“Fear of the Lord”…. Why?
Romans 13: 2 “Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
Acts.20: 28 “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you [My Apostles] overseers, to care for the church of God [SINGULAR] which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.”
Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock. And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.”
2 Tim. 4
: 1-4 ”I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.”
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit & The Manifestation of Sanctifying Grace
By Scott P. Richert,
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3. They are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ but are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace. We receive them when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God within us—as, for example, when we receive a sacrament worthily. As the current Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, “They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.” Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.
Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time understanding (no pun intended) how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith.
Counsel, the third gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.
While counsel is the perfection of a cardinal virtue, fortitude is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a cardinal virtue. Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.
The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Catholic Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Like counsel, it is aimed at our actions in this life. In a limited way, knowledge allows us to see the circumstances of our life the way that God sees them. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God’s purpose for our lives and live them accordingly.
Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.
The seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord, and perhaps no other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the
theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love. END OF QUOTE
This, the “final Gift” of the Holy Spirit, may appear a bit strange to some. Especially in that it is termed “a gift” which is correctly applied to it. The reason for our trepidation was made more clear to me today as I listened to the homily on EWTN’S daily Mass.
The topic of Catholism being “dominion” or “domination” was introduced as was this statement from Saint Gregory [540 AD to 604 AD]. “ The Practice of the Christian Faith ought to reflect the Nature of God.” The term “Christian “ rather than “Catholic” is used here as the Protestant revolution is still nearly one thousand years in the future. This well articulated message leaves no room for self interpretation. And it’s correct application being put aside applies not only to the myriad of competing “Christian” Faiths; but even more disconcerting to me [and many others], is the fact that at- least half of the people who call themselves “Catholic”; live their lives as if God does not even exist and are by their life choice, in opposition to it. I am appalled that election after election; 50% or more self professed “Catholics” assume and usurp a right clearly, and logically not granted to them, and support agendas of abortion, marriage alterations, and Gay rights; assuming selfish choices, somehow can take precedence over the Church’s and therefore, God’s Moral teachings.
God DID NOT DIE and make “me” judge
. Still the fact that something is extremely wrong in the catechesis of BOTH Protestant Christians [whom I assume have a similar problem], and we Catholics is so evident that it cannot be denied, nor should it be ignored. Huge numbers of Abortions and Divorce alone support this position.
These two brief discussions brought to mind just how far Christianity and Catholism is Morally off track in America, and not accepting of God’s warning AND this gift of the Holy Spirit, for ones own spiritual benefit. Many lack awareness and a correct understanding [thus this document], while others deny, or simply ignore it as likely not having application to oneself. This seem to be high-risk position in the light of Christ absolutely necessary Divine Justice.
There was a time [many years ago] when, if asked I would have thought the problem to be primarily in the Protestant communions. Only in the past twelve years or so have I come to accept that it at least as big of a problem in the Catholic Church as anywhere else.
I personally find it difficult to ponder “Fear of the Lord” without tying it to “Awe and Wonder of God.” … Here’s why.
Virtue is the goodness and purity of a person: example: The virtuous man remained true to his word. Wonder is when something amazed you, or is too great to envision before it happens: example:. We could say that rain is a wonder, since we would not even imaging a cloud to collide with another, and release a flood of water sucked up from the world’s oceans, would we? Awe is when we are lost for words, dumbfounded by the power, and wonder, of an occurrence or thing: example: A lunar scientist might be struck with awe when he first sees an eclipse, since it would be like nothing he had ever seen before”
To me personally, “Fear of the Lord” can best be understood with it’s multiple meanings; in the reflected light of “Awe” and “Wonder” of God. To not do seems to me to lead most directly to the idea of “A vengeful God,” which many hold as true, based on the Old Testament and Yahweh’s often swift retribution for false god’s, denial of Him, and His Covenants and decrees. This is a seriously wrong, and morally impossible definition of God, a God WHO MUST BE Good in order to “be God.” END QUOTE
The Divine and necessary Justice of God not rightly understood is based NOT only on what is known or accepted by us; but rather on all that God has made possible for one to know, which is a second indicator of a incorrect or at least incomplete understanding of Divine Justice, and its right relation to “Fear of the Lord.”
