Pope Francis has continued his catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this week discussing the third gift, counsel. During today’s General audience, the Pontiff told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square how prayer is needed for counsel.
Relating to those present, he said, “We know how important it is, in the most difficult moments, to be able to count on the suggestions of wise persons who love us.”
Yet, the Pope added how the faithful must not forget that we can count on the one who is wisest. Through the gift of counsel, he said, “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.”
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,” said Pope Francis.
Francis explained that the Spirit helps us “not to fall prey to egoism or our own way of seeing things” since he “makes us grow interiorly … grow positively … and grow in the community.” In short, he said he “helps us to grow” and “to live in community.”
The essential condition to preserve this gift is prayer, the Pontiff stressed.
“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?’”
With prayer, he said, “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!”
Inviting those present to pray whenever you can ‘squeeze it in,’ the Pontiff reminded them that, “No one, no one is aware when we pray on the bus, on the street: we pray in silence with our heart.” Therefore, “let us take advantage of these moments to pray, to pray that the Spirit will give us this gift of counsel,” he said.
“But,” he asked, “how does this gift act in us?”
Giving the response, he explained: “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, sentiments and intentions according to God’s heart.”
This “intimacy” with God and listening to his Word, he said, “little by little,” allows us to “put aside our personal logic, dictated most often by our closures, our prejudices and our ambitions,” adding that we instead “learn to ask the Lord: what is your desire? What is your will? What pleases you?”
Stating the effect of asking these questions, he said it’s “a profound attunement [which] matures in us.” When we ask, we can start to see the truth of the words 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.’”
“Although the Spirit is the one who counsels us, we must make room for the Spirit, so he can counsel us,” said Francis, adding that “to make room is to pray, to pray so that He will come and help us always.”
Closing, the 77-year-old Pontiff invited the faithful to pray these words from Psalm 16: “‘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.'”
“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.” (D.C.L.)
On Zenit’s Web page:
Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-gift-of-counsel