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14. Counsel

1. Counsel is the studious inquiry of the mind into the object proposed for choice. The mind thinks things over, and offers its recommendations to the will. The mind or intellect thus takes counsel within itself, and offers its advice or counsel to the will. To illustrate: a man suffering a malady ponders his suitable course of action; he asks himself whether he had not better go at once to a hospital for surgery; he considers expense, and dependants, and his job and whether he could retain it through along absence; he considers the possibility of deferring radical treatment and of getting on for a time with palliative medicines; he considers danger both in the surgery and in delay in undergoing surgery. These and other matters are pondered by the mind before the will decides. And this pondering and judging is counsel.

2. Counsel, like choice, has to do with means. It is the mind's judgment on the suitability of means to an end.

3. St. Gregory of Nyssa says that we take counsel about things that are within the range of what we can do. Counsel looks on to the act of free choice. It concerns doing, not being; it looks to action, not to facts or truths; it weighs facts and truths with a view to action.

4. Counsel is not concerned with trifles; man does not truly take counsel about slight or insignificant action, but about things of weight and importance. Nor is there any place for counsel about a thing to be done if the thing belongs to the established order of science or art, for science and art have their changeless principles. Counsel has place in the more notable instances of free human conduct, and seeks to know the best mode of procedure.

5. Counsel is a kind of analysis of a situation. It takes into view an end intended, and judges what is here and now to be done as steps or means to that end.

6. And counsel does not result in a diffuse or general recommendation, nor a recommendation of countless steps towards an end. Counsel is definite and precise in its judgments and recommendations.

"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."
Thomas á Kempis

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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."
St Philip Neri

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"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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