August 14, 2022
We often face this question in our lives. We have to make important and difficult choices. By the Gift of Counsel, we can have the Holy Spirit’s divine guidance to help us.
This is the sixth in a series of nine homilies on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The following are the links to all the homilies in this series:
1st – The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
2nd – The Gift of Fear of the Lord
3rd – The Gift of Piety
4th – The Gift of Fortitude
5th – The Gift of Understanding
6th – The Gift of Counsel
7th – The Gift of Knowledge
8th – The Gift of Wisdom
9th – Searching for Wisdom
- Jesus wants to transform our world by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
- Authentic prudence is the virtue that helps us make decisions which align with the true purpose of our life.
- Making decisions is sometimes difficult, so it’s often helpful to take time before deciding to take more time for thought and prayer.
- The Gift of Council is from God, but He still respects our freedom to make decisions. God gives us guidance, and we are free to accept it or not.
- Asking for God’s help and taking some time to pray about it is like opening a door to the Holy Spirit which permits His light to come in.
- We don’t have to rely on ourselves in challenging situations, we can turn to the Holy Spirit and humbly recognize our need for Him.
This is a computer generated transcription that has been included to make the homily searchable. It has not been verified by the author.
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” Jesus wants to transform our world by the fire of the Holy Spirit, not a fire of destruction, but the fire of the Holy Spirit. We’ve been reflecting on how He gives the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, to help bring about this transformation of our world, to guide us in a new life, and a new way of acting. And a way of acting, which can inspire all the decisions that we have to make, because each one of us every day, has to make a lot of decisions. And a lot of times, we have a question, what should I do? A question which comes up all the time, what should I do? Think of all the decisions that we have to make, just everyday decisions, but everyday decisions, which can seem insignificant, but which actually can have at least a little by little, a big impact. Like, what should I do with my free time? Even like, what should I eat? Should I take another drink? How fast should I drive? That’s a question you had to decide this morning coming over here. Should I watch this movie? Parents, with their children have decisions all the time to make. And then there’s big decisions that we have to make. What should I do with my life? What vocation am I going to follow? Decisions about friends. What friends do I choose? Do I enter into a relationship? And how do I live a relationship? And my call to get married? And if so, to who? What work should I do? Where should I live? So, all sorts of decisions that we have to make today. Today is the Feast of Saint Maximilian Mary Colby, who was living, he had started a community, so he had a lot of decisions to make with his new community. And then, as the Nazis invaded Poland, he had all sorts of difficult decisions because of the very challenging situation they were living. In the first reading we had today, we have the prince, the king, rather, who has to make decisions about what’s he going to do with Jeremiah, he’s getting conflicting ideas. And so, in our own time, so we’re living in times which are very uncertain, how can we make good decisions? Because a lot of our life depends on the decisions that we make. So how can we make good decisions? Prudence, authentic prudence, is the virtue that helps us make good decisions, decisions which align with the true goals of our life. And God has given us our intelligence to make good decisions, to help us make good decisions. Sometimes it’s clear what we should do, but sometimes it’s not so clear. And so, in those cases, it’s often helpful to take some time, if possible, before we make the decision, to reflect. So just something as simple as that, as taking some time, when possible, it can be very helpful. Not rushing into decisions, which needed a little bit more thought. Just that simple act can make a huge difference. And sometimes it’s helpful to do a little bit of research or to consult with someone, like, say a doctor, consult with a doctor like maybe before beginning a new exercise program. And so, this is the stage of what is called taking counsel, reflecting, and researching and consulting, to help us get the advice, the information that we need to make a good decision. So that’s important. But there’s still a problem. First of all, sometimes I’m not setting the right goals and not focused on the right goals. And also, there’s so many things about the circumstances, especially about the future, that neither we nor other persons know. I mean think, for instance, or someone deciding to open a restaurant a couple of years ago, not knowing at all, all that would happen with COVID. And how devastating that would be for so many businesses. So, it’s sometimes very hard to make decisions, when there’s so much that we don’t know. Like, say when you’re making a decision about marriage, and realize that there’s so much about yourself, about the other person, about the circumstances that you’ll be facing that you don’t know. So, there’s situations in which our own human intelligence is not sufficient. And how can we make good decisions in those cases? And so, this is where the gift of counsel comes in. So, this today is the fifth in our series, as we’re looking at the different gifts of the Holy Spirit. Today, the gift of counsel, and like all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it’s good news. It’s very encouraging to realize that we’re not alone, that we have the help of the Holy Spirit. Here’s what St. Thomas says about the gift of counsel. He says, “through this, man is directed as though counseled by God,” as though counseled by God. Just as in human affairs, those who are unable to take counsel for themselves, seek counsel from those who are wiser. So, there’s some things that we might know