Timor Domini

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Saturday: The Gift of Fear of the Lord

The Gift of Fear of the Lord is the antidote to pride and the beginning of the humility by which the soul arrives at union with God. In Chapter Seven of the Holy Rule Saint Benedict says: "The first degree of humility then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes, shunning all forgetfulness, and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded." The Gift of Holy Fear fills one with the utmost reverence for God and for all that pertains to his service. It makes one recoil from occasions of sin and desire a burning purity of heart for the worship of God “in the beauty of holiness” (Ps 95:9).

One deficient in fear of the Lord is careless in His service, easily flirts with temptation, and takes stupid risks, walking a tight rope over the abyss of sin. One lacking fear of God approaches holy things casually and treats lightly of what is sacred. American culture, especially suburban American culture, fosters a casual approach to all things, including the worship of the Divine Majesty. The past forty years have witnessed an incremental loss of reverence in our churches.

The Gift of the Fear of the Lord causes us to shun carelessness in His service. Fear of the Lord is far removed from anything resembling a morbid and self-centred scrupulosity; it is marked by joy in the Holy Spirit and fosters a holy boldness in the presence of the Father. One graced with Fear of the Lord knows that, hidden in the secret of the Face of Christ and assumed into His filial and priestly prayer to the Father, there is nothing to fear.

Fear of the Lord colours the way we carry out the Sacred Liturgy; it inspires a loving attention even to the smallest details. It constitutes a kind of enclosure around the Holy of Holies lest we fall into an attitude of casual familiarity and into the soulless routine that is the death of true devotion. Fear of the Lord imbues us with a holy awe and with that quality of “Eucharistic amazement” which Pope John Paul II sought to reawaken in the Church during his Year of the Eucharist. Finally, the Gift of Fear of the Lord associates us with the angels who, with veiled faces, tremble and ceaselessly cry out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is 6:3).

3 Comments

Ah, Father Mark, you've used a picture of my favorite saint... Saint Bruno. Thank you!

Thank you,Father.

+Dear Father,
Alas, the culture of casualness can creep even into a monastery! Thank you for your reflection on the gifts of the Holy Spirit-very nourishing!I especially appreciate your words:
"The Gift of the Fear of the Lord causes us to shun carelessness in His service. Fear of the Lord is far removed from anything resembling a morbid and self-centred scrupulosity; it is marked by joy in the Holy Spirit and fosters a holy boldness in the presence of the Father. One graced with Fear of the Lord knows that, hidden in the secret of the Face of Christ and assumed into His filial and priestly prayer to the Father, there is nothing to fear." Amen!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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