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, knowledge, 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.”
Father Jordan Aumann OP in his book, ‘Spiritual Theology’ writes, “St Thomas begins his treatise on charity by stating that it is friendship between God and man. Like every friendship, it implies a mutual love based on the communication of some good, For that reason charity necessarily presuppose sanctifying grace, which makes us children of God and heirs of glory. By nature we are nothing more than servants of the Creator, but through grace and charity we become the children and friends of God. And if our servitude ennobles us so greatly, since to serve God is to reign, how much more are we elevated by the charity of God, which is ‘poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’ (Rom 5:5) Such is the lofty dignity of the Christian.”
Father Aumann OP goes on to say, “Charity can increase in this life because it is a movement towards God, our ultimate end, and so long as we are wayfarers in this life it is possible to approach more and more closely to the goal. This greater proximity is effected precisely through the increase in charity. Moreover, charity does not admit of any term or limit in this life; it can grow indefinitely….Like all the other habits, charity increases, not by the addition of one form to another form, but by a greater radication of the virtues in the subject. It cannot increase by addition because such an increase is not possible in qualitative things…Like all the other virtues, charity is not increased by any act whatever, but only by an act that is more intense than the habit as actually possessed here an how. If charity were increased by addition,than any act of charity, however weak and remiss, would increase charity. Thus, simply by the multiplication of many remiss acts, the thermometer of habitual charity would rise to a surprising degree and even surpass the charity of the saint…The true nature of the increase of charity is far different…It can only increase only by a more profound radication in the subject, and this is impossible without a more intense act.”
What the author is saying is that to grow in the virtue of charity we have to grow in the charity that we have in our individual acts. For example, we will grow in charity if we help a classmate with their studies and we are doing so with a lot of love in our heart. This act has more merit in God’s eyes than helping the same student many times but we did so with a more or less indifferent heart. St Therese tells us that God doesn’t look at the actions that we do. God look at the love that we have in our hearts. So St Therese could say to pick up a pencil with the love of God is very pleasing in God’s Eyes.
Father Aumann OP writes, “But how can one explain this phenomenon after these persons have performed so many good works for so many years in the Christian life? The theological explanation is simple: they have performed a great many good works, it is true; but they have performed them in a lukewarm manner and not in such a way that each new act is more fervent. Rather, each succeeding act is more remiss and more imperfect. They are lukewarm and imperfect as if they were at the very beginning of the path to holiness.” Again in simple terms. If a husband or wife wants to grow in holiness they need to grow in their love for each other each day. This is opposite of taking someone for granted. If a priest want to grow in holiness each time he celebrates mass he do so with more love than he did the previous day. (On a side note. This theology also helps explain our relationship to the Holy Spirit. If we receive the Holy Spirit at baptism. How can we receive more of him at Confirmation? The answer is that strictly speaking you can’t receive more of the Holy Spirit, but you can become more docile to the movements of the Holy Spirit in your life.)
Father Aumann OP writes about the gift of wisdom, “The gift of wisdom is a supernatural habit, inseparable from charity, by which we judge rightly concerning God and divine things through their ultimate and highest causes under a special instinct and movement of the Holy Spirit and makes us taste things by a certain connaturality…It is evident, therefore, that the knowledge given by the gift of wisdom is incomparably superior to all human sciences, even theology.For this reason a simple and uneducated soul lacking the theological knowledge acquired by study may sometimes possess, through the gift of wisdom, a more profound knowledge of divine things than an eminent theologian….The gifts of the Holy Spirit reach its highest perfection in the gift of wisdom. Souls that experience this will understand very well the meaning of the words: ‘Taste and see how good the Lord is.’ (Ps 34:9) They experience a divine delight that sometimes enables them to know something of the ineffable joy of eternal beatitude.” What St Thomas is saying is that with the gift of wisdom we experience the goodness of joy. In other words, experience is a higher form of knowing than just intellectual knowledge.
The following are the principal effects of the gift of wisdom, “It gives to the saints a divine sense by which they judge all things…One would say that the saints have completely lost the human manner of judgemnt and that it has been replaced by a divine instinct by which they judge all things. Second, it makes saints live the mysteries of the faith in an entirely divine manner. Third, it makes them live in union with the three divine Persons through an ineffable participation in their trinitarian life…the gift of wisdom penetrates the very life of the Trinity. Thus the soul sees things only from their highest and more divine cause. Fourth, it raises the virtue of charity to heroism. This is precisely the purpose of the gift of wisdom. Lastly, It gives to all the virtues their ultimate perfection and makes them truly divine. Perfected by the gift of wisdom, charity extends the divine influence to all the other virtues, because charity if the form of all the virtues. The whole supernatural organism experiences the divine influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All the Christian virtues acquire a godlike modality that admits of countless shades and manifestations. Having died definitively to self, being perfect in every type of virtue, reads the inscription written by St John of the Cross: ‘Here on this mountain dwell only the honor and glory of God.'”