“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor 1:25)
Two months before she died from tuberculosis, one of the nuns in her community said to the 24-year-old Sr. Therese of Lisieux, “you are a saint.” In response, Therese pointed to the tops of the trees in the garden of the convent which were illuminated by the light of the setting sun and said: “My soul appears to you to be all brilliant and golden because it is exposed to the rays of love. If the Divine Sun stopped sending me His fire, I would immediately become dark and full of shadows.” Therese’s insight reveals a soul that enjoyed the supernatural Gift of Wisdom.
The Holy Spirit’s gift of Wisdom is the ability to see the world and ourselves as God sees it. Life in the world can be kind of like a labyrinth. You’re trying to make your way to the end, but it’s hard because your perspective is narrow and you can only see a small fraction of your surroundings. When you’re trying to navigate a maze with other people, there can be discord among the members of the group over the best way to make it out as you hit one dead end after another. And sometimes when you feel really lost you might wonder if there even is a way out of the labyrinth, and that maybe the labyrinth is all there is. If life in the world is like a big labyrinth, Wisdom is what gives us a birds-eye perspective on the whole of the maze. Wisdom enables us to see the world, and all the things and people in it, under the light of God’s plan for us. It helps us to see the way through more clearly and make our way with greater confidence in God’s goodness and charity towards those with whom we make the journey.
Those around her recognized the sanctity of St. Therese. Perhaps, in their admiration for her, they thought her holiness made her less in need of the mercy of God. What Therese recognized, the insight she wished to share with the other nun in their exchange, was that her sanctity itself was a mercy shown to her by God. She knew that without this gift, she, like the tree touched by the sun, would have been filled with darkness. This supernatural Wisdom protected Therese from claiming ownership of her holiness, which might have led her to haughtiness and a sense that she was better than her sisters in the convent. Instead, she was filled with charity and love for her Carmelite sisters, even the crankiest and most difficult ones, certain that the Lord had blessed her so abundantly precisely because she was the least among the community and the most in need of His mercy. Wisdom also helped her to persevere through the terrible sufferings, both physical and spiritual, she experienced at the end of her life. Despite the agony of her illness and the harrowing feeling of the total absence of God, she persevered in faith. With the help of the Holy Spirit, she was able to see her suffering as a sign of His love for her and a special participation in His own suffering for the salvation of souls. Such is the wisdom of the saints.
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, and power, and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Show me the way by which I may be able to attain to them and possess them, and hold them hereafter, my own forever. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, etc.