The gift of understanding 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.”
Understanding allows us to have a better grasp on the truths of Faith such as Purgatory, the Trinity, Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Assumption. This gift also allows us to better understand The Bible and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If you are having difficulty comprehending any of these things, consider praying for an increase of the gift of understanding. You could join your prayer with that of King David in the Old Testament, where he asked The Lord, “Give me understanding, that I may keep the law and observe it with my whole heart.” (Ps 119:34)
As with all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we receive them as “seeds” and they must be “watered” in order for them to grow. The “water” that we need is found in the Sacraments and prayer. Advent is a great time to focus on how we could better allow the gifts to grow in us. Maybe we could attend daily Mass one extra time during the week or read the Bible for 10 minutes a day. Possibly we’re overdue for the sacrament of Confession and we could vow to go soon. How about a visit to pray before the Blessed Sacrament? All of these things will help to increase the gift of understanding (as well as the other gifts) and bring us closer to The Lord.