Understanding, Gift of

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The gift of the Holy Spirit that perfects the virtue of faith by moving the intellect to penetrate revealed truths. Through the virtue of faith the mind has a knowledge of supernatural truths, but in a limited, human mode. Man's natural manner of knowing is discursive. Understanding provides a capacity for a penetration to the objects of faith that are beyond the discursive power of reason. Through it, the Holy Spirit elevates the intellect to act above its human mode and achieve a more profound penetration of the truth than is possible by faith alone. Perfected thus by the gift, faith can rise to an ever-greater intensity by a simple intuition of the divine truths. The influence of faith then tends to be extended to all the movements of the soul and all things are seen, increasingly, through faith. This gift, and its proper function, can best be understood by seeing it in its relation to the other gifts; for fuller explanation and additional bibliography, see holy spirit, gifts of.

Bibliography: a. royo, The Theology of Christian Perfection, ed. and tr. j. aumann (Dubuque, Iowa 1962) 370377. r. cessario, Christian Faith and the Theological Life (Washington, D.C.1996). s. pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics, tr. m. t. noble (3d rev. ed.; Washington, D.C. 1995). thomas aquinas, Summa theologiae 2a2ae, q.6869.

[p. mulhern]