Skip to main content

Understanding, Gift of


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]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Understanding, Gift of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 17 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Understanding, Gift of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (January 17, 2019).

"Understanding, Gift of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved January 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.