It was brought to my attention that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. We need help. So ask for it. Let’s look at what the Church said at the Second Vatican Council about our own times in Gaudium et Spes:
To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows.
Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.
As happens in any crisis of growth, this transformation has brought serious difficulties in its wake. Thus while man extends his power in every direction, he does not always succeed in subjecting it to his own welfare. Striving to probe more profoundly into the deeper recesses of his own mind, he frequently appears more unsure of himself. Gradually and more precisely he lays bare the laws of society, only to be paralyzed by uncertainty about the direction to give it.
Never has the human race enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources and economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the worlds citizens are still tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless numbers suffer from total illiteracy. Never before has man had so keen an understanding of freedom, yet at the same time new forms of social and psychological slavery make their appearance. Although the world of today has a very vivid awareness of its unity and of how one man depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. For political, social, economic, racial and ideological disputes still continue bitterly, and with them the peril of a war which would reduce everything to ashes. True, there is a growing exchange of ideas, but the very words by which key concepts are expressed take on quite different meanings in diverse ideological systems. Finally, man painstakingly searches for a better world, without a corresponding spiritual advancement.
Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers; indeed, it forces them to do so.
What the Council Fathers said in Gaudium et Spes is that we don’t have a corresponding spiritual life to help face the issues of today. Technology is a good thing, but it opens the doors to inviting evil to our door. This is 1965. There is an imbalance to synthesizing our needs and desires keeping in line with God’s desires for our happiness.
We are falling prey to the temptations and not standing strong against evil: we easily give into attractions that lead away from the true center –God. We speak with divided tongues and a divided heart.
Practical materialism, nihilism, serenity in the superficial, acceptance in a view that human effort not realizing that only the Infinite will save man and woman.
What is needed is wisdom, insight that draws conclusions that are correct in view of the Kingdom of God (see the Letter of James). As persons is perfected by wisdom: we move from the visible to the invisible; to see beyond the physical. I don’t need more technology, I don’t need more blogs, more access to Facebook, more cable channels, etc. I want and desire Wisdom. Frank Sheed, among others, speaks of this in his opening chapters of Theology for Beginners.
Further in Gaudium et Spes we read:
In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor. In fidelity to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the life of individuals from social relationships. Hence the more right conscience holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive to be guided by the objective norms of morality. Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin (GS, 16)
Our era needs wisdom more now than in the past to humanize us. we need wiser –not more educated– men and women. Rich in wisdom from above is more valuable than any material benefit. Wisdom from above is gentle; it is not selfish, searching for self-advantage; it has no agenda other than God; wisdom from above is never abrasive and it never ends in division and strife (see the book of Numbers 12). This type of wisdom only opens the door to the Divine Majesty.
How can we recognize wisdom from above? The Letter of James tells us that wisdom “… above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy (insincerity). And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.” It has no ulterior motives, it is not manipulative. God’s gift of wisdom to us is having a right relationship with both God and with one another as we see in the opening verses of Genesis; not disruption of communio among God, humanity and the animal world. Moreover, the wisdom given by God is reasonable.
Saint Paul teaches
… be rooted in him and built up on him [Jesus Christ], held firm by the faith you have been taught, and overflowing with thanksgiving. Make sure that no one captivates you with the empty lure of a ‘philosophy’ of the kind that human beings hand on, based on the principles of this world and not on Christ. In him, in bodily form, lives divinity in all its fullness, and in him you too find your own fulfillment, in the one who is the head of every sovereignty and ruling force. … If you have really died with Christ to the principles of this world, why do you still let rules dictate to you, as though you were still living in the world? (Colossians 2)
This pericope from Colossians teaches us that wisdom is a person, not a thing. And as a person, we meet Wisdom, we encounter in Christ as Wisdom; we know Wisdom firsthand in the cross which Saint Paul calls the wisdom of God. His mother Mary is the seat of wisdom because from her came Wisdom, the Eternal Wisdom was incarnated through her.
What to do:
1. practice Lectio Divina: read Scripture, start with the Gospels;
2. know your faith by knowing the Catechism of the Catholic Church;
3. read the encyclicals of the Popes, start with Bendict XVI and then move to John Paul II’s works (Familiaris Consortio, and Christifidelis Laici, Redemptoris Hominis);
4. listen to the elderly for their wisdom and experience;
5. read the saints;
6. beg the Holy Spirit for the gifts we need.
7. don’t be afraid to ask questions.