at times exceedingly afflictive.

We have powerful, subtle, perfidious enemies. Shall we let ourselves be intimidated by certain worldly smiles, by a thoughtless speech?

If we yield on this point, we shall fall into the snares of him who wishes our damnation and who struggles so much the more desperately against us as our vocation is higher.

The gift of fortitude strengthens our courage in danger, and comes to the help of our patience in long trials.

It is this gift that sustained the martyrs, that gave invincible constancy to children, to Christian virgins, like Agnes and Cecilia, to St. Joan of Arc in her prison and on her pyre.

It corresponds, says St. Augustine, to the beatitude of those who hunger and thirst after justice in spite of all contradictions, of those who preserve a holy enthusiasm that is not only sensible, but spiritual and supernatural, even in the midst of persecution.

It gave the martyrs of the early Church a holy joy in their torments.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (3) – Knowledge Saturday, Jul 31 2010 

To have a solid piety that avoids illusion and dominates the imagination and sentimentalism, the Holy Ghost must give us the higher gift of knowledge.

The gift of knowledge renders us docile to inspirations superior to human knowledge and even to reasoned theology.

We are here concerned with a supernatural feeling that makes us judge rightly of human things, either as symbols of divine things, or in their opposition to the latter.

It shows us vividly the vanity of all passing things, of honors, titles, the praises of men; it makes us see especially the infinite gravity of mortal sin as an offense against God and a disease of the soul.

[…] By showing the infinite gravity of mortal sin, it produces not only fear but horror of sin and a great sorrow for having offended God.

It gives the true knowledge of good and evil, and not that which the devil promised to Adam and Eve when he said to them: “In what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil”.

As a matter of fact, they had the bitter knowledge or experience of evil committed, of proud disobedience, and of its results.

The Holy Ghost, on the other hand, promises the true knowledge of good and evil; if we follow Him, we shall be in a sense like God, who knows evil to detest it and good to realize it.

Only too often human knowledge produces presumption; the gift of knowledge, on the contrary, strengthens hope because it shows us that every human help is fragile as a reed;

it makes us see the nothingness of earthly goods and leads us to desire heaven, putting all our confidence in God.

As St. Augustine says, it corresponds to the beatitude of the tears of contrition. Blessed are they who know the emptiness of human things, especially the gravity of sin;

blessed are they who weep for their sins, who have true compunction of heart, of which The Imitation often speaks.

By this gift we find the happy mean between a discouraging pessimism and an optimism made up of levity and vanity.

Precious was the knowledge of the saints possessed by all great apostles: St. Dominic, for example, often wept on seeing the state of certain souls to which he brought the word of God.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2) – Piety Friday, Jul 30 2010 

Fear has a negative element, making us flee from sin; but the soul needs a more filial attitude toward God.

The gift of piety inspires us precisely with a wholly filial affection for our Father in heaven, for Christ our Savior, for our Mother, the Blessed Virgin, for our holy protectors.

This gift supplies for the imperfection of the virtue of religion, which renders to God the worship due Him, in the discursive manner of human reason illumined by faith.

There is no spiritual impulse and no lasting fervor without the gift of piety, which hinders us from becoming attached to sensible consolations in prayer and makes us draw profit from dryness, aridities, which are intended to render us more disinterested and spiritual.

St. Paul writes to the Romans: You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father)…

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groaning.

By this gift we find a supernatural sweetness even in our interior sufferings;

it is particularly manifest in the prayer of quiet, in which the will is captivated by the attraction of God, although the intellect often has to struggle against distractions.

By its sweetness this gift makes us resemble Christ, who was meek and humble of heart.

Its fruit, according to St. Augustine, is the beatitude of the meek, who shall possess the land of heaven.

St. Bernard and St. Francis de Sales excelled in the gift of piety.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1) – Fear Wednesday, Jul 28 2010 

The gift of fear is the first manifestation of the influence of the Holy Ghost in a soul that leaves off sin and is converted to God.

It supplies for the imperfection of the virtues of temperance and of chastity; it helps us to struggle against the fascination of forbidden pleasures and against the impulses of the heart.

This holy fear of God is the inverse of worldly fear, often called human respect. It is superior also to servile fear which; although it has a salutary effect on the sinner, has not the dignity of a gift of the Holy Ghost.

Servile fear is that which trembles at the punishments of God; it diminishes with charity, which makes us consider God rather as a loving Father than as a judge to be feared.

Filial fear, or the gift of fear, dreads sin especially, more than the punishments due it. It makes us tremble with a holy respect before the majesty of God.

At times the soul experiences this holy fear of offending God; occasionally the experience is so vivid that no meditation, no reading, could produce a like sentiment.

It is the Holy Ghost who touches the soul. This holy fear of sin is “the beginning of wisdom”,  for it leads us to obey the divine law in everything, which is wisdom itself.

Filial fear increases with charity, like the horror of sin; in heaven, though the saints no longer have the fear of offending God, they still have the reverential fear which makes the angels themselves tremble before the infinite majesty of God, “tremunt potestates”, in the words of the preface of the Mass.

