The Gift of Understanding enlightens the mind with the light of God’s truth. This gift from the Holy Spirit enables the soul to grasp the meaning of truths, particularly truths of religion. Faith helps us to know these truths, but it is the Gift of Understanding that helps us to learn and appreciate them. Through a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation we are better able to merit our eternal reward. This gift inspires the testimony of a lively faith where we begin to walk worthily with God in all things and are more pleasing to Him.
However, we must journey to God through mortification of the appetites. Our sight is not always fixed on God and is often attached to things, ideas, and concepts of an earthly nature that take us on a path far from God. St. John teaches that without this mortification there is no transformation in God and the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit will not bear fruit. Jesus also instructed us, his disciples, this way, “everyone of you who does not renounce all his possession cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:33). St. John of the Cross affirms this statement: “for the doctrine the Son of Man came to teach is contempt for all things so we may receive the gift of God’s Spirit. As long as people fail to rid themselves of these possessions, they are incapable of receiving God’s Spirit in pure transformation.” (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk 1: 5, 2)
“If you purify your soul of attachments and desires, you will understand things spiritually. If you deny your appetite for them, you will enjoy their truth, understanding what is certain in them.” (Sayings of Light and Love # 49, St. John of the Cross)
The Gift of Understanding gives us clear vision.