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An elderly woman becomes emotional as Pope Francis greets her as he arrives for his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 7. Members of the pope's security lifted the woman in her wheelchair so she could meet the pontiff.

Vatican City

Pope: Holy Spirit sends ‘counsel’ through people of faith, prayers

By CAROL GLATZ, Catholic News Service | Published May 15, 2014

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Never forget to pray, even while commuting, taking a walk or waiting in line, Pope Francis said. And don’t just stick to prayers memorized from childhood, but include heartfelt requests and pleas for help, advice and guidance, he said.

During his general audience May 7, the pope continued a series of talks on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

Looking at the gift of counsel, Pope Francis said people know how important it is to go to the right person—to “people who are wise and who love us”—to get the best advice, especially concerning “thorny” situations.

Through the Holy Spirit, God is there to enlighten people’s hearts and “help us understand the right things to say, the right way to act and the right road to take” when it comes to an important decision, the pope said.

By opening one’s heart to God, “the Holy Spirit immediately begins to help us perceive his voice and guide our thoughts, our feelings and our intentions” to be in harmony with God’s will.

The Holy Spirit helps people to grow in the virtues, to stop being “at the mercy of egoism” and to see the world and its difficulties with “the eyes of Christ,” he said.

The Holy Spirit “enables our conscience to be able to make a concrete choice that’s in communion with God, and according to the logic of Jesus and his Gospel.”

But how can people make sure God is the one speaking to them and not their own biases, fears, limitations and ambitions? he asked.

The right counsel comes through prayer, he said.

“We have to give room to the Holy Spirit so that he can counsel us. And giving him room means praying, praying that he come and always help us.”

Don’t just recite prayers “but also pray with our own words, pray to the Lord: ‘Lord, help me, advise me, help me right now, let me know what we should do.’”

This gift of counsel can also come through other men and women of faith, he said.

Before he was pope, when he was hearing confessions in Argentina, the pope said, a man came who had been going through something very serious and had asked his mother for help.

“That humble, simple woman gave her son the best advice that was spot-on,” the pope said, because she told her son to turn to Mary, who would tell him what to do.

The mother “had the gift of counsel,” he said, because she didn’t try to steer him with her own opinions, but pointed him in “the right direction.”

The man explained how he had prayed to Our Lady, who told him exactly what to do. “I didn’t have to say a word,” the pope said. “It was all the mother, Our Lady and the boy. This is the gift of counsel.”