Last week we talked a little about Understanding and Lent. This week I want to dig into this a little more. When we consider the word “understanding” we can think of it in two ways, the secular psychological definition or a spiritual one. The psychological one focuses on our “mind-view” of the word, as illustrated below from Wikipedia:

Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object. Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge that are sufficient to support intelligent behavior.

However, our spiritual definition is rooted in the heart. The second of our Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Understanding is clearly defined in Daniel 2:22-22

“It is he who controls the procession of times and seasons, who makes and unmakes kings, who confers wisdom on the wise, and knowledge on those with discernment, who uncovers depths and mysteries, who knows what lies in darkness; and light dwells with him.”

Understanding, therefore, is the pure gift of God and touches our hearts so we can better integrate our personal closeness to Christ, as the Word Becomes Flesh (Jn 1:14). This closeness is a mysterious gift which allows us to bring Christ into our decision-making process, as the spirit of the Lord rests on us. Pope Francis notes “understanding dwells in the heart and enlightens the mind”, reminding us that the gift emanates from our heart, which God resides and illumines our thinking, behavior and decision making.

The Holy Spirit gives us this gift where God sits centrally in our hearts and minds, and should be the core of our thoughts and actions. This allows the understanding of our heart to meet the observations of the mind. In an ideal world, we can use some guidelines to mine this gift of the Holy Spirit. I try and use the following to help remind me when I get off course on this front.

• Involve God in the decision-making process.

• Reflect on our decisions and reactions

• Select a loving response as the output channel for our response to others


Perhaps this week you can explore this gift and how it plays out in your life? Do we really involve God in our reactions to others? Or do we judge too quickly in our responses?

I wrote the reflection below some time ago to remind myself of how useful a short reflection can be in increasing the potential for God to be involved in my decisions. Happy Lent everyone!


Add ten seconds to each moment,

And my response would be better,

kinder, warmer, more forgiving,

than my first.

But can I ever be as loving as He is to me?

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