As an educator, I have heard this cliché many times. We are stronger, we are better because we know something. But, how do we use this “power”? Do we use it to improve our relationship with Jesus Christ? Do we use it to help our brothers and sisters?
My confirmation memories are not of flames descending upon me and the other students that evening. I don’t recall the readings, the Gospel or the words from Bishop John Paul’s homily. I do remember my older brother Bill was my sponsor and that he held me up as Bishop John Paul aggressively sealed me with the Holy Spirit. I’m sad I don’t remember more; I now know my immaturity is the reason for my lack of memories.
“I often pray for more knowledge because I find I struggle with four words in the Our Father – Thy will be done.”
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, I have matured. Perhaps, I am a little smarter; maybe I know a little more. Today, I often pray for more knowledge because I find I struggle with four words in the Our Father – Thy will be done. The Gift of Knowledge from the Holy Spirit can help all of us live out God’s will. The Gift of Knowledge can be defined as “the gift of knowing and enlightenment. This gift enables you to choose the right path that will lead you to God. It encourages you to avoid obstacles that will keep you from Him.” My continual hope is that the Holy Spirit will strengthen the Gift of Knowledge within me so I am open to the life God wants for me.
God wants for all of us to be with Him. We are His children. To be with God we must have a strong relationship with His Son. Mary tells us at the Wedding in Cana, “Listen to Him.” And, we hear Christ Himself instruct us in the Gospel of John, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6) Thus, I feel drawn to use the Gift of Knowledge the Holy Spirit has given me to improve my relationship with Jesus. Although I easily get lost in my thoughts and in the details of the day, in prayer I try to listen to what Christ is saying to me. I know if I hear and trust in Jesus’ words, He will take care of me.
Jesus instructs us to care for our fellow human beings. Throughout the Gospels and in many different ways, He commands us to serve and love one another. I depend on the Gift of Knowledge to help me choose correctly, choose what is God’s will when I am with other people. I have found this relatively easy when the people I am with are happy and joyful. But during times of tension and struggle, I need the Gift of Knowledge to help me continue to be a loving servant. A priest in Oshkosh, Father Carr, once instructed me and some students that God puts one grumpy person among 100 to test us. I think of Father Carr when I no longer want to work with the person who is driving me crazy, who is testing my patience. Knowledge to choose correctly, to choose to continue to be kind even in difficult circumstances, is what we all need.
The Holy Spirit’s power is evident in my life through my family, the smiles of children, the joy of teachers and administrators, the intelligence of priests and the dedication of parents. I am thankful that His power is also evident in the Gift of Knowledge. “Thy will be done.” If you and I are truly following what we say in the Lord’s Prayer, then we will use the Gift of Knowledge to strengthen our life with Jesus, and we will joyfully serve our fellow man in His name.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of La Crosse
Published September/October 2019 issue
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
Deacon Joseph Richards
Theology IV, Home Parish St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, La Crosse
Since beginning seminary, I see three ways the Holy Spirit has opened my mind with the Gift of Knowledge: knowledge of God, knowledge of God’s people and knowledge of myself. Programs like the Institute for Priestly Formation (a summer-long, integrated, priestly spirituality course), Clinical Pastoral Education (a hospital chaplaincy internship) and seminary formation have helped me know myself better. This knowledge of self helps me see more clearly how the Lord is leading me and gives me a stronger foundation for my life and ministry as a priest. Parish ministry and pastoral work have introduced me to God’s people and helped me understand their needs. This knowledge of others helps me see more accurately how the Lord is directing my own ministry. Coursework and time spent in the intimate quiet of prayer have shown me a clearer picture of God’s own face. This increasing knowledge of God shows me with greater humility who I am as God’s son and how He moves through creation, history and the Church today.
Deacon Levi Schmitt
Theology IV, Home Parish Sacred Heart, Elmwood, WI
Jesus notes in the Gospels that, besides being the Way and the Life, He is also the Truth. Christ is Truth. This profound statement makes clear our desperate need for the Holy Spirit’s aid. Knowledge, in the context of priestly formation and beyond, is more than the brute memorization of facts or an eloquent cobbling together of words. If I know theology without knowing the person of Christ, then I really do not know theology. This type of knowledge, a knowledge in the heart, is not achieved by human effort but only as a Gift from the Holy Spirit.
Deacon Samuel McCarty
Theology IV, Home Parish St. Michael, Wausau, WI
Knowing God is different than knowledge of Him. Seminary offers the opportunity and gift of studying theology, which is something I’ve always enjoyed and appreciate very much. This study is ultimately a futile endeavor, however, if it seeks to replace genuine relationship with the Lord. Formation’s far greater gift is the invitation and opportunity to get to know the God who comes near to us. The Holy Spirit’s Gift of Knowledge, it seems to me, is just this personal relationship with God that transforms me and my perspective, enabling me to see as He does.
Class of 2019, St. Michael Parish, Wausau, WI
With the Gift of Knowledge, I know that my life is so much more than the now. It pushes me to choose actions that take me closer to eternal life, even when it is not the easy choice.
Deacon Daniel Williams
Theology IV, Home Parish All Saints, Stanley, WI
In priestly formation, there are two main ways that the Gift of Knowledge is at work. First, the Gift of Knowledge makes knowing about God change into a relational knowledge of God. God is not merely a concept to be thought about, but a person to be encountered in a profound way. While much of priestly formation is surrounded with the academic and intellectual aspect of knowing our Faith and what we believe about God, it also provides the opportunity for taking that learning and using it in growing in relationship with Him. Unless I know God in the relational sense, my ministry will be less fruitful. It is out of our relationship with God that we operate. Second, the Gift of Knowledge aids us in following God’s will in our lives. Flowing from our relationship with God comes hearing His call to follow His will and accomplish His work in this world. Priestly formation is centered around the divine aspect of responding to the Lord’s promptings in following Him. In this way, we can come to know what He wills us to do in this life in order to follow Him into eternal life. This extraordinary Gift of Knowledge that is bestowed upon us grants us the peace of knowing and heeding His call and the understanding that we are doing what He has created us to do.
8th Grade, Aquinas Middle School, La Crosse, WI
There are some things that I do that aren’t the best use of my time. The Holy Spirit gives me the Gift of Knowledge to make better decisions.