The Gift of Knowledge
Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, teach me the nothingness of earthly things.
By the gifts of fear, fortitude, piety, and counsel, the Holy Spirit regulates our moral life; whereas by the other gifts—knowledge, understanding, and wisdom—He governs our theological life more directly, that is, our relations with God. The first four gifts perfect the moral virtues especially; the last three perfect the theological virtues. They are the so-called gifts of the contemplative life, that is, of the life of prayer and union with God.
In our ascent toward God, we find one great obstacle: creatures which impress and allure us by their attractions, tempting us to stop at them and thus drawing us away from God, the infinite good, who transcends human experience. It is not easy for us who live in the realm of sense to believe that God is all, that He is the only good, the only happiness, and to place our hope in Him alone, while He is veiled from sight. We find it difficult to believe that creatures are nothing, to be convinced of their vanity, while they present themselves to us so alluringly. It is true that faith comes to our aid, and in its light, we have often reflected on these truths, yet in practice, our reasonings have often failed. Confronted with the attractions of creatures, we forget and perhaps even betray our Creator. Therefore we need more powerful help, a divine light, which illumines from within, without the need of passing through our reasonings, so limited and rude: it is this light that the Holy Spirit infuses into our soul by means of the gift of knowledge. This gift does not make us reason on the vanity of things; but it gives us a living, concrete experience of them, an intuition so clear that it admits no doubt. Under the influence of this gift, Francis of Assisi suddenly left his merry companions to espouse Lady Poverty, and when his indignant father drove him out of his house, he exclaimed in the fervor of his spirit, “Henceforth I will not call Peter Bernardone my father, but our Father who is in heaven!” Under the impulse of this gift, Teresa of Avila wrote these words: “All things pass, God never changes. He who has God, finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices”; and the dying words of Blessed Maria Bertilla were: “One must work only for Jesus. All else is nothing.”
“My God, here on earth all is vanity. What can I seek and desire to find here below where nothing is pure? All is vain, uncertain, and deceptive, except to love You, O Lord, and do good works. But I cannot love You perfectly unless I despise myself and the world.
“O my soul, do not think it hard to leave your friends and acquaintances; they often stand in the way of divine consolations. Where are the companions with whom you played and laughed? I do not know; they went away and abandoned me. And where are the things you were interested in yesterday? They have vanished. Everything has gone. Then only he who serves You, O Lord, is wise because he despises the earthly life with all its charms.
“Keep me, O my God, from seeking the joys of the world. I conjure you, remove from my heart every attachment to earthly vanities. Lift me up to the height of the Cross; grant that I may follow You wherever You precede me. Poor and stripped of all, an exile on earth, and unknown, I willingly remain with You” (Thomas à Kempis).
“Remove from me, O my God, everything that leads me away from You; give me everything that will bring me nearer to You. Enrapture me, so that I will live wholly and always for You” (St. Nicholas of Flue).
“O Lord, grant that the sweet, burning power of Your love may draw my heart away from all earthly delights, so that I may die for love of You as You deigned to die for love of me” (St. Francis of Assisi).
Note from Dan: This post on the gift of knowledge is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on the gift of knowledge: Franciso resiste la tentación [Francis Resists Temptation], José Beniliure y Gil (1855-1937), undated, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.