Tuesday 27th June 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.

Hey Democrats: You Might Win More Elections If You’d Stop Killing Your Voters in the Womb

Democrats keep puzzling about why they are losing so many elections, but they do not seem to want to hear the answer that so many people are giving: abortion. Pro-life advocates — Republican, Democrat, independent and otherwise – have been…Continue Reading

Only Pope Francis can end the ‘apostasy’ his words have caused: Italian monsignor

ROME, Italy, June 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis could stem the “confusion and apostasy” now rampant in the Church among priests and bishops by “correcting” his own “ambiguous and erroneous words and acts,” said an Italian monsignor and former…Continue Reading

New Pontifical Academy of Life Appointee Supports Euthanasia by Starvation

An ethics study group for the Italian Jesuit magazine Aggiornamenti Sociali, headed by Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a theologian of the Northern Italian Theological Faculty of Milan, has joined Italian…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood wants to have a center in Reading High School; you can help stop it

ACTION: Planned Parenthood does not belong in our schools. Contact the Reading School Board at this link. Planned Parenthood is anything but helpful for teenagers, with all the ways the abortion giant has corrupted and confused them through explicit sexual advice,…Continue Reading

Fireworks at U.S. Bishops’ meeting as Francis-appointed Cardinals oppose permanent religious liberty committee

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted 132 to 53 today to approve the establishment of a permanent Standing Committee for Religious Liberty. Five bishops abstained from voting. The USCCB formed the Ad Hoc…Continue Reading

What can priests practically do to combat the porn epidemic?

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2017 / 02:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Online pornography is one of the fastest growing addictions in the United States, on par with cocaine and gambling. Once confined to the pages of a smuggled Playboy magazine, pornography…Continue Reading

Catholic community offers prayer, supplies for London fire victims

London, England, Jun 14, 2017 / 01:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of Westminster offered their prayers and local parishes opened their doors to offer aid and supplies to those affected by a massive fire at an apartment complex…Continue Reading

Ohio tries again to ban abortions after heartbeat begins

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – On Tuesday, two Ohio representatives reintroduced legislation protecting babies with detectable heartbeats from abortion. Last year, Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed the measure when it came to his desk. The human heart begins…Continue Reading

Abortion clinic loses fight to silence LifeSite, but plans emergency appeal

TORONTO, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSiteNews won a victory in court today by successfully opposing a publication ban on the identities of abortionists targeting a pro-life activist. But the legal battle continues as the Crown in Ontario has signalled…Continue Reading

Incredible Story . . . Winner of ‘Romania’s Got Talent’ is a 14-year-old girl without arms and femurs

June 6, 2017 (Family News) — When she first showed up in front of the cameras at the live show, with her serene sweet face, she looked as a much smaller child. She is a short person because her legs…Continue Reading

Bring Back Christendom

By now you may have come across the controversy spun up over the weekend when Rep. Clay Higgins, the new congressman from Louisiana’s 3rd District, sent an outraged reaction to the London Bridge jihadist attacks over Facebook. The bulk of…Continue Reading

The Organization Every Parent Needs to Know About

Did you know there’s an organization of pediatricians and other child health professionals whose policies likely support your values as Catholic parents and grandparents? The American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics) actually…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 . . .

New documentary challenges the secrecy and denial surrounding abortion

“HUSH”, a film about abortion and women’s health, is a professional, persuasive piece of investigative journalism, fronted by Punam Kumar Gill, who manages to combine a dogged determination to break the silence surrounding abortion with a sensitivity borne out of her own personal experience of loss. Abortion advocates claim to be very keen on talking about abortion. They want women to shout out their abortions, to express pride and joy in a procedure they increasingly…Continue Reading

James Martin Blasts Bishop Thomas Paprocki

On June 12, 2017, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, issued a Decree “Regarding Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues.” The Decree reaffirmed Catholic teaching that a marital union is only possible “between one man and one woman.” The Decree included the following directives: No member of the clergy or representative of the Diocese should assist or participate in a same-sex marriage; No Church property should be used to host same-sex…Continue Reading

Why Cardinal Sarah terrifies his critics

A growing crowd wants Cardinal Robert Sarah’s head on a platter. Open a liberal Catholic periodical and you are likely to find a call for the dismissal of the Guinean cardinal who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship: “It’s past time for [Pope Francis] to replace Cardinal Sarah” (Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter); “New wine might be needed at the Congregation for Divine Worship” (Christopher Lamb, the Tablet); “Curia officials who refuse to get with…Continue Reading

