Father Stefan working on Homily for Next Sunday July 30 ‘Gift of Understanding’

We read in the first reading ‘The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said. ‘Ask something of me and I will give it to you.’ Give your servant, therefore, an Understanding Heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.’

Jesus says ‘Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be give to you.’

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.”

Father Bransfield writes in his book, ‘The Human Person’ about the Holy Spirit gift of understanding, ” Inspired by hope, we approach life with an inbred simplicity. We navigate relationships under the influence of piety so that we abide by unaffected justice, which results in greater openness to the other. All this leads us to an authentic knowledge that prompts the virtue of faith. Then we spontaneously exude a genuine sense of balanced urgency that the things of God guide the world more and more. We are developing courage to make known our pressing concern in places and situations that are less than welcoming to the word of God. Under the impulse of prudence to daily life situations. Doing so, we are always aware that mercy embraces all-no situation can have too much mercy. As such, our faith is deepened even further by the gift of understanding…We listen spontaneously for the voice of God that leads to salvation, discerning it carefully. Mediation in the mysteries of Christ in the Scripture helps us to sense God’s ways in daily life.” Antonio Royo Marin OP in his book, ‘The Great Unknown The Holy Spirit and His Gifts’ writes, ” The gift of understanding-like that of knowledge…perfect the theological virtue of faith. The gift of understanding is a supernatural habit…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 of natural truths, so far as they are related to the supernatural end.”

Father Marin writes about the virtue of faith, “When one has reached pure faith that is repeatedly recommended by St John of the Cross as the only means proportionate for the union of our intellect with God. St John of the Cross says, ‘By pure faith is meant the adherence of the intellect to revealed truth, as adherence that is based solely on the authority of God revealing it. It exclude all discurus from the moment that reason enter into play, pure faith disappears, because it is mixed with an element that is alien to it nature. Reasoning can precede or follow faith, but it cannot accompany it with denaturalizing it. The more there is of discurus, the less there is of adherence to the truth by the authority of God and, consequently, the less there is of pure faith’…One can see that , perfected by this gift of understanding, the virtue of faith reaches an astounding intensity. The veils of mystery are never parted in this life ‘we can now through a glass in a dark manner.’ (1 Cor 13:12) But it unfathomable depths are penetrated by the soul with an experience that is so clear and deep that it approaches the intuitive vision. St Thomas, a model of serenity and reserve in all his statement writes, ‘In this very life, when the eye of the spirit is purified by the gift of understanding, one can in a certain sense see God.’…These souls seem to lose human instinct and to be guided entirely by the divine instinct…As Roman says, ‘The just man lives by faith.'(Rom 1:17)”

Luis Martinez in his book, ‘True Devotion To The Holy Spirit’ writes, ” Let us turn to St Thomas, who assures us that, in the natural order, there are movements of God similar to the movements of the Holy Spirit in the supernatural; the truly inspired artist, in the moment of his inspiration, is moved by God and receives some wonderful intuitions. Even more do the gifts of the Holy Spirit makes these profound intuitions possible in the supernatural order. The soul that is under the power of the gifts does not analyze or reason but sees. In a flash, in one single vision, it beholds marvelous things. What reason and the reading of erudite works cannot teach.” An example of this is when St Thomas had a profound experience of God. He threw all his writing into the fire and said, ‘Compare to God all that I have written is mere straw.”

Raniero Cantalamessa in his book, ‘Beatitudes Eight Steps To Happiness’ tells us about the beatitude ‘Blessed are the pure.’ He writes, ” The deciding factor here about purity or impurity of heart is intention. Augustine says, ‘All our works are pure and well pleasing in the sight of God, when they are done…with a heavenly intent, having that end of love in view…It is not therefore, what one does, but the intent with which he does it, that is to be considered.’…The mystical interpretation, promoted by Gregory of Nyssa, interprets the beatitude in terms of contemplation. Everyone must purify his or her heart from every tie with the world and with evil. In so doing a person’s heart will become pure and clear image of God that it was at the beginning, and within his or her soul, as in a mirror, human being will be able to ‘see God’” ‘If…you wash off by a good life the filth that has been stuck on your heart like plaster. The Divine Beauty will again shine forth in you…Hence,if a man who is pure in heart see himself, he sees in himself what he desires; and thus becomes blessed.” The author Jacques Philippe tells us we will become holy twice as fast by purifying our hearts than by fighting sin.

let us listen to what a person looks like who is moved by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. St Bonaventure described St Francis this way, “The Spirit of the Lord who had anointed and sent him and also Christ, the power and the wisdom of God, were with their servant Francis wherever he went so that he might abound with words of sound teaching and shine with miracles of great power. For his word was like a burning fire penetrating the innermost depths of the heart; and it filled the minds of all with admiration, since it made no pretense at the elegance of human composition but exuded the perfume of divine revelation.”


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