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Fasting and the Gift of Wisdom

The mouth of the just murmurs wisdom. Psalm 37

Fasting and prayer help to perfect our hearts and souls. When we fast, we invite the Holy Spirit in to our hearts and souls, so we will be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit “complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.” (CCC 1831)  Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.

What does it mean to have the gift of wisdom?

Wisdom is the perfection of faith. As Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., noted in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, “Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves.” The better we understand those truths, the more we value them properly. Thus wisdom, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “by detaching us from the world, makes us relish and love only the things of heaven.” Through wisdom, we judge the things of the world in light of the highest end of man—the contemplation of God.

The regular practice of fasting helps us with the gift of Wisdom. With fasting, we have a new mind and a new heart.  We can have more clarity for the direction our lives should be going. By adding fasting to our prayer routine, our pride is diminished and our humility is increased.

Most of us are familiar with the biblical story of King Solomon and how he was able to determine who was the true mother of the baby.  He was filled with the gift of wisdom.

A more recent example of a saint with wisdom is St. John Paul II, who coincidentally, was also a proponent of the regular practice of fasting.  He wrote this beautiful prayer:

Holy Spirit and Seat of Wisdom
help us in the great endeavor that we are carrying out
to meet on a more and more mature way
our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Through all the means of knowledge, of mutual respect, of love,
may we be able to rediscover gradually the divine plan.
Teach us constantly the ways that lead to unity.
Help us all to proclaim Christ and reveal the power of God
and the wisdom of God hidden in His Cross.
How greatly I desire to entrust to You
all the difficult problems of the societies, systems, and states—
problems that cannot be solved with hatred, war, and self-destruction,
but only by peace, justice, and respect for the rights of people and nations.
from Go in Peace: A Gift of Enduring Love by John Paul II, edited by Joseph Durepos

Today, let us fast and pray for all the community intentions, for suffering souls all over the world and for an increase in wisdom and faith as we approach the holy season of Lent.

Holy Mary, pray for us!  Holy Spirit, teach us to pray! St. John Paul II, pray for us!


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