Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis given at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square. He began today a new series of catechesis, taking up the theme of the Holy Spirit.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We begin today a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know that the Holy Spirit constitutes the soul, the vital lymph of the Church and of every individual Christian: He is the Love of God who makes our heart His dwelling and enters into communion with us. The Holy Spirit is always with us, in us, in our heart.
The Spirit himself is “the gift of God” par excellence (cf. John 4:10), He is a gift of God who in turn communicates different spiritual gifts to one who receives Him. The Church singles out seven, a number which symbolically means fullness, completeness; they are those that are learned when we prepare ourselves for the Sacrament of Confirmation and which we invoke in the ancient prayer called the Sequence of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
1. According to this list, the first gift of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, wisdom. However, it is not simply about human wisdom, which is the fruit of knowledge and experience. The Bible recounts that Solomon, at the moment of his crowning as King of Israel, asked for the gift of wisdom (cf. 1 Kings 3:9). And wisdom in fact is this: It is the grace to be able to see everything with the eyes of God. It is simply this: to see the world, to see situations, circumstances, problems, everything with God’s eyes. This is wisdom. Sometimes we see things according to how they please us or according to the situation of our heart, with love or with hatred, with envy … No, this is not God’s eye. Wisdom is what the Holy Spirit does in us so that we see all things with God’s eyes. This is the gift of wisdom.
2. And this obviously stems from intimacy with God, from the intimate relationship that we have with God, from the relationship of children with the Father. When we have this relationship, the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of wisdom. When we are in communion with the Lord, it is as if the Holy Spirit transfigures our heart and makes it perceive all His warmth and predilection.
3. Then the Holy Spirit renders the Christian “wise.” This, however, not in the sense that he has an answer for everything, that he knows everything, but in the sense that he “knows” of God, he knows how God acts, he knows when something is of God and when it is not of God; he has this wisdom which God gives to our hearts. In this sense, the heart of the wise man has the taste and flavor of God. And how important it is that such Christians be in our communities! Everything in them speaks of God and becomes a beautiful and living sign of His presence and His love. And this is something we cannot improvise, which we cannot acquire by ourselves: It is a gift that God gives those who are docile to the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit within us, in our heart; we can listen to Him or not listen to Him. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, He teaches us this way of wisdom, He gives us wisdom which is to see with God’s eyes, to hear with God’s ears, to love with God’s heart, to judge things with God’s judgment. This is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives us, and we can all have it, we only need to ask the Holy Spirit for it.
Think of a mother at home with the children, that when one does something, the other thinks of something else, and the poor mother goes from one place to the other with the problems of the children. And when mothers are tired and shout at the children, is that wisdom? To shout at children – I ask you – is that wisdom? What do you say: is it wisdom or not? No! Instead, when the Mother picks up the child and reproves him gently and says to him: “This isn’t done because …”, and she explains it to him with much patience, is this the wisdom of God? Yes! It is what the Holy Spirit gives us in life! Then in marriage, for instance, the two spouses – the husband and the wife – quarrel, and then they don’t look at each other, or if they do look at one another they do so with a cross face: is this the wisdom of God? No! Instead they say: “well, the storm has passed, let’s make peace,” and they begin again to go forward in peace: is this wisdom? [the people: Yes!] See, this is the gift of wisdom. May it come to the home, may it come with the children, may it come with all of us!
And this is not learned: it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must ask the Lord to give us the Holy Spirit and the gift of wisdom, that wisdom of God that teaches us to look with God’s eyes, to feel with God’s heart, to speak with God’s words. And so, with this wisdom we go forward, we build the family, we build the Church, and we are all sanctified. Let us ask today for the grace of wisdom. And let us ask Our Lady, who is the Seat of Wisdom, for this gift: may she give us this grace. Thank you!
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today we begin a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is himself the “gift of God” (cf. Jn 4:10), the presence of God’s love in the Church and in our hearts. Based on a messianic prophecy of Isaiah, the Church has traditionally distinguished seven gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The first of these is wisdom. As a spiritual gift, this wisdom is an interior light, a grace enabling us to contemplate all things with the eyes of God and a heart docile to the promptings of the Spirit. Born of closeness to God in prayer and loving communion, it helps us to recognize with joyful gratitude his providential plan for all things. Christian wisdom is thus the fruit of a supernatural “taste” for God, an ability to savour his presence, goodness and love all around us. How much our world needs the witness of such wisdom today! Let us pray for this gift, so that, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, we can be true men and women of God, transparently open to his own wisdom and the power of his saving love.
Pope Francis (In Italian):
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Australia and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit for a fruitful celebration of this coming Holy Week. God bless you all!
Last Monday, at Homs in Syria, the Reverend Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit confrere of mine, 75, was killed. He arrived in Syria about 50 years ago, and always did good to everyone, with gratuitousness and love, and therefore was loved and esteemed by Christians and Muslims.
His brutal murder has filled me with profound grief and has made me think again of the many people who suffer and die in that martyred country, my beloved Syria, already for too long prey of a bloody conflict, which continues to sow death and destruction. I think also of the numerous persons kidnapped, Christians and Muslims, Syrians and foreigners, among who are Bishops and Priests. Let us pray to the Lord that they may soon be able to return to their dear ones and to their families and communities.
I invite all from my heart to join me in prayer for peace in Syria and in the region, and I make a heartbroken appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community: please, silence the arms, put an end to the violence! No more war! No more destruction! May humanitarian rights be respected, may care be taken of the population in need of humanitarian aid and may the desired peace be attained through dialogue and reconciliation. Let us ask our Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, to give us this gift for Syria and let us all pray together: Ave Maria …
* * *
To the Italian pilgrims: I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I welcome the participants in the competition promoted by the Vicariate of the Latin Patriarchate in Israel; the members of the Organizing Committee of the 4th Centenary of the birth of Pope Innocent XII and the National Council of Industrial Experts. I greet the parish groups, in particular the faithful of Foggia, Scafa and Borgo Tossignano, and the Associations of Support to the Sick and Children: L’Arche, Starbene, AIdel22, Anidan and Magi Euregio. Finally, I greet the Association of Tax Consultants, the delegation of the Military Navy and the relatives of the military men in foreign missions. May the pilgrimage to the See of Peter help you to cultivate that wisdom which God alone can give.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. We are living the time of grace of Lent. Dear young people do not tire of asking for God’s forgiveness in Confession! Dear sick, unite your sufferings to those of the Cross of Christ. And you, dear newlyweds, vie with one another in forgiveness and in mutual help. Thank you.[Translation by ZENIT]