Thursday 23rd February 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Gifts Of The Holy Spirit — Fear Of The Lord

December 31, 2016 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

In one of her liturgical prayers, the Church intimates why piety, the gift of the Holy Spirit we examined last week, is so essential to our spiritual life: “Lord, holy Father, . . . although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profit us for salvation, through Christ our Lord” (Roman Missal, Preface IV, Weekday Mass).
As this prayer acknowledges, it is not possible for us, on our own, to fittingly venerate God with the honor and reverence He deserves. To assist us, we need the special gift of piety from the Holy Spirit, given initially in Baptism and later strengthened in Confirmation, to enable us to offer homage to our heavenly Father in a true spirit of sonship.
The gift of piety, which perfects the cardinal virtue of justice, fosters in us a filial respect for God as not only our Creator and Sustainer, but as our loving Father. It imbues within those in whom it is operative a generous and childlike love that seeks to please Him in all ways, even if suffering and sacrifice is required — and to do so willingly and joyfully.
It also fosters a loving fraternal attitude toward our neighbors as brothers and sisters in Christ. As expressed by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, the gift of piety “makes us look upon…our fellow men not as competitors in the struggle of life but coequals under God as our common Maker and brothers in Christ through the saving merits of his passion” (The Catholic Catechism, p. 204).
The gift of piety was manifested profoundly in both our Lady and her kinswoman Elizabeth in the biblical account of the Visitation. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Mary “arose and went with haste into the hill country” (Luke 1:39) to assist her elderly relative in an act of fraternal charity, even though she herself was with child. The Blessed Virgin, moreover, can be seen to exercise piety chiefly by bringing the Son of God to Elizabeth.
In turn, the mother-to-be of St. John the Baptist, through a movement of the Holy Spirit, recognizes and piously acknowledges the great favor bestowed upon her: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43).
Our Lord Himself, of course, is the consummate model of the gift of piety. His filial and prayerful attitude toward His heavenly Father is recorded throughout the New Testament, strikingly so in the opening two words of the prayer He taught His disciples: “Our Father.”
It is perhaps most vibrantly shown in His invocation to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane in the midst of exceedingly intense interior suffering: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). We, too, are called to enter into this filial sense of Jesus’ love for the Father.
We now come to the consideration of the last of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in chapter 11 of the Book of Isaiah, fear of the Lord. Like piety, to which it is closely related, fear of the Lord belongs to the faculty of the will. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, although last in the order of excellence among the gifts, it is first in the order of need:
“Fear,” says the Angelic Doctor, “is chiefly required as being the foundation of the perfection of the other gifts” (Summa Theologiae [STh] I-II, Q. 68, art. 7, ad 1). This is confirmed multiple times in Sacred Scripture: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Prov. 9:10; cf. Sirach 21:11). “By the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil” (Prov. 16:6). “The fear of the Lord leads to life; and he who has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm” (Prov. 19:23).
Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP, defines the gift of fear of the Lord as “a supernatural habit by which the just soul, under the instinct of the Holy Spirit, acquires a special docility for subjecting itself completely to the divine will out of reverence for the excellency and majesty of God” (Spiritual Theology [SpT], p. 262).
As Fr. Hardon expounds, it “inclines the will to filial respect for God, keeps us from sin because it displeases God, profoundly humbles us before Him, and makes us hope in His powerful assistance” (Basic Catholic Catechism Course [BCCC], p. 131). It perfects the theological virtue of hope and the cardinal virtue of temperance at one and the same time.
Let us examine the various forms of fear we experience in everyday life and how, if at all, each corresponds to “fear of the Lord.” St. Thomas defines four types: worldly, servile, initial, and filial. To preface this discussion, it is important to recognize that “God in himself, as supreme and infinite goodness, cannot be an object of fear; he is an object of love. But so far as he is able to punish us for our sins, he can and ought to be feared” (SpT, p. 262).
The first type is worldly or mundane fear, where one fears the loss of a temporal good (e.g., wealth, power, honor, pleasure, etc.) more than offending God. It corresponds to a false love “whereby a man trusts in the world as his end” (STh II-II, Q. 19, art. 4). Its object is so ignoble that, according to both St. Thomas and St. Augustine, it is always evil. An infamous example, one that we recall each time we recite the Apostles’ Creed, is the worldly fear of Pilate who condemned Divine Innocence to an ignominious death in order to remain a friend of Caesar.
The second type, servile fear, although far superior to worldly fear, remains lacking in that its motive is a selfish one: Sin is avoided not out of love of God, but because of the dread of punishment. Although an imperfect form of fear that may be present even in the absence of sanctifying grace, it is substantially good in that it can lead one to repentance and to the Sacrament of Confession where an imperfect act of contrition is sufficient for forgiveness.
Next is initial fear, which represents the beginning of true fear of the Lord. The soul now experiences, so to speak, a mixture of fear of punishment and fear of committing an offense against an all-good, all-loving God. Although the sense of a fear of punishment remains, growth in charity has moved the person closer to a relationship of filial love of God. St. Thomas teaches that initial fear occupies an intermediate state between servile fear and the selfless fear that corresponds to the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. STh II-II, Q. 19, art. 2).
The fourth type of fear, filial or reverential fear, is the good and perfect fear for which the Christian should aspire. Punishment and the fear of Hell are no longer concerns; one “serves God and fulfills his divine will, fleeing from sin because it is an offense against God and for fear of being separated from him” (SpT, p. 263), even if physical death is the consequence.
Inspirational examples of fear of the Lord in operation were put before us in recent lenten readings: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego submitted to being cast into a white-hot furnace rather than worship the golden idol of King Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 3:8-18); Susanna overcame fear of bodily death rather than submit to the carnal intentions of two wicked elders (see Daniel 13:1-62).