Were one to ask almost any “Christian or Catholic”: “IS GOD A GOOD GOD?” I have little doubt that nearly 100% would say that “indeed; “God IS Good.” This response is likely influenced by the “Jesus -Loves- Me-Factor,” which is true, but it is Conditional
On US; and our life choices and decisions. Christ New Testament message of forgiveness and Love must be tempered and mixed with what is “Fair and Just” in God’s own view. Some seem to assume that the Old Testament and the New Testament God are separate, and somehow different in there desired relationship with humanity. Be assured that they are One and the SAME God. The difference is the relationship of the Chosen people with Yahweh / God; which was based on a “fear and reward” mentality, and a very common misunderstanding of the New Testament message of God’s necessary Divine Justice. Failing to grasp that interspersed among the plentitude of Mercy and Love messages, is a necessary message of God’s necessary Justice. Somehow its easier for man to recall love, mercy, and kindness lessons, than dire warnings of possible pending doom.
YET the bible is filled with such warnings:
Heb.6: 10 “For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.”
Rev.2: 23 “and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.”
1 Peter 1: 17
“Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, “
Matt.19: 17 “And he said [Jesus] to him, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
Rom.2: 13 “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will bejustified.”
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him. [and this is FROM THE SAME book and CHAPTER AS JOHN 3:16]
Piety is a very personal thing, and without piety; Awe and Wonder are easily overlooked, or forgotten. Part of the blame are the altered “Gathering-Spaces” of this modern, “more enlightened era“; [the term now given to the post Vatican II places for Devine Worship]; which as intended deemphasize Divine Worship, for the new “we ARE thee church” theology promulgated aggressively for many years. Along with removal of altar rails, and removal of many tabernacles to less significant positions and lessening amounts of sacred images; Catholic Church’s today at times reflect the same low levels of “Divine space” evidence now only a “gathering space” as do many of our Protestant brethrens meeting places.
That is as it is
Salvation is a personal issue for each of us. Each of us is responsible for their own salvation; and only then, are we conditionally responsible for the possible salvation of others. Because “piety is a learned response,” the primary obligation to be a “pious Christian” belongs to us personally. And piety naturally leads to “Awe and Wonder” of OUR GOD, regardless of the level of sanctity found in“our Church building.”
We American’s tend to view laws, rules, and regulations as a lessening of our freedoms. Most often this is simply perception; not reality. Take for example “speed laws.” They are for our safety, not an unnecessary imposition on our “rights” This same issue of “Dominion” or “Domination” by the Magisterium is often heard as the excuse [reason] for not obeying Church Teachings.
I recall many years ago reading Pope Paul VI Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” [ON Human Life]. While in taught NOT ONE single new thing; it caused a fraction within the Vowed communities of bishops, priest and religious, that spread like a wild-fire among the laity. Led especially by “catholic-Theologians” that has in turn evolved to all of the other “Spirit of Vatican II” [NOT the Teachings of] changes of the past sixty years and today’s crisis of Faith. At the end of his Teaching he made predictions of what would happen if society embraced “contraceptive sex” as a “right” of personal choice.
HAVE HUMANAE VITAE‘S BOLD PREDICTIONS COME TRUE?
Janet Smith University of Dallas
50+ years ago “prophesied” that marriages and society would suffer if the use of contraception became widespread. Now the vast majority of spouses, as well as those who are unmarried, use some form of contraception.
To be sure, the encyclical was not written to be a prophetic document. Rather, it was written to be a clarifying document, intending to explain what the Church teaches about contraception. The encyclical does present this teaching clearly, but it has been little heeded during the last 50+ years. Statistics show that few Catholics live by these teachings, and it seems safe to suppose that few Catholics have read Humanae Vitae.
Christians understand marriage as an elevated calling, whereby God enlists spouses in the all-important enterprise of bringing forth new human life. The Church teaches that to use contraception is to reject God and his life-giving blessings. The Church teaches not merely that contraception is wrong, but that because contraception is wrong, it will have bad consequences.
Pope Paul VI made four rather general “prophecies” about what would happen if the Church’s teaching on contraception were ignored.
