What is Counsel?
That was the theme of the Holy Father’s catechesis today, in his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Counsel, Pope Francis taught, is that gift by which the Holy Spirit enables us to make concrete decisions according to the logic of Jesus and the Gospel.
Vatican Information Service has the report:
The Holy Spirit “helps us to grow positively both inwardly and in the community, and helps us not to fall prey to selfishness or to our way of seeing things”. “The essential condition for conserving this gift is prayer”, said the Holy Father, explaining that “we can all say the prayers we learnt as children, but we can also approach God in our own words: Lord, help me, advise me. What should I do now? And with prayer, we make space for the Holy Spirit to come and help us in this moment, to advise us on what we should do. We must never forget to pray. No-one knows if we pray on the bus or walking along the street: we can pray in silence. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray … so that the Holy Spirit may grant us the gift of counsel”.
In our intimacy with God, and listening His Word, we gradually leave aside our personal logic … and within us there matures a profound harmony with the Lord which leads us, in turn, to ask ourselves what His will is. It is the Spirit who advises us, but we must make space for this to happen. It is necessary to give space and pray to so that [the Holy Spirit] may always help us”.
And, like the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, counsel is “a treasure for the entire Christian community”, since the Lord does not speak to us only in the intimacy of the heart, but also through the voice and the witness of our brothers … who help us to shed light on our lives and to recognise the Lord’s will”. In this respect, Francis mentioned that once, in the Argentine diocese of Lujan, a young man with “tattoos and earrings and all those things” recounted a very serious situation to him in confession, and said that his mother had advised him to turn to the Virgin Mary. “She was a woman with the gift of counsel. This mother did not know how to solve her son’s problem but she indicated a sure path to him. … And effectively the boy said to me that: ‘I looked to Our Lady and I felt that I should do this, this and this…’. And I didn’t have to speak”, he recalled, “as the mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You, mothers who have this gift, ask for it for your children. Being able to give advice to one’s children is a gift from God”.
The Holy Father concluded by citing Psalm 16, which says: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken”. “May the Spirit always instil in our hearts that certainty, and in this way fill us with peace, and may we always ask for the gift of counsel!”.
And just a refresher, for those who are being confirmed this year or for those who want to know more: The Church names seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
They each, Fr. William Most explains, perfect certain basic virtues. Four of them perfect the intellectual virtues. Understanding gives an intuitive penetration into truth. Wisdom perfects charity, in order to judge divine things. Knowledge perfects the virtue of hope. The gift of Counsel perfects prudence.
The other three gifts perfect virtues of the will and appetites. The gift of Piety perfects justice in giving to others that which is their due. This is especially true of giving God what is His due. Fortitude perfects the virtue of fortitude, in facing dangers. Fear of the Lord perfects temperance in controlling disordered appetites.