Thursday, January 28, 2016
2. Fear is called servile fear when it is the dread of punishment alone. It is called filial fear or chaste fear when it is primarily the dread of offending God, our loving father. Between these two types of fear is initial fear, which is properly the beginning of filial fear, and differs from it only as imperfect differs from perfect. There is another type of fear called worldly fear which is the dread of losing temporal things to which the heart clings as to the ultimate good.
3. Worldly fear is always evil, for it discounts God and eternity, and dreads only the loss of creatural goods.
4. Servile fear is not good in point of its servility, but it is good inasmuch as it recognizes and dreads the evil that attends upon sin. From such a dread a person may readily rise to the higher and noble type of fear, and through this, to charity and repentance.
5. However, servile fear is essentially different from filial fear. Servile fear dreads punishment; filial fear dreads offending God. These two types of fear differ in their specific objects, and therefore differ essentially from each other.
6. Yet servile fear, as we have seen, has a good aspect, and, in this respect it comes from the Holy Ghost; but it is not the gift of the Holy Ghost that we call fear. Hence, servile fear, in so far as it is good, can remain in the soul which has charity, that is, which is in the state of sanctifying or habitual grace, and therefore in the friendship and love of God.
7. Wisdom is knowledge of God together with the will to serve him and possess him. Now, the beginning of wisdom itself is faith, for by faith we know God and are directed to him. But the beginning of wisdom, in the sense of what arouses one and stirs oneto be wise, is fear. This beginning of wisdom is both servile fear and filial fear; such fear puts spurs to a man, so to speak, and makes him cultivate wisdom. In this sense, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 110).
8. Initial fear is, as we have said, beginning fear. Both servile fear and filial fear may be, in some way, the start of fearing the Lord. Yet initial fear is closer to filial fear than to servile fear; indeed, it is, properly speaking, an imperfect form of filial fear.
9. Filial or chaste fear of the Lord is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. By it we revere God and avoid what separates us from him.
10. Filial fear increases with charity, for the more one loves God, the more one fears to offend him. Servile fear loses its servility as charity increases, and then, as the non servile dread of deserved punishments, it decreases in the glow of charity. For charity fixes the soul more and more on God, and thus the thought of self, and even of deserved punishment of oneself, becomes less and less. Besides, the greater one's charity is, the more confident is one's soul of escape from punishment. And thus, finally, the only fear in the charity-filled soul is filial fear.
11. Filial fear will exist in a perfected state in heaven. It cannot be the same as it is during earthly life, for in heaven all possibility of losing or offending God will be taken away. Servile fear will not exist at all in heaven.
12. The first beatitude, "Blessed are the poor inspirit," corresponds to the gift of fear. For if a man fears God perfectly, as he may do by the gift, he does not pridefully seek to be rich or honored, but is humble and poor inspirit.