The Holy See
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Sunday 9 April 1989



1. Within the perspective of the Solemnity of Pentecost, towards which the Easter season directs us, we want to reflect together on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which the Church's Tradition has always proposed on the basis of the famous text of Isaiah regarding the "Spirit of the Lord" (cf. Is 11:1-2).

The first and greatest of these gifts is wisdom, which is a light which we receive from on high; it is a special sharing is that mysterious and highest knowledge which is that of God himself. In fact, we read in Sacred Scriptures: "Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to sceptre and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparisom with her" (Wis 7:7-8).

This higher wisdom is the root of a new awareness, a knowledge permeated by charity, by means of which the soul becomes familiar, so to say, with divine things, and tastes them. St Thomas speaks precisely of "a certain taste of God" ("Summa Theol." II-II, q. 45, a. 2 ad 1), through which the truly wise person is not simply the one who knows the things of God but rather the one who experiences and lives them.

2. This sapiential awareness further gives us a special ability to judge human things according to God's standard, in God's light. Enlightened by this gift, the Christian is able to see into the reality of the world; no one is better able to appreciate the authentic values of creation, beholding them with the very eyes of God.

We find a fashinating example of this superior understanding of the "language of creation" in St Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Creatures".

3. Through this gift the entire life of the individual Christian, with all its events, hopes, plans, and achievements, is caught up in the breath of the Spirit, who permeates it with Light "from on high" as is assested to by many chosen souls in our day also and, I would say today especially by St Clelia Barbieri and her shining example as a woman who possessed a wealth of such wisdom, even at her young age.

In all of these souls the "great things" that the Spirit did in Mary are repeated. May she whom pious tradition venerates as the "Sedes sapientiae" lead each of us to taste interiorly divine things.