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THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“Fear of the Lord”

8/16/2017

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways” (Psalm 128)

From childhood, our "educators", grandparents, aunts and uncles and parents would usually prevent us from committing wrong actions by putting us on guard against the big bad wolf, the black man and worst of all, sin. They did not shun teaching us to fear God, a judging and punitive God, not far from the God of the Old Testament, or better, from the concept of the Old Testament God. Even today, for so many, this idea of God remains steadfast and not only!

But God always finds a way to reclaim us. After having left you enough to your own beliefs, He calls you to know Him, to find out who He is, how He acts, and who you are in His eyes through a more attentive listening of His Word by reading Sacred Scripture, a journey of faith, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of Himself.

Contrary to what we have believed until now, we discover that God does not want to be feared but loved, and that our fear of Him must only be the exchange of His love for us.

The gift of Fear of the Lord makes us enter into and helps us live, together with the gift of Piety, a more solid relationship with Him. Perhaps the term ‘fear’ is slightly deceptive, but biblically it indicates an awareness of His greatness, magnificence, of His being noble and generous.

 “The fear of the Lord is glory and exultation, and gladness and a crown of rejoicing. The fear of the Lord delights the heart, and gives gladness and joy and long life. Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end; on the day of their death they will be blessed. To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom … To fear the Lord is fullness of wisdom” (Sir 1:9-14).

It is a filial love that God himself makes us experience in our families. Our fathers act as a steady point of reference whom we obey and respect, feel esteem for and desire not to hurt because they love us and we, as children, certainly do not fear them. We trust our fathers, play with them, make mistakes, even argue, but the feeling (of love) that binds us is so strong, intense and real that we would never think of abandoning them. And when they leave us we only feel a great void.

If our earthly fathers arouse all this in their children with their human limited love, how much more can God do: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him". (Lk 11:13).

Fear of God, then, is attraction towards God the Father, Father-Love. The blessed soul submits to him with docility and confidence and feels loved. Its only fear is that of offending or hurting Him.

Luisa, totally absorbed in this gift, teaches us that the more one knows God, the more one feels unworthy. The more one perceives the great majesty of God, the greater is the awareness of one’s own littleness and nothingness, as well as sinfulness. Even the slightest sin is seen as a serious failure, an unbearable offense against a perfect Father who is deserving only of praise, honor and glory.

In Luisa’s Diary we find that upon confessing her sins directly to Jesus, a Confession lasting about seven hours, she felt such pain for having offended Him because she possessed a clarity that was so alive before that Divine Sun that she could perceive her littleness and the nothingness of her being. She was amazed at her daring and wondered from where she had gotten the courage to offend such a good God; in the very act by which she offended Him, He would assist, preserve and nourish her. If she felt any resentment, it was only toward the sin which she exceedingly detested. She was loved and pardoned by Divine Justice, and He worked in every way to tear down the wall of division that sin had built between the soul and God.

Jesus encouraged and invited her not to fear Confession, making it clear to her that He is Judge, indeed, but even more her Father.

Despite her contempt for sin and the certainty of her misery, Luisa (the soul), driven by Hope, did not become discouraged, but rather persevered in the path of perfection to resemble the Father more and more. If she happened to fall, she would rise up again and repenting return to the Father who, in His infinite mercy, reopens his arms, gathers his lost children and makes merry with them (cf. Lk 11:18-32).

This gift also perfects other virtues, like humility and temperance. Through humility the soul is subjected to God, not in the form of a slave or servant, but as His child. And here is where we find the core of the spirituality of Living in the Divine Will: no longer doing the Divine Will, but living It; living in the Divine Will for having been won over by the Love of the Father.

Through the virtue of temperance, the soul endeavors to be more vigilant over itself. As Jesus taught Luisa, the soul acts forcibly on the first inner motions that prod the soul towards worldly realities and passions, to dominate these motions, and by winning them over, engages in a continuous process of purification in order to enter and remain in the Divine Will.

Fear of God is also this: fear of coming out of His Will. Luisa never feared God’s Will, but always her own which was easily prey to deceit, seductions and illusions. How many times did she fear that it was not Jesus who manifested Himself to her, and as proof of this she would ask Him to make the sign of the cross and to pray with her.

Luisa’s fear of yielding to her own will was such that she resorted to every means to fight against sin and the smallest offense toward God, toward Jesus and the Most Holy Trinity. Her littleness was the fruit of the knowledge of herself and the proper judgment of her being, never considering herself superior to what she really was: a creature like all the others, desired and molded by the hands of God and beside which He placed a single Master, His Son.

God’s teaching calls us to return to the likeness of children, to become little (cf. Mt 18:4), to empty oneself (cf. Phil 2:7) of all that covers and weighs on our soul, to become poor, yet free, free to truly taste the Lord and enjoy Him forever.

Luisa does all this by experiencing the same fear that she sees in Jesus when she describes Him: His adorable beauty, a majestic countenance, all-divine, which inspire fear and reverence and infuse so much trust as has never been found in another. His loving-kindness attracts the soul so much that the soul hasn’t the slightest doubt about being accepted by Jesus as bad and as sinful as it may seem to oneself.

The gift of Fear of the Lord ensures our happiness and eternal life, as we become aware that all is grace and that every grace and gift, as Jesus explained to Luisa, is a brick used to build the house of our soul in which He comes to dwell. In this dwelling is Humilty that sets the foundation, obedience that forms the walls, and Charity the lime; Fear of the Lord is the sentinel that keeps watch over this dwelling and protects it from every annoyance, wind or other overwhelming intrusion.

It is the guardian of this house operating not out of fear of punishment, but out of fear of offending the Master of the house. This holy fear must only do everything to please God and have no other intention.

 

Holy Spirit, fill me with the holy Fear of God,

so that I may humbly give witness to the Lord Jesus,

  meek and humble of heart. Give me the ability to fight

against sin so as not to offend the Father

Who loves me so much. And allow me to feel God's love as

the true source of my love for my brethren. Amen!

 

FIAT!

Riccardina
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