Choose a topic from Part 2B:

8. The Gift of Understanding

1. Man has by nature a power to penetrate into the meaningof things and to grasp reality in its essence. This is the naturalpower of mind, intellect, understanding. But man needs more thannatural intellect to understand the end for which he exists and themeans of attaining it. For this, man requires the light of the giftof supernatural understanding.

2. The light of supernatural understanding does not impartscientific knowledge of divine things, so that man ceases to knowthem by faith. By the gift of supernatural understanding man knowsthe mysteries of the faith surely, but imperfectly. He sees thatthese mysteries involve no contradiction, and he assents to theirtruth on God's word; thus he holds these truths by faith.

3. The gift of understanding gives knowledge of the truthsof faith and also of things subordinate to faith, such as humanaction which springs from faith. Hence this gift is not purelyspeculative or theoretical; it is also practicalor directive.

4. Just as the gift of charity, which is the love, grace,and friendship of God, is found in all who are in the state ofsanctifying grace, so also is the gift of supernaturalunderstanding found in them.

5. And, without sanctifying grace, no one has the gift ofsupernatural understanding.

6. The gift of supernatural understanding gives to themind of man the light of faith. In this light, the gift of wisdomenables a person to judge rightly of divine things; the gift ofknowledge makes him capable of right judgment about created things;the gift of counsel equips him to apply the judgments of wisdom andknowledge in individual human acts.

7. The sixth beatitude, "Blessed are the clean ofheart, for theyshall see God," corresponds to the giftof supernatural understanding. For there is a special cleanness inthe mind and heart which, purged of evil phantasms, understands thetruths of faith. Such an understanding sees God in his creatures onearth, and will behold him hereafter in the heavenly vision.

8. The fruit of the Holy Ghost called faith, that is, thecertitude of faith, also corresponds to the gift of spiritualunderstanding.

"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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