Dom Gueranger on the Gift of Fear September 7, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Liturgical Year, reading, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Holy Fear is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost imparted during Confirmation. It is a Gift that can be open to misinterpretation, perhaps, but even more, it is prone to be ignored. In recent Church history, fear of the Lord has been not just ignored, but frequently mocked and ridiculed as a sign of “an immature faith” or some other meaningless barb. That’s been one of the primary reasons for the crisis in, or collapse of, the Faith in these past several decades – a lack of fear of God, as human pride is heaped up in before unheard of heights.
I found this to be good catechesis on the subject, from The Liturgical Year Volume 9 pp. 333-5:
Pride is the obstacle to man’s virtue and well-being. It is pride that leads us to resist God, to make self our last end, in a word, to work our own ruin. Humility alone can save us from this terrible danger. Who will give us humility? The Holy Ghost; and this by infusing into us the gift of the fear of God. [Bing, bang, great, straight to the point]
This holy sentiment is based on the following truths, which are taught us by faith: the sovereign majesty of God, in comparison with whom we are mere nothingness; the infinite sanctity of that God, in whose presence we are but unworthiness and sin; the severe and just judgment we are to go through after death; the danger of falling into sin, which may be our misfortune at any time, if we do not correspond to grace, for although grace be never wanting, yet we have it in our power to resist it.
Man, as the apostle tells us, must work out his salvation with fear and trembling (Phil ii:12); but this fear, which is a gift of the Holy Ghost, is not the base sentiment which goes no further than the dread of eternal punishments. It keeps alive within us an compunction of heart, even though we hope that our sins have long ago been forgiven. It prevents our forgetting that we are sinners, that we are wholly dependent upon God’s mercy, and that we are not as yet safe, except in hope. [And it keeps us from reveling in a false pride that says we’re saved no matter what we do, a la protestants and Church “liberals,” or a pharisaical pride that thinks our actions are somehow sufficient for our salvation. Both are just as wrong]
The fear of God, therefore, is not a servile fear; on the contrary, it is the source of the noblest sentiments. Inasmuch as it is a filial dread of offending God by sin, it may go hand-in-hand with love. Arising as it does from a reverence for God’s infinite majesty and holiness, it puts the creature in his right place, and, as St. Paul says, it contributes to the perfecting of sanctification (II Cor vii:1). Hence this great apostle, who had been rapt up to the third heaven, assures us that he was severe in his treatment of himself, lest he should become a castaway.
The spirit of independence and of false liberty, which is nowadays so rife amongst us, is a great enemy to the fear of God; and one of the miseries of our age is, that there is little fear of God. Familiarity with God but too frequently usurps the place of that essential basis of the Christian life. The result is, that there is no progress in virtue, such people are a prey to illusion; and the Sacraments, which previously worked so powerfully in their souls, are now well-nigh unproductive. The reason is, that the gift of fear has been superseded by a conceited self-complacency. Humility has no further sway; a secret and habitual pride has paralyzed the soul; and seeing that these people scoff at the idea of their ever trembling before the God of Heaven, we may well ask them if they know who God is……….
……..This holy fear does not stifle the sentiment of love; on the contrary, it removes what would be a hindrance to its growth. [Another lie we hear today, that if we have a proper fear of the Lord, we are weak in love or faith. What evil, manipulative claptrap!] The heavenly Powers see an ardently love their God, their infinite and eternal good; and, yet, they tremble before His dread Majesty……..And shall we, covered as we are with the wounds of our sins, disfigured by countless imperfections, exposed on every side to snares, obliged to fight with so many enemies – shall we flatter ourselves that we can do without this strong and filial fear?
Yes, indeed. The wisdom of the ages, but such wisdom has been judged unhelpful to a “modern,” “mature” faith -meaning a different faith. I don’t mean to be overly repetitive, I know I say this a lot, but I just had a reminder this weekend of how easy it is for folks to unlearn what they have learned and slip back into easy things, comfortable things, maybe things they have been manipulated into a bit, but which they know – or knew at one time – are wrong. That’s a major reason why I warn frequently about the influences we allowed ourselves to be exposed to, even if it be in the parish down the road.