Counsel (Gift of Counsel)
- is a kind of spiritual companion and the fruit of the abiding presence of the Spirit
- is flexible and free of preconceived ideas
- invites God to live our daily life with us and in us
- supports being in His presence all of our waking hours
- provides an awareness of the need to modify certain behaviors
- offers practical, concrete suggestions for everyday living
- is not the result of planning or reasoning; it is a peaceful inclination to do or to avoid some action
- may, at times, manifest as three stages: 1) the call to do something that requires great effort 2) failing and feeling humiliated 3) the triumph of grace in the form of peace and interior freedom
The Gift of Counsel is the guidance of the Holy Spirit assisting us in all our decisions, including moment-by-moment experiences. The Gift is a kind of spiritual companion. The Holy Spirit identifies with our daily life and invites us to let Her live it with us or at least, be present.
A pattern emerges as we relate to the Spirit as counselor and we recognize the need to change or modify behaviors. Counsel engages us right where we are and guides our choices subtly and sometimes bluntly.
Inspirations which originate from Counsel are usually practical and concrete, and come across as suggestions rather than commands. Typically, these are about what to do right now. The inspiration may be experienced as a delicate, peaceful attraction. It may also arise as a “take it or leave it” suggestion.
Counsel does not result from reasoning or some comprehensive plan of ours. It suggests how to adjust to circumstances that are unusual or changing.
The Gift of Counsel suggests the kind of cooperation we should offer to God. It also suggests when our efforts are no longer useful, and we should rest in God. Thus, when something comes up like an afflictive emotion, notice it, consent to its unwanted presence, and then give it to God.
We need to be alert to maintain interior silence both in prayer and in action in order to develop sensitivity to listening and responding to Counsel. Once established, we normally need to take action only when we notice a loss of interior peace, which is the signal that we are off course and slipping away from union with God’s will.
To always be open to the Spirit, avoid dwelling on opposition, negativity and failure. Human effort, failure, and the triumph of grace are a regular pattern of the Spirit’s action. The experience of failure in ministry teaches us how to do it, which is to fail with complete submission to God and trust Him. Then to our surprise, everything calms down and works, at least for a while. But just when everything is going smoothly, the Spirit may see a new problem to work on, and we are off on another adventure of faith.
Counsel is most often a peaceful, practical inclination to some practical action. Rarely, it is a comprehensive plan of action.
How might you cooperate more with God? How does it feel to rest in God? In what ways might you be experiencing the Spirit’s guidance? How do you recognize when you are off course? What is the signal?
Learn to fail with peace and loving dependence on God. When counsel is needed, look for a delicate, practical, and concrete inspiration like a suggestion. Let God in.