Tag Archives: fear of the Lord

When Eucharistic Adoration feels like the library, try more Fear of the Lord

January 6, 2014


The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of fear of the Lord which enables us to approach Him with awe and reverence. Photo/ElectricDisk Licensed under Creative Commons

The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of fear of the Lord which enables us to approach Him with awe and reverence. Photo/ElectricDisk. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Vitamin D is harder to come by naturally during this cold, dark season. My spirit’s also been lacking another nutrient lately: Fear of the Lord.

I walk into the Perpetual Adoration chapel, kneel before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and sit down without giving Him much more thought sometimes than if I were walking into the library and he were the librarian.

Sadly, some of my Holy Hours can seem like a trip to the library. I get busy with prayer, reading and writing not thinking too much about the Lord in front of me until it’s time to “check out.” At times seeing Him doesn’t move me into rapturous prayer or even hold my attention very long.

More than the season

Winter blahs? Maybe but it goes beyond the season. Our faith isn’t based on feelings but without them life can start to resemble the winter tundra.

Saying I lack fear of the Lord doesn’t mean I feel more bold and brave before Him. It doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live in terror of God, either. As I see it, I’m  missing the awe and reverence I might feel before any king or even Pope Francis.

Fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that are increased in us at confirmation. (CCC1303)

As Mark Shea writes,  “We who have received his Divine life in baptism and confirmation are to walk in that same spirit of filial, not servile, fear and to likewise offer ourselves in love and not in self-contempt.”

Having some real fear of God mixed in with awe and reverence isn’t a bad thing. After all, even though Christ is with us so humbly in the form of a small disc of bread, He is King of the Universe.

Respect for God

According to the Catechism, “Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. The sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion.

It goes on to quote Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Are these feelings of fear and awe Christian feelings or not?… I say this, then, which I think no one can reasonably dispute. They are the class of feelings we should have — yes, have to an intense degree — if we literally had the sight of Almighty God; therefore they are the class of feelings which we shall have, if we realize His presence. In proportion as we believe that He is present, we shall have them; and not to have them, is not to realized, not to believe that He is present. (CCC2144)

I think the only cure for my deficiency is to pray that I may believe and become more aware that the Lord is present. Controlling feelings may not always be in our power but it is possible to make an act of the will.

A prayer

I will pray that I don’t take the Lord for granted, as I do the quiet presence of the librarian. Someone suggested saying a prayer modeled after the one priests say before Mass:

Enter this Holy Hour as though it were your first Hour, your last Hour, your only Hour. 

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The 7 best Confirmation gifts

April 17, 2012


Photo/ideacreamanuelaPps. Licensed under Creative Commons.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit have been coming up in conversations with my goddaughter, whom I’m sponsoring for Confirmation this spring. She has her eye on a particular gift, even though she’ll receive all seven when she’s confirmed later this month.

As the Holy Spirit bestows the seven gifts on my goddaughter in Confirmation, He will increase and complete her baptismal graces. (I remember her baptism well. I’m excited to see everything come together as she receives the last of her sacraments of initiation!)

Whether you’re involved with Confirmation right now, were confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year (congratulations!), received the sacrament a while ago or you’re just interested in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this sacrament, here is quick explanation of the gifts and a description of each one.

We know about the seven gifts because in scripture Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would have them when the Spirit rested upon Him. (Is. 11:2-3) The first verse lists wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and a fear of the Lord. The Church recognizes seven gifts because while the Hebrew text mentions the fear of the Lord twice, Greek and Latin versions instead list “piety.”

Following the Spirit’s promptings

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are habits that perfect us so we’re able to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. They are supernatural gifts that are present to us as long as we’re in a state of sanctifying grace. They complete and perfect the virtues (faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance) of those who receive them and make us docile and ready to obey the Lord’s inspirations. (CCC1831)  The gifts are meant to help us share in God’s life and nature—on earth and for eternity.

The gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and counsel belong to reason, while fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord belong to appetite, according to St. Thomas.

  1. Wisdom: The ability to find God in all things—in nature, events in the world and generally the ups and downs of life. It keeps us from judging by appearances alone and makes us more mature in how we think and act.
  2. Knowledge: This gift offers understanding of God and the universe. More than a collection of facts, it helps us know who we are and the true value of things through life events.
  3. Understanding: This gift helps us know how to live as Christians. It also gives insight into the truths of the faith so we aren’t confused by the conflicting cultural messages on how to live. It is perfected through prayer and reading scripture.
  4. Counsel (Right Judgment): The knowledge to discern between right and wrong—and the ability to choose what is right and avoid sin. This gift also helps us seek direction in the Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation while being open to the advice of others.
  5. Fortitude (Courage): The ability to overcome fear and stand up for what is right according to God’s law even in the face of rejection, verbal abuse or physical harm. It gives the firmness of mind needed to do good and endure suffering. And it provides the strength to live a good Christian life even when no one seems to notice.
  6. Piety (Reverence): A deep sense of love and respect for God and the Church. Reverence leads to prayer because in realizing our total reliance on God we come before Him with humility, trust and love. At the Holy Spirit’s instigation, through piety we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote.
  7. Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe): A gift that helps us recognize God’s majesty and glory, and His great love for us. It helps us avoid anything that would separate us from His love.

As I go through this list, I’m wondering whether I’ve fully unwrapped all these gifts since my own Confirmation. It’s not a bad idea to ask the Holy Spirit to inflame them in our soul.  In his article on the Catholic Education Resource Center’s site, Fr. William Saunders quotes Bl. John Paul II on the power of the gifts: “With gifts and qualities such as these, we are equal to any task and capable of overcoming any difficulties.”

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