Confirmation-The Seven Fold Grace of God pt 2: Counsel
In the Catechism of the Council of Trent we read:
Quote “In Confirmation is contained the true and proper nature of a Sacrament has always been acknowledged by the Catholic Church.” the Catechism goes on to say, “The truth of this doctrine St. Clement could not confirm in stronger terms than when he says, 'All should hasten without delay to be born again (baptized) unto God, and afterwards to be signed (confirmed) by the Bishop.” that is to receive the seven fold grace of the Holy Ghost; for, as has been handed down to us from St. Peter, and as the other Apostles taught in obedience to the command of Our Lord, he who culpably and voluntarily, and not from necessity, neglects to receive this Sacrament, cannot possibly be a perfect Christian.' To be a perfect and complete Christian one needs to be sealed at the day of their confirmation with the seven fold grace of the Holy Ghost.”
What is the seven fold grace of the Holy Ghost? And what is it used for in our Christian life?
The seven fold grace of the Holy Spirit that, initially, is magnified in us at our confirmation, and has unique skills and abilities given by the Holy Spirit, to faithful followers of Christ, to serve God for the common benefit of his people, the Church. And for reaching others, out side of the Church, for Christ. The seven fold grace, referred to by the Catechism, is described in Isaiah 11:1-3, where it mentions wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, and Piety and the fear of the Lord. The seven fold grace of the Spirit, mentioned in Isaiah, are simply God empowering faithful Christians to do what He has called us to do. The Catholic Church list them as:
- Piety -Godliness
- Fear of the Lord
In our last lesson we discussed Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. And we said, that simply put, these gifts, as they are called in the Bible, are defined as:
- Knowledge – the facts.
- Understanding – ability to translate meaning from the facts .
- Wisdom – knowing what to do next, given an understanding of the facts and circumstances.
Now Concerning the grace of Counsel: The Hebrew word for counsel is defined, as- To give advice or deliberate opinion to another. To exhort, warn, admonish, or instruct. To recommend.
Understand that everyone is given the seven fold graces at our baptism. But what our confirmation does is enhance certain ones in our lives and it is different for everyone. Romans 12:4-8, says “For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us....” One of those gifts or graces that is mentioned is exhortation, which in Isaiah 11:1-3 otherwise uses the word counsel. What is interesting is that the Greek word for pä-rä'-klā-sēs which is translated exhortation, exhorting, or exorteth, is the same word that Jesus uses when He tells his disciples that “I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter/Paraclete, an Exhorter, a Counselor that he may abide with you for ever.”
To be able to counsel is a Characteristic of the Holy Ghost and is one of the seven-fold gifts or graces given to each and everyone of us at our baptism, and then enhanced in many that are confirmed.
Let me give you some general characteristics that are typically exhibited by those who have the grace of counseling.
A counselors' central motivational drive is to encourage believers to mature in Christ and to grow spiritually. Counselors' often seek to stimulate that development by disciplining, teaching, and exhorting others.
- A counselor regards God’s sovereignty as his “favorite” characteristic of God.
- Counselors regard trials as opportunities for growth. Since God is in control, they recognize that whatever happens, has potential to glorify God and conform believers to the image of Jesus Christ. The counselor sympathizes with the suffering Christian, but he sees the pain through the lens of God’s sovereignty rather than through the lens of suffering. (A person with the gift of mercy, on the other hand, would see the pain through the lens of suffering.)
- Counselors express love through availability.
- Given a choice of helping someone “spiritually” or helping him with a physical need (such as taking a meal to him or mowing his lawn while he’s in the hospital), the Counselor prefers to offer spiritual help. Given a choice of encouraging by empathy or encouraging by counseling, a person with this gift of the seven fold grace will counsel every time.
- Wise counsel flows from the heart of the counselor who can identify precepts and principles in God’s Word skillfully.
- Counselors love to encourage, encourage, encourage!
- Counselors and mercy-givers make a good team for counseling someone who is discouraged. The person with the gift of mercy empathizes—he knows how the downhearted person feels. The counselor exhorts—he knows how the person needs to feel! The counselor’s job is to give hope by sharing a Catholic perspective on the situation and reminding people of God’s power, love, and faithfulness. A counselor avoids weeping with others (as the mercy-giver would weep) because he sees empathy as encouragement to wallow in self-pity. The counselor wants to “move on” past the pain and take advantage of the opportunity to become more Christlike.
- A counselor responds to problems by prescribing specific steps of action; His goal is to make the plan so easy to comprehend that people will understand it, see its potential, embrace it, and grow as a result of carrying it out.
Now Lets Look At A Counselors Strengths
- A counselor uses Scripture, the Church Fathers, and Tradition to validate the experience.
- Counselors are willing and eager to come alongside a brother or sister in Christ during difficult circumstances.
- Memorization of, and meditation on, Scripture are usually very important to the counselor, because he wants to be able to draw wisdom from the well of truth stored in his spirit.
- A counselor sees every little detail, including the timing of every event, as part of God’s good and loving plan.
- Because a counselor sees trials in a positive light, which is opposite of the world’s way of seeing them, a counselor continually reminds people of God’s sovereignty and love.
- Counselors focus on balance; they avoid extremes, especially in doctrine.
- A Counselor seems to be able to give thanks in all seasons and circumstances, including the darkest ones.
- Counselors understand that time reading and time studying the Word of God brings more than information; it brings transformation.
Now Let Us Look At A Counselors Weaknesses
- Counselors tend to need visible evidence of acceptance and affirmation.
- They can easily oversimplify solutions, which ultimately results in discouragement rather than encouragement.
- Surprisingly, Counselors can be poor listeners, even though they make excellent counselors. Sometimes they are so intent on telling you how to view your situation from God’s perspective that they fail to listen to your viewpoint.
- Mature counselors give wise counsel from the Word of God. Therefore, their counsel usually proves to be effective. Unfortunately, their success often tempts counselors to promote principles as formulas, and the formulas as cure-alls.
- Counselors are often naïve and easily manipulated.
- Because a counselor wants so badly for Scripture to provide a successful step of action to eliminate a problem, he may quote Scripture out of context or imply that it says something that it doesn’t mean, rationalizing that the end justifies the means. This is a devastating trap for the counselor.
To keep the weaknesses of the Counselor from affecting his or her gift we must do two things. One, Depend on the one who gave us the grace of Counseling. Depend on the Paraclete - the Holy Ghost, to guide and direct your gift. Always remember that your gift is part of a seven-fold grace given to others in the body of Christ. There must be a balance of those gifts. And that balance happens when we as the Church with diversity of gifts, work together in unity and love for each other.