Tag Archives: wisdom

Back to School: Jesus, a guide for students’ advancement in wisdom, age and favor

September 6, 2018

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Jesus The Student

Late August and early September signal the beginning of a new school year. Whether a student attends a Catholic school, private school, or public school, education is a spiritual process. Jesus was a student, and his example serves as a guide for all students. As a twelve-year old, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Lk 2:52), which is to say that he matured intellectually, physically, and spiritually, and students are to take their cues from him.

Wisdom presumes the mastery of academic subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic; or history, art, and music; or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A good student has a strong desire to learn, willingly attends school, pays attention in class, stays on task, asks and responds to questions, completes assignments and projects, and does one’s own work. Jesus is a shining example. He was so eager to learn that he remained behind in Jerusalem, went to the Temple, the center of learning, and sat in the midst of the teachers, listened to them, and asked them questions (see Lk 2:46).

Wisdom is more than the mastery of facts and figures or the ability to conduct an experiment and analyze the results. Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2). Wisdom combines academic learning, experience, insight, and common sense. It distinguishes between right and wrong, seeks and upholds the truth, applies information constructively, and balances personal good with the common good. Wisdom is the ability to exercise sound judgment.

Jesus also advanced in age. Jesus grew in size physically. He matured from infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood. He put on weight, grew taller, and got stronger. Jesus was a good steward of his body, and students are to do likewise. Young people have a spiritual duty to eat a well-balanced diet, get enough rest at night, and exercise regularly. It encompasses healthy practices like brushing your teeth, taking a bath or a shower, and wearing appropriate clothing. At school, physical development includes playground activities, physical education classes, and health classes, as well as extracurricular opportunities like volleyball, dance, soccer, or swimming. Physical safety is also a major concern: the avoidance of dangerous or risky behaviors, caution when crossing the street, and saying no to drugs.

Most importantly, Jesus advanced in favor. He became pleasing to God, and one of the best ways for a young person to please God is to obey one’s parents. When it came to Mary and Joseph, Jesus was “obedient to them” (Lk 2:51). He had a respectful attitude, a cooperative spirit, and a bright disposition; and he listened to his parents, followed their directions, and complied with their house rules. When a child goes to school, the respect accorded to one’s parents is extended to one’s teachers.

To advance in favor is to grow closer to God and to increase in personal holiness. This improvement is fostered by daily prayer, Mass every Sunday, the regular reception of the sacraments, religious education classes, church youth group, and good works. It also includes virtuous behaviors such as telling the truth, getting along with brothers and sisters, performing assigned household tasks, respecting classmates, good behavior on the bus, the use of appropriate language, and playing in a sportsmanlike manner.

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Sacred Scripture, Wisdom for Salvation

October 14, 2016

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The Word of God.  Sacred Scripture is the writings of the Holy Bible, all of the books in both the Old and New Testaments.  These books are on an approved list called the Canon of Sacred Scripture because they are considered authentic, contain correct teaching, and have been in continuous use throughout the centuries.

The Human Word of Almighty God.  Sacred Scripture is the Word of God and inspired by God.  The words are “human,” the words that people use to express themselves, and the authors are human, real people such as Moses and Isaiah, Matthew and Mark, Peter and Paul.  God did not dictate the words that were to be written, nor did God insert the words into their brains or direct their pens.  Each author wrote freely.

Inspiration.  The composition of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit.  It is “revelation,” something about God or the truth that the author could not have known or learned on his own.  Revelation comes in mystical ways such as dreams, messages brought by angels, voices, visions, thoughts, and insights.

Scripture’s Limitations.  Scripture is one way that God communicates with us.  God uses words, yet words in themselves are finite, limited, and cannot say everything.  Words reveal something of God but not everything of God because God is infinite and transcends the limited nature of words.  They cannot convey everything that there is to know about God, but they do reveal a great deal.  Scripture is an act of love by God, God taking the initiative to communicate with us.

