The Gift of Knowledge enables us to know the true value of creatures and created things in their relationship to the Creator and the principles of revealed truth.
As Bd John Paul II taught in his Regina Coeli address on 23 April 1989:
We know that modern man, precisely because of the development of the sciences, is particularly exposed to the temptation to give a naturalistic interpretation to the world.
Before the manifold magnificence of things, their complexity, variety and beauty, he runs the risk of absolutizing and almost divinizing them to the extent of making them the supreme purpose of his very life. This happens especially when it is a matter of riches, pleasure and power, which indeed can be drawn from material things. These are the principal idols before which the world too often prostrates.
In order to resist such subtle temptations and to remedy the pernicious consequences to which they can lead, the Holy Spirit aids people with the gift of Knowledge. It is this gift which helps them to value things correctly in their essential dependence on the Creator.
He thus discovers the theological meaning of creation, seeing things as true and real, although limited, manifestations of the Truth, Beauty, and infinite Love which is God, and consequently he feels impelled to translate this discovery into praise, song, prayer, and thanksgiving.
Enlightened by the gift of Knowledge, man discovers at the same time the infinite distance which separates things from the Creator, their intrinsic limitation, the danger that they can present, when, through sin, he makes improper use of them. It is a discovery which leads him to realize with remorse his misery and impels him to turn with greater drive and confidence to Him who alone can fully satisfy the need of the infinite which assails him.
I imagine that when St Paul fell to the ground on his approach to Damascus, part of what happened to him was an infusion of the Gift of Knowledge. St Ignatius, too, received this gift, as evidenced by the way in which he incorporated it into the “Principle and Foundation” of his Spiritual Exercises:
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
Here are some occasions on which we should engage (or ask for more of) the Gift of Knowledge:
- If we find our material pursuits or pleasures overshadowing our relationship with God
- When the exterior busyness of our daily lives prevents us from taking the time to nurture an interior life
- If viewpoints anchored in moral relativism cause us to be confused about some aspects of life and culture
- When we find ourselves doubting or dissenting from the teaching of the Church
If you can think of other times when we should engage the Gift of Knowledge, please share them with us in the Comment Box (like Glenn did yesterday!).