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.