Saint Thomas shows how each of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are linked to a particular virtue or virtues, and how this leads to one of the Beatitudes. St Thomas is showing us how to grow in virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong on their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.”
On a side note. Why is the Soul Institute necessary? There are many reasons. However, I just want to point out one reason. Why it is vital to have a relationship with God? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining salvation.’ Since without faith it is impossible to please God’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.'(CCC 161) It is also true that we need a map and direction that the Church and the saints have given us to obtain that holiness. Vatican II said there is a universal call to holiness. The purpose of the Soul Institute is give people that map on how to obtain the holiness they so eagerly desire.
Vatican I defined faith this way, ” It is a supernatural virtue by which, thanks to the movements and help of God’s grace, we believe what God reveals to be true, not because of it intrinsic truth is obvious under scrutiny according to the natural light of reason, but on the authority of God himself revealing. In virtue pf the divine and Catholic faith, all those things are to be believed with are contained on the word of God-either the written or the traditional word-and are proposed for belief by the Church.” When we call call faith a virtue. We are saying that it is human and a divine act. We have a part to play in creating a virtue in us. Therefore, we help create faith in us by exercising faith and confessing our faith. Faith is a lot like riding a bike. We don’t learn how to ride a bike by looking at the bike. You learn how to ride a bike by actually riding the bike. Same thing with faith. You grow in faith by first using your faith. Pascal say, “People said if I had faith I would give my life to God.” Which Pascal responded, “If you gave your life to God you would soon have faith.”
Father Jordan Auman OP in his book, ‘Spiritual Theology’ writes, “Faith is the foundation, inasmuch as all the other virtues, including charity, presuppose faith, and are established upon it as an edifice on it foundation. Without faith it is impossible to hope or to love. It is the root, because when vivified by charity, all the other virtues live. When animated by charity, faith produces, among other things, two great effects in the soul: the filial fear of God that helps the soul keep itself from sin, and the purification of the the heart that raises it to the heights and cleanses it of it affection for earthly things.”
The gift of understanding, “Is a supernatural habit, infused in the soul with sanctifying grace, by which the human intellect under the illuminating action of the Holy Spirit, is made apt for a penetrating intuition of revealed truths, and even for natural truths, so far as they are related to the supernatural end.” This means that we see new insights into scripture. We see deeper meaning into scripture. This gift also makes us see everything that happens to us through the prism of faith.
The gift of understanding. “Discloses the hidden meaning of Sacred Scripture. This is what the Lord effected in regard to the disciples at Emmaus when he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. (Lk 24:45) It reveals the mysterious significance of symbols and figures. Thus St Paul saw Christ in the rock that gushed forth with living water…’And the rock was Christ.'( 1 Cor 10:4) St Francis had this gift of understanding when he say all of creation as his brother and sister. He would call Fire ‘Brother fire’ and water ‘sister water.’ When we have the gift of understanding all of creation proclaims the Glory of God. “This gift reveals spiritual realities under sensible appearances. The liturgy of the Church is filled with sublime symbolism that for the most part escapes the notice of superficial soul. But the saints experienced a great veneration and respect for the slighest ceremony of the Church. This gift also gives one the ability after the long hours of mediation and study, everything is suddenly illuminated under an impulse of the Spirit. A word or a statement if than see in all of its depth and meaning. Lastly this gift, it makes is see cause through their effects…In a simple gaze and by a divine intuition the soul discovers the invisible hidden beneath the visible.”
The Gift of knowledge, ” The gift of knowledge is a supernatural habit through which the human intellect, under the action of the Holy Spirit, judges rightly concerning created things as related to eternal life and Christian perfection…Under the action of this gift the individual does not proceed by reasoning but judges rightly concerning all created things by a superior impulse and by a higher light than that of simple reason illuminated by faith….The effects of this gift are. It teaches us how to judge rightly concerning created things in relation to God.” The person with this gift will use money and food the way that God intended them to be used. This gift, “It guides is with certitude that which we must believe or not believe.” The person has an instinct whether something is accord with faith or is opposed to faith. This gift, “It enables is to see promptly and with certitude the sate of our soul. It inspires us concerning the best method of conduct with our neighbor as regards eternal life. This gift detaches us from the things of earth. This gift teaches us how to use created things in a holy way. Lastly this gift fills us with repentance and sorrow for our past errors.” With this gift what we once regarded as sinful pleasures now fill us with remorse and sorrow. But on the up side, this gift fills suffering with the greatest joy and consolation. Here is an example. Let say you drank a lot in college. Now you look back at that drinking with sorrow and sadness.
Father Jordan Aumann OP writes, “Such are the principal effects of gift of knowledge. Through it, far from seeing creatures as obstacles to union with God, the soul uses them as instruments to be united with God. Perfected by the gifts of understanding and knowledge the virtue of faith reaches its greatest intensity.”