Friday, May 20, 2011

21 May 2011: The Gift of Fear

God grants two remedies for all our temptations and trials: “Love and fear ... Love will make us quicken our steps, while fear will make us look where we are setting our feet so that we shall not fall.” (St Theresa, “The Way of Perfection”, 40, 1)

Worldly fear (cf MM Philipon, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, Madrid) refers to physical evil or social disadvantages in life. We tend to flee from all earthly inconveniences; or abandon Christ and his Church on fearing fidelity to a Christian way of life can cause any hardship. Then comes ‘human respect’ which spawns countless surrenders and betrayal.

Servile fear is good. For many who are far from God, fear of the punishment of hell can be the first step toward conversion, the beginning of love. (cf Sir 25:12) Although fear should not be the main motive of the Christian, oftentimes, it will be a great defence against temptation and attractions of evil.

“He who fears is not perfected in love” (Jn 4:18) because the true Christian acts through love and is created to love. The holy fear of God, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is what dwelt, with the other gifts, in the most holy Soul of Christ and which also filled the Most Blessed Virgin. It is a consequence of the gift of wisdom and is its outward sign. (St Thomas, “Summa Theologiae”, II-II; 45, 1 and 3)

This filial fear is proper to children who feel protected by their Father whom they do not wish to offend. Its results are twofold: an immense respect for God’s majesty and a great horror of sin. This gift enables holy souls to admit their nothingness before God.

We may repeat as an aspiration St Josemaria Escrivá’s words: “I am worth nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing, I know nothing, I am nothing, nothing at all!” (Quoted by A Vazquez de Prada, “The Founder of Opus Dei”, Madrid) Concurrently, he realized the infinite greatness of knowing oneself and of being a child of God.

The gift of fear inclines us to understand that sin is the root cause of moral evils which divide and ravage society. (John Paul II, “Letter” presenting the “Instrumentum laboris” of the VI Synod of Bishops, 25 January 1983) It leads us also to hate deliberate venial sin; and to vigorously react against the first symptoms of lukewarmness, carelessness or mediocrity.

Love and fear must be our constant companions. “When love banishes fear, fear itself is changed into love.” (St Gregory of Nyssa, “Homily 15”) Then the soul understands better its infinite separation from God and its condition as a child of God. A loss of this holy fear of God weakens or removes the sense of sin. Tepidity sets in; the soul neglects God.

In the Gospel, Christ repeatedly said: “‘Do not fear ... do not be afraid’. ... rather fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Mt 10:28)

“We are called to fortitude at the same time to fear of God, that comes of love, a filial fear. ... only when this fear sinks into our hearts can we be really strong with the strength of the apostles, the martyrs and the confessors.” (John Paul II, “Address to the new Cardinals”, 30 April 1979)

The gift of fear is rooted in humility and like it, has an affinity with the virtue of temperance. We use human goods moderately, secondary to our supernatural end. Sin is often traced to the disordered search for sense pleasures or for material things. Here, this gift is active, purifying and keeping the heart solely for God.

The gift of fear is primarily a struggle against sin. All the other gifts help in this specific mission: the insight bestowed by the gifts of understanding and wisdom about the greatness of God and the true meaning of sin; the gift of counsel maintains one in a relentless battle against evil. (cf MM Philipon, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”, Madrid)

“Love and fear of God! These are two strong castles whence we can wage war on the world and on the devils.” (St Theresa, “The Way of Perfection”, 40, 2)

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize our faults sincerely and feel true sorrow for them. May God make us react: “My eyes shed streams of tears, because men do not keep thy law.” (Ps 118:136)

Ref: Cf F Fernandez, “In Conversation with God”, 2:573-8

` ` ` MAY DEVOTIONS ` ` `

Mary’s Prayer -- “Let us ask the Blessed Virgin to make us contemplatives, to teach us to recognize the constant calls from God at the door of our heart. Let us ask her now: Our Mother, you brought to earth Jesus, who reveals the love of our Father God. Help us to recognize him in the midst of the cares of each day. Stir up our mind and will so that we may listen to the voice of God, to the calls of grace.” (St Josemaria Escrivá, “Christ is passing by”, 174)

Let us offer our Mother: ‘A visit to Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.’

Ref: Fr Charles Belmonte and Fr James Socias (Eds), “Handbook of Prayers”, 1988, p311

The Rosary points the way to perfection

What is Christian life? It is the life of man, enlightened by the knowledge of God, based upon the holy fear of God, upheld by the hope of a reward, and completely vivified by the love of God. Our Blessed Mother, through the Rosary, teaches us to travel and to advance along the path of Christian perfection by unfolding before our eyes pictures of joy, sorrow, and glory.

It is impossible to live without pure and real joy. This reality of internal joy is shown by the Blessed Mother in the joyful mysteries. By meditating on these mysteries, we come to realize that our faith is a source of joy.

We realize moreover that this joy is not subject to events of the external world, but vital and perennial.

Ref: Rev Joseph A Viano, SSP, “Two Months with Mary”, 1984, p54

The Rosary: Weapon for Peace

The Rosary is the wonder weapon. At Lepanto in 1571, it sank ships. In 1955, it removed the Russians from Catholic Austria. In 1962, it prevented the Communist takeover of Brazil. In the 1980’s, it has been documented that the bloodless revolution which removed Ferdinand Marcos from power in the Philippines was largely attributed to the praying of the Rosary.

THE ROSARY IS THE WEAPON THAT CAN BRING PEACE TO THE WORLD. (Our Lady explicitly said this at Fatima.)

Ref: Rev Albert J Shannon, “The POWER of the ROSARY”, 1990, pp39-40

Fruitfulness -- “Rectitude of intention consists in seeking “only and in all things” the glory of God.” (St Josemaria Escrivá, “The Forge”, 921)

Struggle -- “Humility and obedience are the indispensable conditions for acquiring good doctrine.” (St Josemaria Escrivá, “The Forge”, 132)

• Our Lady of Sweat, at Salerno, in Italy. It is said that this Madonna sweated blood and water in the year 1611, as a presage of a great conflagration which happened on the following day. — P. Spinelli, Tractatus de exemplis et miraculis, last chapter. (“Catholic Gems or Treasures of the Church” Historical Calendar;
• Our Lady of Sweat (Salerno, Italy). (maryfest.htm /
• Our Lady of Sweat, Salerno, Italy (1611). (www/; (; (; (
• Our Lady of Vladmir, Russia (1115). (www/; (; (; (
• Our Lady of Vladimir (Russia). (maryfest.htm /

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