[Station at St. Lawrence outside the Walls.]
This venerable Church, which houses the relics of the Archdeacon of Rome, is one of the grandest trophies of the victory gained by the Holy Ghost over the Prince of this world. This annual assembly of the Faithful in so holy a place, and for all these long ages, is an eloquent testimony to the completeness of that victory, which made Rome and her power subject to Christ.
The Gift of Counsel
Yesterday, we discussed how necessary Fortitude is for a Christian’s sanctification. But it is not sufficient; we still need another gift, which completes it: Counsel. Fortitude needs direction. The gift of Knowledge is not the guide of Fortitude, and for this reason: Knowledge teaches the soul her last end and gives her general rules for her conduct, but it does not bring her light sufficient for the special application of God’s law to particular cases, and for the practical doing our duty. In those varied circumstances in which we are to be placed, and in the discussions we must then form, we have to hearken to the voice of the Holy Ghost, and this voice speaks to us through the gift of Counsel. It will tell us, if we are attentive to its speaking, what we must do and what we must not do, what we must say and what we must not say, what we may keep and what we must give up. The Holy Ghost acts upon our understanding by the gift of Counsel, as he acts upon our will be the gift of Fortitude.
This precious gift bears upon our whole life, for we are continually obliged to decide on one of two sides or questions. We must be on our guard against natural impulses, which are too often the sole motive of our acts; rashness, which makes us follow whatever feeling happens to be uppermost in our mind; precipitation, which urges us to judge or act, before we have seen both sides of the case; and indifference, which makes us decide haphazardly, out of a repugnance we have to take the trouble of examining what is the best course to pursue.
By the gift of Counsel, the Holy Ghost saves us from these evils. He corrects the impetuosity, or, as the case may be, the apathy of our temperament. He keeps the soul alive to what is true, and good, and conducive to her real interests. Under the direction of the gift of Counsel, the Christian has nothing to fear; the Holy Ghost takes the whole responsibility. It doesn’t matter, therefore, if the world finds fault with us, or criticises us, or scandalizes us: as God spoke to the Prophet Isaias, My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways.
Let us, then, desire this divine gift, which will preserve us from the danger of being our own guides. —But let us remember, it will only dwell in us on the condition of our allowing it to be master. If the Holy Ghost sees that we are not led by worldly principles, and that we acknowledge our own weakness, he will be our Counsel; if he find that we are wise in our own eyes, he will withdraw his light, and leave us to ourselves.