a lot about, and we don’t need to ask someone else about, but other things we don’t know much about. We want an expert’s opinion. And in this case, the gift of counsel, it’s God Himself. We’re receiving counsel from God Himself, who knows a lot about a lot of things. And He doesn’t charge as much, right? So, God, this gift of counsel, still respects our freedom. Just like when we take human counsel, we can get advice, but we still have to make the decision. So, with the gift of counsel, God gives us guidance, that He respects our freedom. We are still free to choose to accept it or not accept it. And like all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this gift is given to all those who are in a state of grace. So, if we’re in a state of grace, we have this gift of counsel. And so, of course, this gift doesn’t replace our human intelligence, because there’s a lot of things for you that our human intelligence is sufficient. For instance, you don’t need the gift of counsel to decide which side of the road you should drive on. You don’t have to say, Holy Spirit, tell me what side of the road I should drive on. Because the laws are pretty clear. And that’s usually sufficient. But again, there’s a lot of situations where the human means might be sufficient. For instance, we also have the Scripture, like the 10 commandments, that give us a lot of guidance. But there are some decisions for which even scripture is not sufficient. For instance, personal decisions that we have to make, for instance, as I mentioned, about a vocation, or about a marriage. Those are decisions about one particular person or one particular path. That’s a personal decision. And so, we need this gift of counsel. Think, for instance of St. Joseph, having to decide whether he should take Mary as his spouse, or St. Paul having to decide where he should go on his missionary journeys, little by little discovering where he should go. And I think for example, we’ve often mentioned here at the Mission of Divine Mercy, when we had to decide should we sign a contract for this property, despite how challenging the financial burden would be for our community. And with all the uncertainty when we started our community, of course, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what situation we will be facing. So that’s an example of a situation in which we need the Holy Spirit’s help to make a good decision. So how concretely can we exercise this gift of counsel to help us make a good decision? And the important thing is simply by asking for His help, asking the Holy Spirit to help us. And even taking time to pray about our decisions, whether it’s a decision that you have to make or decision when someone is asking you for counsel, because that often happens, people ask us, “what should I do?” And sometimes the situation, I face all the time, I face it in the confessional, and I face it all the time. What should I do? What should I advise the person? And so, it’s helpful to be able to take a little bit of time to ask the Holy Spirit, to pray, and ask the Holy Spirit. And maybe we don’t sense anything. We don’t sense anything in response. But just the fact that we’re making the act of humility. It’s an act of humility to recognize that we don’t have all the answers. It’s an act of trust and faith in the Lord, that we believe that He loves us, and He wants to guide us. And it’s also an act of obedience, because we’re seeking not to do my own will, but to do God’s will. And so again, even if you don’t sense a response, just that fact of asking for His help, and taking some time to pray about it, it’s like opening a door to the Holy Spirit. It’s like opening a door, which permits His light to come in. “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” And so each of us has many decisions to make, which can have an impact for good or bad on ourselves and on others. And so, the good news is that we don’t have to rely on ourselves in those challenging situations, we can turn to the Holy Spirit. And that’s actually one of the benefits of a challenging situation. It’s actually one of the benefits of a situation which we feel I don’t know what to do. Because sometimes there’s a danger or where we think we know what to do, but it’s our own idea, not the Lord. And so, an advantage of situations when we feel like I have no idea what I’m supposed to do is that those can be the opportunities in which we turn to the Holy Spirit, and humbly recognizing our need for Him. And so right now, during this Mass, we can do that, with the decisions that we’re facing right now. We can ask the Holy Spirit, trusting in His gift of counsel that you have already been given, to help guide us. And He loves to guide us. He doesn’t get tired of giving us advice. He just does. So many things go so much better when He guides us. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it means He’s guiding us on the right path. And He loves to do that. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of this gift of counsel. Tomorrow, as Mother Magdalene was mentioning, we have the great feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. And a week later, the Feast of her Queenship. Mary who was so humble and quiet, and yet guided by the Holy Spirit. And so, this fire that Jesus is speaking about, this fire to transform the world, no creature more than she contributed to this transforming fire of the Holy Spirit, because she was listening and following His counsel. And so, today to end this homily, and to begin, this novena I just want to end by praying with you the prayer many of you are familiar with, the prayer of Hail Holy Queen. It’s the prayer that we sing in Latin when we sing the Salve Regina. but if you’d like to, you could close your eyes, and we’ll ask her to be our Queen, who helps us listen and follow the counsel of the Holy Spirit. And so, feel free to pray with me. “Hail, holy queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Oh Clement, Oh loving, Oh Sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us Oh Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.” Amen.
KEYWORDS / PHRASES:
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Gift of Counsel
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10