Sunday, May 19, 2013

Put It All Together, And What Do You Get?

According to the Philosopher (Metaph. i: 2), it belongs to wisdom to consider the highest cause. By means of that cause we are able to form a most certain judgment about other causes, and according thereto all things should be set in order. Now the highest cause may be understood in two ways, either simply or in some particular genus. Accordingly he that knows the highest cause in any particular genus, and by its means is able to judge and set in order all the things that belong to that genus, is said to be wise in that genus, for instance in medicine or architecture, according to 1 Cor. 3:10: "As a wise architect, I have laid a foundation." On the other hand, he who knows the cause that is simply the highest, which is God, is said to be wise simply, because he is able to judge and set in order all things according to Divine rules.
Now man obtains this judgment through the Holy Ghost, according to 1 Cor. 2:15: "The spiritual man judgeth all things," because as stated in the same chapter (1 Cor. 2:10), "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." Wherefore it is evident that wisdom is a gift of the Holy Ghost…

The seventh beatitude is fittingly ascribed to the gift of wisdom, both as to the merit and as to the reward. The merit is denoted in the words, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Now a peacemaker is one who makes peace, either in himself, or in others: and in both cases this is the result of setting in due order those things in which peace is established, for "peace is the tranquillity of order," according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xix, 13). Now it belongs to wisdom to set things in order, as the Philosopher declares (Metaph. i, 2), wherefore peaceableness is fittingly ascribed to wisdom. The reward is expressed in the words, "they shall be called the children of God." Now men are called the children of God in so far as they participate in the likeness of the only-begotten and natural Son of God, according to Rm. 8:29, "Whom He foreknew . . . to be made conformable to the image of His Son," Who is Wisdom Begotten. Hence by participating in the gift of wisdom, man attains to the sonship of God
St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II.II.45.1,6

Reflection – Happy Feast of Pentecost, all! May the Holy Spirit descend afresh on each of you, and pour out all seven gifts upon you, and a million other gifts, too.

So we fittingly end our tour of the seven gifts of the Spirit with the gift of wisdom, which is the crown of all of them. Wisdom is the integrating gift, the gift that puts all the other gifts, and everything else, into the divine order, that sets all things into the order of love which is God’s ordering of all that is.

This is so crucial. Without wisdom, all we have are little potsherds of reality – fragments of this doctrine, a fragment of that moral law, a bit of spiritual maxim that we read in this book, a helpful practice we heard about in a sermon once. But potsherds don’t hold water, and sometimes they have sharp edges and can cut deep. Bits and pieces of truth ultimately lead us astray; in fact, since any bit of truth has such power in it, a partial truth can do much more damage than an outright lie.

And so we need to pray for wisdom. To see and know how to fit all the jigsaw pieces into a coherent whole, and not just a coherent whole but a beautiful picture. And that picture is the love of God poured out in Jesus Christ, made really present in us by the abiding gift of the Spirit which is mediated to us through the life of the Church, and which is expressed by us in lives of justice and mercy, leading us by the loving mercy of God to eternal bliss in heaven.

That’s the big picture, and holy wisdom stirs within us, then, to bring us to live orderly lives by loving right now, by serving right now, by praying right now, by being a child of God right now.
I included the bit of article six to highlight something I have omitted, that each gift of the Spirit bears fruit in a beatitude. In this case, ‘blessed are the peacemakers’, since it is wisdom that establishes God’s order in our lives, and that order is our only peace.

So, a happy feast to you all – and may the wisdom of God bring your life into the order of love and mercy so that you can be a peacemaker, and hence a true child of God in the world.


  1. Kevin and I always love reading your blog, Father Denis, but this post was especially moving. The Holy Spirit's gifts, particularly the gift of Wisdom sets our lives in order and orients us to receive and give Love fruitfully. I will chew on this for while. God bless you!

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoy the blog, and this post.


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