Gifts of the Holy Spirit Series - KNOWLEDGE
WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT'S GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE?
By Fr. Edlefsen
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural “dispositions” given at Baptism and deepened at
Confirmation. They are Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Courage, and Fear
of the Lord. Like a boat’s sails, they catch the “wind” of the Holy Spirit. Previously, I said that
Wisdom gives us intimate knowledge God, and it perfects love. Understanding perfects faith,
and it gives insight into the Bible and the teachings of Christ and his Church. So, what is the
Gift of Knowledge?
Through Knowledge, the Holy Spirit helps us to see the human condition as it really is: good but
profoundly broken. Knowledge de-romanticizes our outlook on life. “Jesus did not entrust
himself to them…for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). Through Knowledge, the Holy
Spirit gives intuitive insight into humanity’s fallen condition.
Why is there so much injustice in the world? Why do innocent people suffer? Why are some
people so cruel and mean? Through Knowledge, we begin to see through all of this. To some
extent and on some occasions, Knowledge may have us “read souls.” We gain insight into
people’s behaviors in ways that help us and them, but with empathy. “The spiritual man
appraises all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15).
If you suspect the Spirit is working in you through Knowledge, keep humble and do not let it go
to your head. Certainly, do not go around telling people about it. Pride would be lethal, and
the Spirit will withdraw. Also, the insights you receive through Knowledge may not be what you
expect or want. At first, they may be disturbing. But Knowledge leads to wisdom and even
Knowledge may help you help others. The Gift sometimes gives a person healing qualities.
St. Francis of Assisi embodied this Gift: He saw the vanity of “worldliness” and the tragic reality
of sin; and yet, he embraced Creation as a revelation of the Father’s goodness. Knowledge
chastens us. If you have trouble controlling yourself with pleasure or worldliness, this Gift of
the Spirit will sober you up. It performs “surgery” on the senses. Knowledge perfects the
virtue of temperance. At first, it might make you sad. But the sadness will give way to
consolation from Heaven. Knowledge produces the Beatitude, “Blessed are the sorrowful,
they shall be consoled.”