Sunday, May 13, 2012


Bishop Joseph Galante: "The old fear factor approach — come to church or go to hell — will not work in today's world.

Fear, though, in today's world does work for the following:

1. Fear of a speeding ticket slows speeders down in the presence of a cop.

2. Fear of a stroke keeps people taking their high blood pressure medicine.

3. Fear of poverty keeps people working.

4. Fear of intruders keeps people locking their doors at night.

5. Fear of contagion keeps people from inhaling the spray of another's sneeze.

6. Fear of offending one's mother on mother's day causes children to buy Mother's Day cards and gifts

However, in today's world, the fear of hell does not work to keep people from not going to Mass?

Have we not taught them that hell looms very powerful over their lives when they don't think it is important enough to be at the One Sacrifice of Christ re-presented at every Holy Mass whereby they are to receive His Sacrificial love and the only means of their personal salvation?

The Seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit is "Fear of the Lord!"

It means: Two Kinds of Fear

"The fear of the Lord is a much misunderstood concept, perhaps in part because there are actually two types of "fear" of the Lord mentioned in Scripture. The first, mentioned in Isaiah 2:10, 19 and 21, is not a gift of the Holy Spirit; it is the abject terror of an unrepentant sinner before the justice of God. Some translations render this as "the terror of the Lord" (Revised Standard Version) or "dread of the Lord" (Revised English Bible). The original Hebrew word is pachad, which always indicates a terrified dread. The Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) contains a parallel passage (6:15-17), in which evildoers try to hide in terror of God's justice.

Ultimately, God will have to judge those who do evil and refuse to repent at His loving call. Such people have every reason to dread that day. Yet those who are in Christ are "not appointed to wrath" (I Thessalonians 5:9). Our Lord has redeemed, justified and sanctified them by His Cross and through Baptism. As long as they remain in a state of grace, they are not children of wrath, but regenerate children of God. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), for Our Savior did away with their eternal punishment.

So Christians in a state of grace need not fear God's wrath. I St. John 4:17-18 says "In this way love is perfected among us, so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love". Those who are perfected in love will have humble confidence on Judgement Day and always. Perfect love drives out all fear of divine punishment.

So for those who are in Christ, the "fear of the Lord" does not involve abject terror or dread of divine justice. In fact, Saint John says that any who fear God's wrath are not perfected in love (verse 18).

Yet Sacred Scripture elsewhere mentions "fear of the Lord" as something virtuous, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. So what is this "holy fear"? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for this fear is yirah, which denotes piety and reverence rather than abject terror. This is why some modern translations say "revere the Lord" rather than "fear the Lord"."

There are three ingredients to Fear of the Lord:

1. Reverence and Awe
2. Hatred of Evil
3. Obedience to God


ytc said...

Good points, Father.

If the Real Presence of Christ and fear of hell don't keep people at Mass, I don't know what will.

But I blame this on the fact that so many Catholics don't know what the Real Presence of Christ is and aren't even aware that hell exists.


rcg said...

I am sort of surprised people don't know this. I am very surprised the Bishop does not. The enemies of Christ love to jump on the damnation thing to invalidate and draw people away from the Church and God. Yet they fully understand what it is like to live a life with regret and the even greater horror or trying to rationalize their evil actions rather than face them.

As for the Bishop and his foolish statement: the nation wakes up everyday wondering what they are going to do because they have saved nothing, invested nothing, and lived on borrowed money and time. Our government has abandoned us, families are set 'two against three'. Priests extemporize homilies rather than use their sermon to explain the prayers because they can't. We are looking into the open door of Hell right now.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

The Bishop simplifies it too the point of trivializing both Mass attendance and repentance. There is a better, more theologically correct, less flippant way of stating it: Believe or perish. "The work of God is this, believe in Him who was sent." (Jn. 6:29) Once again, we are confronted with the priority of right belief. Every other understanding of the faith and the Christian life follows from this. Mass attendance, Confession, Christian service...all flow from belief in Him who was sent...both in his Person and in His warnings and promises. Still have doubts about judgement and damnation? Don't like to face the discomfort of accepting the fact that Christ says there will be a judgement and eternal consequences for sin? Then perhaps you might start by viewing these statements of Christ as very strong the sign at the beach "Danger:Strong Undertow. Swim At Own Risk." How 'bout an old Southern bluegrass verse:

from, "Too Far From Shore"
"For now, the Tempest blows high,
And clouds o'er shadow the sky
Old Death is hovering nigh,
And you're drifting too far from shore...Come to Jesus today, let Him show you the way, You're drifting too far from shore."

It is all really quite simple. That is both the beauty for many and the difficulty for others.