Illinois Catholic bishop decrees no Holy Communion, funerals for same-sex couples

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., is calling on priests there to deny Holy Communion and even funeral rites to people in same-sex unions unless they show “some signs of repentance” for their relationships before death. The decree by Bishop Thomas Paprocki also said that people “living publicly” in same-sex marriages may not receive the sacrament of confirmation or be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process by w

Trump’s Nationalism Is Consistent With Catholic Social Doctrine

Leading American bishops have complained about the “harshness” of Trump’s campaign rhetoric and called for an end to deportation of aliens until the “broken” system can be fixed. Yet, despite this opposition from the Church’s hierarchy, Trump won 52% of the Catholic vote (to Hillary’s 45%), a historic margin for a Republican. How to explain this contradiction? Real simple. The laity get it better than the bishops. Trump’s nationalism is fully consistent with Catholic social…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Restoring The Sacred… St. Thomas More And The Defense Of Truth

By JAMES MONTI As Catholics in America participate in the annual Fortnight for Freedom to pray for the protection of religious liberty, the example of St. Thomas More will again be invoked as in years past, with the liturgical commemoration of his martyrdom on June 22 coming only a day after the beginning of the…Continue Reading

St. Teresa Of Calcutta… Hope For A Beleaguered World

By DONALD DeMARCO “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing, direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have curved…Continue Reading

Our Lady Of Fatima: The May Apparition

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) + + + 1917 was a tumultuous year that would forever change the face of the world. The…Continue Reading

Atheist Christian Haters Win In Court

NEW YORK — Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented June 20 on a First Amendment case that dealt a blow to religious liberty. The full text follows: + + + For 75 years, Bayview Park, in a Pensacola, Fla., neighborhood, has been home to a large cross. The 1941 wooden cross, erected by a New…Continue Reading

A Long History Of Leftist Hatred

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., who aspired to end his life as a mass murderer of Republican congressmen, was a Donald Trump hater and a Bernie Sanders backer. Like many before him, Hodgkinson was a malevolent man of the hating and hard left. His planned atrocity failed because two Capitol…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… The Tridentine Mass Grows In Appeal

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A recent appeal from a high-ranking enlisted member of the military for acceptance of exclusively Traditional priests, such as from the Fraternity of St. Peter, to serve as military chaplains was met with rejection. The subsequent headlines characterized the exchange as “Better No Chaplains Than Traditional Ones.” This reaction unfairly analyzes the practical effect of…Continue Reading

Our Savior And Redeemer… The Ascension And Pentecost

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Those people who believe in the Lutheran myth of “sola Scriptura” have a big problem to solve. They cannot explain the fact that Jesus spent forty days with His apostles, teaching them, reminding them of what He had taught them before, and preparing them for their mission, but there is absolutely nothing written in the…Continue Reading

Acts Of The Penitent — Contrition

By DON FIER As we briefly surveyed the history of the sacrament of Penance last week, we saw that significant changes in its outward form took place over the course of the centuries. In her first years, the Church experienced remarkable growth despite facing great persecution — it was a time of many martyrs. “The early Christians,” explains Dr. Alan…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I have heard it said that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance. Is that true and, if so, what are the others? — T.S., Arizona. A. In Holy Scripture there are four sins in this category, so called because in each case the victims of these sins cried out to the…Continue Reading

Whoever Receives You Receives Me

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a Romans 6:3-4, 8-12 Matt. 10:37-42 In the readings today we hear about our own dignity as Christian persons and also about the way we, as Christian people, are to treat others. We look first at the point of our own dignity. In the second…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Peter To Rot

By CAROLE BRESLIN Papua New Guinea is an island nation about 175 miles north of Queensland, Australia. The capital, Rabaul, is on the eastern tip of a smaller New Guinea island that sits just east of the main island. It is an island with a dark history of witchcraft, cannibalism, and violence against women. Into this bleak place, the light…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the history of the Church saints have commonly lived at the same time and worked together for the Kingdom of God. Pope St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John of Avila (of the Cross) and St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori and Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli. Blessed Gennaro was…Continue Reading