Holy Spirit and the Gift of Counsel

Alfonso Carrasco Rouco, School of Theology at San Dámaso, Madrid

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In these days ZENIT will present texts from the June videoconference «Pneumatology from the Second Vatican Council to Our Times.»

The 11th such videoconference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy brought together noted theologians from around the world.

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Alfonso Carrasco Rouco
School of Theology «San Dámaso»

The gifts from the Holy Spirit are like dispositions in virtue of which a Christian becomes capable of moving under the inspiration, the impulse and the guide of the Spirit.

Thanks to these gifts a moral subject achieves his own and necessary form, not only because they perfect his different virtues, but also because, profoundly penetrating a person, they prepare him to receive a movement toward his ultimate goal that can only be self-generated, that is greater than all moral and theological virtues — although made more perfect by grace; a movement that can only originate in the superior movement of the Spirit.

Each Christian believer therefore receives the gifts of the Spirit, who bestows them forever, and the only condition is to be in a state of grace. In this manner, man is led to his possible perfection already in via, in daily life, and immediately afterward, to his perfection in «patria.»

Every second God moves his own way of being, he moves man as a rational and free creature. As such, his own acting consists in searching for rational understanding of what he must do; this is what traditionally is called advice (counsel), with which man orientates his own actions towards their goal.

The gift of counsel also perfects what is known as the moral virtue of prudence, which guides man, advising him to the extent that reason is capable of understanding things. Human reason in fact is unable to grasp the singularity and the contingency of beings and events; it needs therefore to be orientated by God’s counsel, to welcome his counsel, like those who accept advice from the wiser, because he knows all things.

The gifts of the Spirit presuppose that man is freely united with God, his ultimate goal, through the theological virtues, which are — in a certain sense — his roots. In this case, with the gift of counsel, reason is instructed by the Holy Spirit in regards to what it must do, prudence is carried to its maximum perfection, and actions are orientated to the ultimate objective of eternal life, moved and guided by the Love of the Spirit.

Hence man can face all things with confidence and creativity, overcoming anxiety and doubts, the characteristics of reason in this world in which he is unable to understand as he would like to all that is contingent, perceiving new criteria of judgment and measure, that go beyond the criteria of prudence, heroic as this may be.

If human reason already naturally searches for the counsel of those who are wiser, the gift from the Spirit, putting into movement the believer in a particular manner in real historical circumstances, not only does makes him capable of turning to himself in a particularly free manner, but converts him within the world into a witness of life according to the Spirit, making him also capable of moving others: «mens humana ex hoc ipso quod dirigitur a Spiritu Sancto, fit potens dirigere se et alios.»

On the other hand, the gift of counsel is especially characterized by its relation with mercy, the greater use of which permits man to order his actions toward the authentic goal cannot be understood without the help of the Holy Spirit. Furthemore, with his counsel, man discovers to what extent it is the only remedy for his path in the real circumstances of the world and of history. For this reason the gift of counsel is traditionally associated to the beatitude of mercy.

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