This fear was even in the soul of Christ and still remains there.

This fear of sin, which inspired the great mortifications of the saints, corresponds to the beatitude of the poor:

Blessed are they who through fear of the Lord detach their hearts from the pleasures of the world, from honors; in their poverty they are supernaturally rich, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: To Hear The Divine Inspirations We Must Create Silence In Ourselves; To Be Docile To The Holy Ghost, We Must First Hear His Voice. Saturday, May 22 2010 

To be docile to the Holy Ghost, we must first hear His voice.

To do so, recollection, detachment from the world and from self are necessary, as are the custody of the heart, the mortification of self-will, and personal judgment.

If silence does not reign in our soul, if the voice of excessively human affections troubles it, we cannot of a certainty hear the inspirations of the interior Master.

For this reason the Lord subjects our sensible appetites to severe trials and in a way crucifies them that they may eventually become silent or fully submissive to our will animated by charity.

If we are ordinarily preoccupied with ourselves, we shall certainly hear ourselves or perhaps a more perfidious, more dangerous voice which seeks to lead us astray.

Consequently our Lord invites us to die to ourselves like the grain of wheat placed in the ground.

To hear the divine inspirations, we must, therefore, create silence in ourselves; but even then the voice of the Holy Ghost remains mysterious.

As Christ says: “The Spirit breathes where He will; and you hear His voice, but you do not know whence He comes and whither He goes. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit”.

Mysterious words, which should make us prudent and reserved in our judgments about our neighbor, attentive to the attractions placed in us by the Lord, which are the mixed seed of a future known to divine Providence.

They are attractions toward renunciation, toward interior prayer; they are more precious than we think.

Some intellectuals from an early age have an attraction to silent mental prayer, which alone perhaps will preserve them from spiritual pride, from dryness of heart, and will make their souls childlike, such as they must be to enter the kingdom of God, and especially the intimacy of the kingdom.

A vocation to a definite religious order may often be recognized by these early attractions.

The voice of the Holy Ghost begins, therefore, by an instinct, an obscure illumination, and if one perseveres in humility and conformity to the will of God, this instinct manifests its divine origin clearly to the conscience while remaining mysterious.

The first gleams will become so many lights which, like the stars, will illumine the night of our pilgrimage toward eternity.

The dark night will thus become luminous and like the aurora of the life of heaven, “and night shall be my light in my pleasures”.

To succeed in being docile to the Holy Ghost, we need, therefore, interior silence, habitual recollection, attention, and fidelity.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: The Persons of the Trinity Dwell in the Soul (2) Friday, Dec 11 2009 

This testimony of our Savior is clear, and it states exactly and in an admirable manner what we read in the Book of Wisdom (1:4). It is indeed the three divine persons who come and dwell in the souls of the just.

Thus the apostles understood it. St. John writes: “God is charity: and he that abides in charity, abides in God, and God in him”.

He possesses God in his heart; but still more God possesses him and holds him, preserving not only his natural existence, but the life of grace and charity in him.

St. Paul speaks in like manner: “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us”.

We have received not only created charity, but the Holy Ghost Himself who has been given to us. St. Paul speaks of Him especially, because charity likens us more to the Holy Ghost, who is personal love, than to the Father and to the Son.

They are also in us, according to the testimony of Christ, but we will be made perfectly like Them only when we receive the light of glory, which will imprint in us the resemblance to the Word, who is the splendor of the Father.

On several different occasions St. Paul refers to this consoling doctrine: “Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

“Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body”.

Scripture thus teaches explicitly that the three divine persons dwell in every just soul, in every soul in the state of grace.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: The Persons of the Trinity Dwell in the Soul (1) Friday, Dec 11 2009 

Holy Scripture does not, however, speak only of this general presence of God in all things; it also speaks of a special presence of God in the just.

We read, in fact, even in the Old Testament: “Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins”.

Would only created grace or the created gift of wisdom dwell in the just soul? Christ’s words bring us a new light and show us that it is the divine persons Themselves who come and dwell in us: “If anyone love Me”, He says, “he will keep My word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him”.

These words should be noted: “We will come”. Who will come? Would it be only created effects: sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, the gifts?

No indeed. Those who come are Those who love: the divine persons, the Father and the Son, from whom the Holy Ghost is never separated, that Spirit of Love promised, moreover, by our Lord and visibly sent on Pentecost.

“We will come to him”, to the just soul who loves God, and “We will come” not only in a transitory, passing manner, but “We will make our abode with him”, that is to say, We will dwell in him as long as he remains just, or in the state of grace, as long as he preserves charity. Such were our Lord’s own words.

These words are confirmed by those that promise the Holy Ghost: “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it sees Him not, nor knows Him.

“But you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you….

“He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you”.

These words were not only addressed to the apostles; they were verified in them on Pentecost, which is renewed for us by confirmation.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life


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