Scripture, the Source of Wisdom.  St. Paul wrote that “sacred scriptures which are capable of giving you wisdom” (2 Tm 3:15).  The word “wisdom” is carefully chosen.  He avoided the word “knowledge.”  Scripture is not information, a history book to learn or a theology book to study, matters of the mind to know and understand.  Scripture is a matter of the heart.  It is not only what we know but what we believe.  It is what we love, value, and treasure.  It is our passion.  It is to be devoured by us and become the fabric of our being (see Ez 3:1-4).

Wisdom.  Wisdom is the first gift of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2).  It is the ability to exercise good judgment.  It distinguishes between right and wrong.  It seeks and upholds truth and justice.  It is oriented toward the common good.  It is the parent of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.  It is one with the truth, and the closer we get to the truth, the closer we get to God.

Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training.  Scripture is useful for teaching:  it contains the truth about God and serves as the basis for doctrine; for reproof, to reject errors, distortions, deceptions, heresies, and false teaching; for correction, to correct misunderstandings and misapplications, to expose wrong decisions and actions, and to help a person get back on the right track; and for training in righteousness, to help a person to grow in goodness and virtue, and to increase in their desire to obey and please God.

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The 7 best Confirmation gifts

April 17, 2012

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Photo/ideacreamanuelaPps. Licensed under Creative Commons.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit have been coming up in conversations with my goddaughter, whom I’m sponsoring for Confirmation this spring. She has her eye on a particular gift, even though she’ll receive all seven when she’s confirmed later this month.

As the Holy Spirit bestows the seven gifts on my goddaughter in Confirmation, He will increase and complete her baptismal graces. (I remember her baptism well. I’m excited to see everything come together as she receives the last of her sacraments of initiation!)

Whether you’re involved with Confirmation right now, were confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year (congratulations!), received the sacrament a while ago or you’re just interested in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this sacrament, here is quick explanation of the gifts and a description of each one.

We know about the seven gifts because in scripture Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would have them when the Spirit rested upon Him. (Is. 11:2-3) The first verse lists wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and a fear of the Lord. The Church recognizes seven gifts because while the Hebrew text mentions the fear of the Lord twice, Greek and Latin versions instead list “piety.”

Following the Spirit’s promptings

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are habits that perfect us so we’re able to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. They are supernatural gifts that are present to us as long as we’re in a state of sanctifying grace. They complete and perfect the virtues (faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance) of those who receive them and make us docile and ready to obey the Lord’s inspirations. (CCC1831)  The gifts are meant to help us share in God’s life and nature—on earth and for eternity.

The gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and counsel belong to reason, while fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord belong to appetite, according to St. Thomas.

  1. Wisdom: The ability to find God in all things—in nature, events in the world and generally the ups and downs of life. It keeps us from judging by appearances alone and makes us more mature in how we think and act.
  2. Knowledge: This gift offers understanding of God and the universe. More than a collection of facts, it helps us know who we are and the true value of things through life events.
  3. Understanding: This gift helps us know how to live as Christians. It also gives insight into the truths of the faith so we aren’t confused by the conflicting cultural messages on how to live. It is perfected through prayer and reading scripture.
  4. Counsel (Right Judgment): The knowledge to discern between right and wrong—and the ability to choose what is right and avoid sin. This gift also helps us seek direction in the Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation while being open to the advice of others.
  5. Fortitude (Courage): The ability to overcome fear and stand up for what is right according to God’s law even in the face of rejection, verbal abuse or physical harm. It gives the firmness of mind needed to do good and endure suffering. And it provides the strength to live a good Christian life even when no one seems to notice.
  6. Piety (Reverence): A deep sense of love and respect for God and the Church. Reverence leads to prayer because in realizing our total reliance on God we come before Him with humility, trust and love. At the Holy Spirit’s instigation, through piety we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote.
  7. Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe): A gift that helps us recognize God’s majesty and glory, and His great love for us. It helps us avoid anything that would separate us from His love.

As I go through this list, I’m wondering whether I’ve fully unwrapped all these gifts since my own Confirmation. It’s not a bad idea to ask the Holy Spirit to inflame them in our soul.  In his article on the Catholic Education Resource Center’s site, Fr. William Saunders quotes Bl. John Paul II on the power of the gifts: “With gifts and qualities such as these, we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties.”

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