Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 26. Fear.


1. Catholics as a whole, then, we claim to be not in awe of God, but holding themselves to Him rather by love than fear; yet for all that there must come into our religion a notion also of fear, else God will be made of little account, dwarfed by His hero-followers, the saints. It is possible that familiarity with God may breed something which seems very like contempt. The majesty of God has got to be considered just as much as His love, for either without the other would really give a false idea of Him. Just as there are people who would give up all belief in Hell, because they prefer to concentrate upon His mercy, and, as a result, have no real love of God as He is in Himself, so there are people also who do not sufficiently remember the respect due to His awfulness, people who think of Him as a Redeemer, which indeed He is, but not as a Judge, which is equally His prerogative. Hence this side of our character is also to be made perfect by the indwelling of the Spirit of God, our fear, anger, hate, have got to be sanctified by finding a true object for their due exercise. No single talent must be wrapped away in uselessness; I must fear God, be angry with, and hate sin. Fear, then, as well as piety is a gift of the Spirit.
2. The chief way in which the absence of this gift of fear manifests itself is in the careless and slipshod way we perform our duties. We are sure to believe in God’s justice and majesty; but we are not so sure to act up to our belief. Accuracy in devotion, in prayer, in life, is the result of a filial fear of God, and if I have to confess a very chaotic and uncertain procedure in my spiritual duties, then I can tell quite easily which gift I most need to make use of. What are my times for prayer like? Are they as regularly kept to as my circumstances permit? How about my subject for meditation, how about my following of the Mass, my watchfulness in prayer, my days for confession and communion? Again, my duties at home, in my profession, in the work I have undertaken? Are they on the whole punctually performed, accurately, with regard to details? That is where my fear for God should come in, for fear here is part of love and love is enormously devoted to little things, indeed finds that where it is concerned there are no little things, but time and place and manner and thoroughness have all got faithfully to be noted and carried out. Here, then, is where I shall find I need a reverential fear of God.
3. Yes, of course, pride and laziness will protest all the while, by urging that all this is a great deal of fuss about nothing, that God is our Father, that He perfectly understands, that we should not worry ourselves too much over trifles. Now pride and laziness often speak true things, or rather half-truths. It is true that God is my Father and understands; but it is equally true that I am His child and that love demands my thoroughness. Horror of sin, devotion to the sacrament of confession, the Scripture saying about a severe judgment for every idle word, all these things have got to be taken into account as well as the first set of principles. Piety needs fear for its perfect performance. The boy at first may have to be scolded into obedience to his mother. He does not at first realize, and is punished; but watch him when he is a grown man, no longer in subjection or under obedience; see how charmingly he cares for her by anticipating her wishes, how much he is at her beck and call, proudly foreseeing for her, protecting, caring. That is love, no doubt, but a love of reverence. They are comrades in a sense, but she is always his mother to him, some one to be idolized, reverenced, yes, and, really, feared, in the fullest sense of love.