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.

Theophan the Recluse: Inner Peace Thursday, Oct 15 2009 

People concern themselves with Christian upbringing, but leave it incomplete. They neglect the most essential and most difficult side of the Christian life and dwell on what is easiest – the visible and external.

This imperfect and misdirected upbringing produces people who observe with the utmost correctness all the formal outward rules for devout conduct, but who pay little or no attention to the inward movements of the heart, and to true improvement of the inner spiritual life. They are strangers to mortal sin, but they do not heed the play of thoughts in the heart.

Accordingly, they sometimes pass judgments, give way to boastfulness or pride, sometimes get angry (as if this feeling were justified by the rightness of the cause), and are sometimes distracted by beauty and pleasure, sometimes even offending others in fits of irritation. Sometimes they are too lazy to pray, or lose themselves in useless thoughts while at prayer…

…Let us now take the case of one who has been falling somewhat short in the work of salvation. He or she becomes aware of this incompleteness and sees the incorrectness of their way of life, and the instability of his or her efforts. And so they turn from outward to inward piety.

They’re led either by reading books about spiritual life or by talking with those who know what the essence of Christian life is, by dissatisfaction of their own efforts, by a certain intuition that something is lacking and that all is not going as it should be.

Despite all of his correctness, he has no inner peace. He lacks what was promised true Christians – peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…. He comes to understand that the essence of the Christian life consists in establishing himself with the mind in the heart before God in the Lord Jesus Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In this way, he is enabled to control all inward movements and all outward actions so as to transform everything in himself whether great or small into the service of God and the Trinity, consciously and freely offering himself wholly to God.

Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894; Russian Orthodox); from the website of the All Saints of North America Russian Orthodox Church