There’s a little gift from the Lord for each of us. So many of us have taken this particular gift, kept it neatly wrapped and stuck it high up on a shelf. We don’t want to even peek inside and see what is in it. The gift I am referring to is the 7th one the Lord gave to us through the Holy Spirit — after wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge and piety. That it is mentioned last makes it no less precious. This gift is fear of the Lord.
“…love causes fear since it is through his loving a certain good that whatever deprives a man of that good is an evil to him… and… he fears it as an evil.” Saint Thomas assures us of the validity of this type of fear by teaching that this “fear is… borne of love.” Saint Paul the Apostle tells us in Philippians 2: “in fear and trembling work out your salvation.” And fear can even make us more charitable towards others. It was St. Augustine who said, “fear leads to the love of charity.” There is even reason to view fear of the Lord as a spiritual antidote to financial difficulties. Fear of the Lord keeps us in check, asking God always if our actions are pleasing in His eyes. If we want to hold onto our finances, it is wise not to let go of our fear of the Lord. Once we let go of fear of the Lord, it is easy to be blinded by the chance to make a larger profit and by the struggle for ever-greater wealth. In that blindness we can sometimes make unwise choices.
For the sake of profit many sin, And the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. Like a peg driven between fitted stones between buying and selling sin is wedged in, unless you earnestly hold fast to fear of the Lord, suddenly your house will come down… (Sirach 27:1-3).
Blindness can likewise lead to unwise choices in our voting. Abortion is an intrinsic evil. No evil in this election can surpass the evil that abortion is. We must vote with a good and formed conscience, as we ask ourselves: what if I was in the womb and the knife was coming for me? As U.S. Bishop Rene Gracida stated in a … radio broadcast:
“A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate.” …. (Note: Democrats or Socialists are pro-abortion)
We will be held accountable to God for our voting. A vote in support of those who vote for abortion, translates into a vote for abortion. To vote for abortion is to vote in favor of the shedding of innocent blood by Heaven’s littlest ones whom God most especially loves. This shedding of blood demands justice and if we continue on our current path it would not be at all unreasonable to expect that God will eventually dispense His punishment in His time and in His way, to us as individuals and to us collectively as a nation. Just as earthly fathers must at times punish children whom they dearly love, so God dispenses punishment on us as His beloved children. God is love and the dispensation of His just punishment is an act of mercy. “Justice and mercy appear in the punishment of the just in this world, since by afflictions lesser faults are cleansed in them, and they are more raised up from earthly affections to God…” “The evils that press on us in this world force us to go to God.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas)
That little box so neatly wrapped still sits upon the shelf holding that precious gift and gathering dust. Perhaps the time has come to take the box down from the shelf, blow off the dust, untie the bow, peek inside, and receive the precious gift the Lord has waiting for us that is designed to bring us wisdom — the gift of fear of the Lord. Before we vote, we must pray and ask God for the wisdom to discern His will, and the strength to vote in accord with that. We must read our Bibles and Catechisms, to better understand His will and pray for the grace to stop offending God through sin.
- Today's reading from the book of Isaiah declares that the fasting desired by the Lord is not so much denying oneself food (although this is important) but rather, consists in "Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; / Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own." Many families take these words to heart by having an inexpensive, penitential dinner on Fridays in Lent (such as beans and rice) and then giving the extra money to the poor.
- Many families give each child one pretzel during Friday dinners in Lent. Remind your children of the spiritual significance of the pretzel.
- Pray the Stations of the Cross today with your family. An excellent version with beautiful meditations composed by our Holy Father is his Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. Some other recommended versions are: Eucharistic Stations of the Cross, and the more traditional Stations of the Cross written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori can be found in most Catholic bookstores. Here are some guidelines for praying the Stations of the Cross in your home.
- Any of the linked activities (Fun Pretzel Project, Lenten Scrapbook, Candelabrum for Stations of the Cross) are a perfect way for your children to spend their Friday afternoons throughout this season of Lent.