Monday, 12 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 21. Wisdom.

1. All writers on the gifts of the Holy Ghost place wisdom as the highest gift of all. It takes this high position partly because its work is done in the intelligence, which is man’s highest power, and partly because it is that highest power occupied to its highest capacity. Like knowledge and understanding, its business is to make us see God everywhere, in the material and spiritual creation of God, in the concrete facts of existence, and in the revealed truths of faith. It produces in a soul a sense of complete certainty and hope. Hence it is sometimes described as neighbour to hope; indeed, its finest side is often just that determined and resolute conviction with which the soul rises superior to every possible disaster, and is prepared to brave every contingency in its sureness of God’s final power and the efficacy of His will. It comes closer, therefore, to God Himself than do either understanding or knowledge. These do, indeed, enable the soul to be continuously conscious of the divine presence, of God immanent as well as transcendent, God in the heart of the world as well as wholly above the world, and they affect this consciousness by enabling the soul to see Him everywhere. They lift the veil. They show His footprints. They trace everywhere the marks of His power, wisdom, love. But it is noticeable that they lead to God from the world. I see a flower, and by the gift of knowledge I am immediately aware of the author of its loveliness; by understanding I perceive with clearness the wonder of God’s working in the world. By them I lift my eyes from earth to Heaven, by wisdom I look from Heaven to see the earth.
2. Wisdom, therefore, implies an understanding of the world through God, whereas knowledge and understanding suppose a perception of God through the world. Wisdom takes its stand upon causes, the other two on effects. They work from creatures to Creator; wisdom looks upon all the world through the eyes of God. Consequently the effect of wisdom is that the soul sees life as a whole. Matter and truth are to it no longer separate planes of thought, but one. There is at once no distinction between them in the eyes of God, for both are manifestations of Himself and creatures of His making. Hence the soul that is dowered with wisdom climbs up to God’s own height, and looking down upon the world sees it “very good,” noticing how part fits in with part, and how truths of faith, and truths of science and sunset, and flower and Hell, are linked one with another to form the pattern of God’s design. Each has its place in the divine economy of God’s plan, each is equally of God, equally sharing in His purposes, though some more than others able to express God better. The effect, then, is largely that the whole of life is co-ordinated, and equality, fraternity, liberty, become not the motto of a revolution, but of the ordered government of God.
3. The opposite to this gift is folly, for a man who fails in wisdom loses all true judgment of the values of human life. He is perpetually exchanging the more for the less valuable, bestowing huge gifts in just barter, as he imagines, for what is merely showy and trivial. Not by causes, but by effect does he consider life and its activities. The wise man, then, estimates everything by its highest cause. He compares and discovers, gleans the reason of God’s providence, its purpose, its fitness. First principles are his guide, not the ready and practical proverbs that display the wit and worldly wisdom of the lesser man. Eternity becomes of larger moment than time, since time is merely for eternity. God’s law is more convincing than man’s, for man’s enactments are not laws at all when they come in conflict with divine commands. Faith is so deeply in him that he judges between propositions, and discovers truth against heresy. He has climbed to the heights of God and sees all the world at his feet, and knows it as God knows it, the world and its Lord and the glory of it.