On the Gift of Counsel

«We must make room for the Spirit, so that he can counsel us.»

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Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address at the General Audience this morning in Saint Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the reading of the Book of Psalms we heard the passage that says: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7). And this is another gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of counsel. We know how important it is, in the most delicate moments, to be able to count on the suggestions of wise persons who love us. Now, through the gift of counsel, it is God Himself, with his Spirit, who illumines our heart, to make us understand the right way to speak and to behave and the way to follow. But, how does this gift act in us?

The moment we receive Him and host him in our heart, the Holy Spirit begins immediately to make us sensitive to his voice and to direct our thoughts, our sentiments and our intentions according to God’s heart. At the same time, he leads us increasingly to turn our interior gaze on Jesus, as model of our way of acting and of relating to God the Father and to our brothers. Counsel, therefore, is the gift with which the Holy Spirit renders our conscience capable of making a concrete choice in communion with God, according to the logic of Jesus and of his Gospel. In this way, the Spirit makes us grow interiorly, he makes us grow positively, he makes us grow in the community and helps us not to fall prey to egoism or our own way of seeing things. Thus the Spirit helps us to grow and also to live in community. The essential condition to preserve this gift is prayer. We always come back to the same subject: prayer! But prayer is so important. To pray with the prayers that we all know from childhood, but also to pray with our own words. To pray to the Lord: “Lord, help me, counsel me, what must I do now?” And with prayer we make room for the Spirit to come to help us at that moment. To counsel us on what we must all do. Prayer, never forget prayer! Never! No one, no one is aware when we pray in the bus, in the street: we pray in silence with our heart. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray, to pray that the Spirit will give us this gift of counsel.

In intimacy with God and in listening to his Word, little by little we put aside our personal logic, dictated most often by our closures, our prejudices and our ambitions, and we learn instead to ask the Lord: what is your desire? What is your will? What pleases you? In this way, a profound attunement matures in us, almost innate in the Spirit and we experience how true Jesus’ words are reported in Matthew’s Gospel: “When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

It is the Spirit who counsels us, but we must make room for the Spirit, so that he can counsel us. And to make room is to pray, to pray so that He will come and help us always.

As all the other gifts of the Spirit, then, counsel also constitutes a treasure for the whole Christian community. The Lord does not speak to us only in the depth of our heart; He speaks to us, yes, but not only there, but He also speaks to us through the voice and witness of brothers. It is truly a great gift to be able to meet men and women of faith that, especially in the most complicated and important moments of our life, help us to enlighten our heart and recognize the will of the Lord!

I remember once I was in a confessional in the shrine of Lujan, in front of which there was a long queue. There was also a very young altogether modern fellow with ear-rings, tattoos, all these things … And he came to tell me what was happening to him. It was a big, difficult problem. And he said to me; I have said all this to my mother and my mother said: go to Our Lady and she will tell you what to do. There was a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to resolve her son’s problem, but she pointed out the right way: go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman gave her son the truest counsel. In fact, this boy said to me: I looked at Our Lady and I felt I had to do this, and this and this …. I did not have to speak, his mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You, mothers, who have this gift, ask it for your children. The gift to counsel children is a gift of God.

Dear friends, Psalm 16, which we heard, invites us to pray with these words: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (vv. 7-8). May the Spirit always be able to infuse this certainty in our heart and thus fill us with his consolation and his peace! Ask always for the gift of counsel.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]


Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catecheses on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we now turn to the gift of counsel. Through this gift, God enlightens our hearts and directs our thoughts, words and actions in accordance with his saving will. By leading us to Jesus, and through him to the Father, the Holy Spirit guides us in our daily interaction with others and enables us to make right decisions in the light of faith. Through the gift of counsel, we also grow in the virtue of prudence, learning to overcome our self-centredness and to see all things with the eyes of Christ. The gift of counsel, like all spiritual gifts, needs to be cultivated through prayer, by which we become attuned to the voice of the Spirit and conformed to the heart of Christ. Nor does this gift enrich us as individuals alone; the Spirit also counsels us through the lives and experiences of our brothers and sisters in the Church. Today, as we give thanks for the gift of counsel, let us seek to support one another along the path of faith, as we seek to be ever more docile to the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Korea, the Philippines, China, India, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen lord. God bless you all!


Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims, welcome! I am happy to receive the pilgrimage organized by the Vocational Fathers for the centenary of the Priestly Ordination of the Founder; the faithful of the Archdiocese of Pisa and the Mater Misericordiae Institute, which will hold its General Chapter. I greet the women religious nurses of different Congregations; the pilgrims and the sick of the Marian Congregation of the Houses of Charity; the detainees of Viterbo, the Red Cross volunteers on the 150th anniversary of their foundation; the Don Guanella Work of Naples on its 50th anniversary; and the families of the youngsters of San Patrignano, whom I join in saying no to every type of drug.

And, perhaps, it would be good if all said this simply: no to every type of drug! In addition, I greet the Confcommercio Ascom Group of Padua and encourage them at this time of economic difficulty. May the economic difficulty not take your life away! May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles increase in all the paschal joy of the Resurrection, which is manifested also in concrete works of charity.

Tomorrow the Church will raise the prayer of “Supplication” to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. The Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, will go to that shrine; I invite all to invoke the intercession of Mary, so that the Lord will grant mercy and peace to the Church and to the whole world.

I entrust to our
Mother in particular the young people, the sick and the newlyweds who are present here today, and I exhort all to value in this month of May the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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