Hope And Temperance

As indicated earlier, fear of the Lord perfects the virtues of hope and temperance. Hope is “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1817).
It logically follows that as we grow in filial fear, our confidence that God will enable us to share everlasting life with Him in Heaven increases. “Filial fear and hope cling together and perfect one another,” says St. Thomas. “We fear not that we may fail of what we hope to obtain by God’s help, but lest we withdraw ourselves from this help” (STh II-II, Q. 9, art. 1, ad 1).
Temperance, on the other hand, is the moral virtue which “moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable” (CCC, n. 1809). The gift of fear of the Lord “perfects and promotes the virtue of temperance,” explains Fr. Hardon, “because, not wanting to displease God and longing to be united with Him, we detach ourselves from false loves of the world and flee those amusements and material satisfactions which could make us lose God” (BCCC, p. 131).
Fear of the Lord, according to St. Thomas, corresponds to the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). It is through holy fear of the Lord that we are able to detach our hearts from the riches, pleasures, and honors of the world, to grow in humility, and to place all our trust in God.
Liberated from the self-exaltation of pride, fear of the Lord leads us to seek God alone; in doing so, we become supernaturally rich and able to inherit eternal beatitude.

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Conference Looks Beyond ‘Crisis’ of Catholic Colleges, Debunks ‘Land O’ Lakes Statement’

The day after an historic and widely-covered March for Life, presidents from four Newman Guide colleges and Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly presented on the future of Catholic higher education at the “CRISIS: Catholic Higher Education and the Next…Continue Reading

Top Restaurants Will Sell Cookies to Raise Money for Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A handful of Chicago restaurants are baking cookies and selling them through Feb. 24, with the proceeds benefitting the abortion group Planned Parenthood, the Chicago Eater reported.

Roman Catholic Church of Philippines Criticizes Duterte’s Bloody Drug War

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in a sermon read out during Sunday’s services, marking its strongest opposition yet to a flagship policy that has led to the deaths of more…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke urges massive U.S. crowd to defend faith amid Church confusion

cburk12

LENEXA, Kansas, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The façade of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a boogeyman of tradition projected by his critics and the media was nowhere to be found last Friday when he gave his usual clear witness to the Catholic faith before an overflow crowd in the Kansas City area. Cardinal Burke delivered a stirring, clear message on defending the Catholic faith amid the current confusion in the Church that was embraced with…Continue Reading

Again More Questions than Answers . . . MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO

Dear Brothers and Sisters, First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all…Continue Reading

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s “eleventh hour” HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions. Title X money comes from the government to fund “family planning services,” but technically not abortion. Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X

Culture Of Life 101… The History Of Future Dreams

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the complete series on artificial reproduction, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “In the year 6565, ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need your wife, you’ll pick your son,…Continue Reading

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Reopening The Question Of Women Priests… A Theological Travesty And A Spiritual Tragedy

By JEFFREY MIRUS (Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. This commentary first appeared on CatholicCulture.org, and LifeSiteNews featured it on February 13. All rights reserved.) + + + La…Continue Reading

Even As “Assisted Suicide” Looms . . . Ethics Expert Tells How Roe V. Wade Might Be Reversed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “If you want to see what a Roe v. Wade reversal looks like, read Washington v. Glucksberg,” a national expert on medical ethics and the law told a Catholic physicians’ meeting here while he also warned against an accelerating effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in the states. With speculation rising…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… Silence As An Expression Of The Sacred

By JAME MONTI In a recent interview concerning his new book, The Power of Silence, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah observed, “Before God’s majesty, we lose our words” (Catholic World Report, October 3, 2016). Silence is man’s humble reply to the glory and transcendence of His Creator, a reply that even the high and mighty…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Joy And Dismay . . . Greet Cardinal Tong’s Article On China-Holy See Dialogue

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: In the article below, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera evaluates the optimism of Hong Kong’s John Cardinal Tong over a change in the method of appointing China’s bishops and the function of the Patriotic Association. But it is unclear whether it is real change or just nominal — in words only. (Fr. Cervellera notes that underground…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 25 Haven’t you met Catholic people who question the gravity of Adam’s sin? They do believe that all humans stem from a single couple, yes, but they find it hard to accept that stealing an apple is such a big deal. Surely God could not be that much offended by that! Such people argue…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER As narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. Jesus and His apostles had just traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Passover in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent reply about the failure of Jesuit colleges and universities to uphold Catholic morality, the Cardinal Newman Society has reported that most members of Congress who graduated from Catholic institutions have pro-abortion voting records. Of the 56 Jesuit college alumni who hold seats in the new Congress, said Matt Archbold of the Cardinal Newman…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading