When trying to understand God and the teaching of His Church, we are limited by the fact that we’re human. Without Divine assistance, it’s impossible for us to grasp God’s revealed truths. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit comes to our assistance with the gift of understanding. This gift provides us with a deeper knowledge of the mysteries of faith. In the words of Saint Teresa of Avila, “It is like one who, without having learned anything, or having taken the slightest trouble in order to learn to read, finds himself in possession of all existing knowledge.” In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas observes that through the gift of understanding, God is “glimpsed here below”.
While the theological virtue of faith allows us to accept Divine revelation because we trust in God, the gift of understanding enables us to better grasp some of the concepts that we accept by faith. For example, it gives us insight into dogmas such as Purgatory, the Trinity and Mary’s Immaculate Conception. This gift also allows us to better understand The Bible and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. All of a sudden, “the light bulb goes on” and mysterious Church teachings start to make sense!
If you’re having difficulty with some of the more challenging and complex teachings of the Catholic Church, I recommend that you pray for an increase of the gift of understanding. You could even model your prayer on King David’s words in the Old Testament:
“Give me understanding, that I may keep the law and observe it with my whole heart.” (Psalm 119:34)
Next: The Gift of Knowledge