The holy fear of God

In many ways the Lord tells us that we should fear nothing, except sin, which takes away our friendship with God. Before any difficulty, before the environment, before an uncertain future... we should not be afraid, we should be strong and courageous, as befits children of God. A Christian cannot live in fear, but must carry in his heart a holy fear of God, whom he loves madly.

Throughout the Gospel, "Christ repeats several times: Do not be not be afraid. And at the same time, together with these calls to fortitude, resounds the exhortation: Fear, rather fear him who is able to send body and soul to hell (Mt 10:28). We are called to fortitude and, at the same time, to the fear of God, and this must be the fear of love, filial fear. And only when this fear penetrates our hearts can we be truly strong with the fortitude of the Apostles, of the martyrs, of the confessors".

Among the principal effects that the fear of God causes in the soul is detachment from created things and an interior attitude of vigilance to avoid the least occasions of sin. It leaves in the soul a particular sensitivity to detect all that can grieve the Holy Spirit.

The gift of fear is at the root of humility, inasmuch as it gives the soul the awareness of its fragility and the need to have the will in faithful and loving submission to the infinite Majesty of God, placing ourselves always in our place, without wanting to take the place of God, without receiving honors that are for the glory of God. One of the manifestations of pride is the ignorance of the fear of God.

Together with humility, the gift of the fear of God has a singular affinity with the virtue of temperance, which leads to the moderate use of human things, subordinating them to the supernatural end. The most frequent root of sin is found precisely in the disordered pursuit of sensible pleasures or material things, and this is where this gift acts, purifying the heart and keeping it whole for God.

The gift of fear is par excellence that of the struggle against sin. All the other gifts help him in this particular mission: the lights of the gifts of understanding and wisdom reveal to him the greatness of God and the true meaning of sin; the practical directives of the gift of counsel keep him in awe of God; the gift of fortitude sustains him in an unflinching struggle against evil.

This gift, which was infused with the others in Baptism, increases in the measure in which we are faithful to the graces granted to us by the Holy Spirit; and in a specific way, when we consider the greatness and majesty of God, when we make a profound examination of conscience, discovering and giving the importance it has to our faults and sins. The holy fear of God will easily lead us to contrition, to repentance out of filial love: "love and fear of God. They are two strong castles, from which to wage war against the world and the demons".

The holy fear of God will gently lead us to a prudent distrust of ourselves, to flee quickly from the occasions of sin; and it will incline us to a greater delicacy with God and with all that concerns Him. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us through this gift to sincerely recognize our faults and to be truly sorry for them. May he make us react like the psalmist: my eyes have shed rivers of tears, because they have not kept your law. Let us ask him that, with gentleness of soul, we may have the sense of sin at the surface of our hearts.