The Gifts of the Holy Ghost (5): The Gift of Counsel

Source: FSSPX News

St. Joan of Arc

While the Church and her children celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Ghost during this octave of Pentecost, FSSPX.News offers an opportunity to discover a little better these seven gifts granted by God’s goodness to our souls in order to sanctify them. After meditating on the gifts of understanding, wisdom, and knowledge, we continue with the gift of counsel.

The gift of counsel corresponds to the virtue of prudence, because it is to the prudent that advising belongs. But it is called the gift of counsel rather than of prudence to better emphasize the divine inspiration which characterizes the gifts of the Holy Ghost. St. Thomas explains:

“In the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the human soul behaves less as a principle than as as subject of movement; also it is appropriate that so corresponding to prudence be called not a precept [through which the soul commands itself to such action], or judgment, but counsel, in order to signify the motion by which one mind leads another mind.” (II-II, 52, 2, ad 1)

The gift of counsel regulates our actions, not through human reasons, but through divine reasons, known through intimate experience of divine realities, which instructs the soul in all which is necessary for salvation, yet without excluding the search, led by the Holy Ghost, who, according to Christ’s promise, will teach us all truth, regarding the search, regarding judgment, and regarding action.

The practical faculties can be perfected mystically and affectively, because of the union with God, which gives them a better disposition and makes them more perfect in the prudential judgment. The means to employ will be envisaged then not according to human reason, but according to trust in God, who is powerful in arranging all means and conquering all difficulties. 

Thus, the gift of counsel is based above all on divine Hope, because it has many means at its disposal which can only be implemented thanks to divine assistance and theomnipotence of God, on which Hope is supported above all.

To what objects does the gift of counsel extend?

It extends directly to all actions which are the object of the gifts regulating what is affective--namely, the gifts of strength, piety, and fear of the Lord. Just as prudence regulates all acts of the cardinal virtues, so the prudence of the Holy Ghost or the gift of counsel have the direct goal of regulating and directing the operations which proceed from the gifts of the Holy Ghost perfecting the appetitive faculties.

Indirectly, and in a secondary way, the gift of counsel can direct what is of the domain of common rules, insofar as these must be subject and subordinate to divine rules. And not only the things which are of counsel, but also those which are of precept can be directed by the gift of counsel.

It should be noted that, if the gift of counsel acts always through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, nevertheless, the solution is not always given immediately to each person by the Holy Ghost, but often through the intermediary of other men, with whom He wants us to consult about what is to be done. Thus, through the gift of counsel, the Holy Ghost leads us to consult others, then to accept and accomplish what has been well examined.

St. Joan of Arc often astonished the generals of Charles VII with her decisions. In this way at Orléans, Dunois and his lieutenants believed they had done enough to liberate one of the banks of the river: “No, no,” said Joan. “You had your counsels, and I had mine. Believe that the counsel of my King and Lord will prevail over yours. Be up tomorrow with the army.”

According to John of St. Thomas, The Gifts of the Holy Ghost