Infidelity and moral decline
The Pope first noted that the widespread use of contraception would “lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.” That there has been a widespread decline in morality, especially sexual morality, in the last 25 years, is very difficult to deny. The increase in the number of divorces, abortion, our-of-wedlock pregnancies, and venereal diseases should convince any skeptic that sexual morality is not the strong suit of our age.
There is no question that contraception is behind much of this trouble. Contraception has made sexual activity a much more popular option that it was when the fear of pregnancy deterred a great number of young men and women from engaging in premarital sexual intercourse. The availability of contraception has led them to believe that they can engage in premarital sexual activity “responsibly.” But teenagers are about as responsible in their use of contraception as they are in all other phases of their lives–such as making their beds, cleaning their rooms and getting their homework done on time.
Lost Respect for Women
Paul VI also argued that “the man” will lose respect for “the woman” and “no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium” and will come to “the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.” This concern reflects what has come to be known as a “personalist” understanding of morality. The personalist understanding of wrongdoing is based upon respect for the dignity of the human person. The Pope realized that the Church’s teaching on contraception is designed to protect the good of conjugal love. When spouses violate this good, they do not act in accord with their innate dignity and thus they endanger their own happiness. Treating their bodies as mechanical instruments to be manipulated for their own purposes, they risk treating each other as objects of pleasure.
Abuse of Power
Paul VI also observed that the widespread acceptance of contraception would place a “dangerous weapon… in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.” The history of the family-planning programs in the Third World is a sobering testimony to this reality. In Third World countries many people undergo sterilization unaware of what they are doing. The forced abortion program in China shows the stark extreme toward which governments will take population programs. Moreover, few people are willing to recognize the growing evidence that many parts of the world face not overpopulation, but underpopulation. It will take years to reverse the “anti-child” mentality now entrenched in many societies.
Pope Paul’s final warning was that contraception would lead man to think that he had unlimited dominion over his own body. Sterilization is now the most widely used form of contraception in the U.S.; individuals are so convinced of their rights to control their own bodies that they do not hesitate to alter even their own physical make-up.
The desire for unlimited dominion over one’s own body extends beyond contraception. The production of “test-tube babies” is another indication of the refusal to accept the body’s limitations; so too are euthanasia and the use of organs transplanted from those who are “nearly” dead. We seek to adjust the body to our desires and timetables, rather than adjusting ourselves to its needs.” END QUOTES
This is yet another example of how real freedom was not curtailed; but possible salvation was and is. It ought not be a surprise to many that “Freedom comes with a price tag.” Actions cause effects. Good actions = a good result; likewise evil postulates more evil.
Like this Encyclical was meant as a warning; so too, and in the same manner “Fear of the Lord’s” message has a continuity of unity and truth.
We need not fear that God will ever act unjustly towards us. BUT the Spiritual Gifts granted to us of a Mind, Intellect, Freewill and Soul; all Spiritual things, like God Himself are Eternal, and cannot die or be killed. We have them because it is God’s Will that we be able; and there become totally responsible for the consequences of our actions, to choose as we desire to choose. Isa.43 Verses 7 and 21: “every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” AND the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
“Fear of the Lord”
deals with Wonder, Awe, and RESPECT due to God as our Creator. While recognizing our unworthiness for salvation; we are nevertheless Hopeful of God’s Mercy and Love, so evident in His Personal Testimony. And because of His GRACE we are justified in doing so. Yet, we must never make light of the fact that God is unchanging. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Covenant. …. Because God is “Good”, and “Fairness and Justice” are too “good things” we can be assured that God will Judge us based on our deeds, and life choices. So it seems prudent for us to have and to set for ourselves a benchmark for our Spiritual Lives: Saint Gregory’s admonition seems appropriate for this cause.
“The Practice of a Christian Faith OUGHT TO REFLECT THE VERY NATURE OF GOD
” The closer we are able to life in accordance to this truth; the less we have to be concerned about our own salvation. Amen …. Mark.11: 22 “And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God”
Say close to God AND God will stay close to you. KNOW that we can pray to receive ALL of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Pat Miron, a Marian Catechist