Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

What spiritual gift would you most like to give this year and to whom? What would you like to receive?

Growth in wisdom is the spiritual gift I would most like to offer to the people of this region. It is also the one which I would most like to receive. In Catholic theology, wisdom is listed among the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we receive at our baptism. We are given wisdom so that it will actually be our spirit and influence our lives. The Latin word for wisdom is sapientia and it comes from the word sapere meaning "to savor" or "to taste". Through the gift of wisdom, we taste and see that the Lord is good; we are given a taste for the things of God; we can sense the divine in all things.

Wisdom is also understood as being an intellectual virtue that judges things in their highest causes. Practically speaking, the Christian can seek to grow in wisdom by listening to Sacred Scripture. This listening is traditionally called lectio divina and should be grounded in solid, up-to-date Scripture studies as well as the teaching of the Church and the Magesterium.

However, the growth of wisdom is also fostered through our contemplative prayer. The more we pray in this way, the more we abandon the use of our reason with its ideas, concepts and images, thus opening the way for the Holy Spirit to act in us through his gifts, leading us into the fullness of divine wisdom. Thus, wisdom is both speculative and practical. It contemplates the divine truth and then directs our human actions according to that truth. Often called the gift of the Holy Spirit par excellence, it is my prayer that each of us continue to grow in wisdom this Christmas, so that, in savoring the things of God we might bring them to enrich the world in which we live.