Counsel is the third of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, even those who are not in the state of grace. However, sanctifying grace brings with it the supernatural dimension that we name the gift of counsel.
Like prudence, counsel allows us to judge rightly what we should do in a particular circumstance. It goes beyond prudence, though, in allowing such judgments to be made promptly. When we are in the state of grace, we are naturally inclined to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Counsel builds on both wisdom, which allows us to judge the things of the world in light of our final end, and understanding, which helps us to penetrate to the very core of the mysteries of our faith. It is the gift that allows us as Christians to be assured that we will act correctly in times of trouble and trial. Through counsel, we can speak without fear in defense of the Christian Faith. Thus, counsel makes it possible for us to choose correctly what enhance God’s glory and our own salvation.
Paired with counsel is the gift of Fortitude. Fortitude is in itself one of the cardinal virtues. While Counsel makes it possible for us to speak assuredly in the defense of our Christian Faith, Fortitude gives us the strength to do so in the face of opposition. Some would call this gift courage. However, Fortitude is different in that, while it strengthens us even in the face of persecution and danger, it would never seek danger nor would it seek recognition for bravery and courage.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator