By: Rick Hernandez
“I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might”. (Ephesians 1:16-19)
A priest friend once told me: “Our eyes are how we see the world, but the eyes only produce images, impressions of the light on the world. Interpreting the images is what “seeing” is. Both our intellect and our soul give meaning to the images we see to gain insight from them, but too often, we just see with the eyes of our intellect, as most of the world sees. We have to learn how to see better with the eyes of the soul, for that is how we gain wisdom”.
In the first letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us to pray to God for a “spirit of wisdom,” that is, for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to come forth to us. From our relationship with the Holy Spirit, active in our lives, we gain both the exercise of the theological and moral virtues and the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among the gifts that we receive are wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and awe. These gifts are directly related to each other, for they pertain to “seeing.”
Paraphrasing St. Thomas Aquinas, the gift of wisdom is to be able to see the work of the hand of God in all things, in our lives, and in the world. If we use St. Paul’s words from Ephesians 1, wisdom is to “have the eyes of our hearts enlightened.” We are enlightened.
The gift of knowledge is recognizing our purpose as children of God and how He relates to us. This is that we “may know what is the hope that belongs to His call”. We are able to focus.
The gift of understanding is the ability to comprehend how we are to live as followers of Christ. The moral issues become apparent. We are able to discern.
Along with this wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, we can also receive the gift of awe, which is to see and comprehend “the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might.” We are able to stand in awe of the greatness of God.
I have always been more intellectual than anything else. I have always strived for “understanding” as a means to better myself and to help others. I often, mistakenly, thought that knowledge and understanding would inevitably lead to “wisdom.” That is not the case, though it helps. For the true gift of wisdom to be active in our lives, we must cozy up to the Holy Spirit. We must strive to see the world a little differently, through the eyes of our soul and through the eyes of Christ. The eyes of the soul are opened by the virtues, and living the virtues invariably leads to a life of Grace. Grace is a gift, just like the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we live a life of Grace, then our life itself becomes a gift, an offering to our Lord.
More than anything, we must strive to live in this world with virtue. That is what makes ordinary people into saints. Extraordinary, heroic virtue comes after common, ordinary virtue has become a regular part of our lives. Many Saints recognized the role of the mundane and ordinary in this world. When seen through the “eyes of the soul,” the mundane becomes the foundation of our heavenly work on this Earth.
“A saint is one who has learned to spiritualize and sacramentalize and ennoble everything in the world and make of it a prayer.” - Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Divine Sense of Humor)
Let us pray: Lord, you are the creator of all that is seen and unseen. You have left us your Holy Spirit to guide us toward the path to Heaven. Help us then to be open to the promptings of your Spirit, that through His guidance we may achieve a virtuous life. Help us see the world as you see it, that our love may be like yours. May your precious gifts to us also be a gift for our brothers and sisters, that our eyes be opened by your Grace. Amen.