The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit is Knowledge.  Once again, we might find it difficult to distinguish this gift from that of Wisdom and Understanding.  There is, however, a subtle difference.

Each of us is called to a certain way of life.  We refer to this call as our vocation.  The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of Knowledge so that we can understand that call.  God has placed each of us in a specific milieu, a specific environment.  For those of us who are CUSANS, we have come to understand that God’s call for us is to live with the reality of chronic illness or disability.  Knowledge helps us to discern God’s purpose in placing us in this environment. 

Knowledge helps us to see the circumstances of our life as God sees them although in a limited way.  For someone who lacks the gift of Knowledge, a life of carrying the cross of chronic illness or disability will seem to be cruel or unreasonable.  However, the Holy Spirit helps us to see that this is the path that will lead us to God.  In that respect it is possible to see illness or disability as a gift from God through which we can sanctify our lives.

Of course there is a presupposition in place here that makes all the difference.  If we still see ourselves as the focus of our lives, then God’s path makes no sense.  However, the suffering and death of Jesus is a potent reminder that our lives are not about ourselves.  Our lives are about others.  When we divest ourselves of the need to “be all that we can be,” then we will be able to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: . . .”  (Philippians 2:5b)  That mindset tells us that the needs of others come first.  With this gift of Knowledge, we can come to understand God’s purpose in placing us in our present situation. 

Knowledge has also been called "the science of the saints," because "it enables those who have the gift to discern easily and effectively between the impulses of temptation and the inspirations of grace." Judging all things in the light of divine truth, we can more easily distinguish between the promptings of God and the subtle wiles of the devil.  (Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary)

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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