Fear

At the Incarnation of the Son of God, there is a natural emotion that is addressed in the Gospels: Fear, the aversion to a perceived danger.

The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him, ‘Do not be afraid, for your prayer is heard, . . .’

After greeting Our Lady, Gabriel says to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’

St. Joseph is told by the angel, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; . . .’

Finally, the angel greets the shepherds, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy . . . .’

As a natural emotion, fear is neutral, neither good nor evil.  Virtue or vice is based upon a person’s response to fear.  Mary is said to have been ‘troubled’ at the Archangel’s words and visit.  Granted, an Archangel is visiting her; honoring her with the greeting, ‘Hail, full of grace’; inviting her to be the Mother of God – though she had taken a vow of virginity.  If there were any natural emotion of fear in Our Lady, she quickly gives it to God, the Father in total trust of His Plan: ‘Let it be done unto me according to Thy Will.’

How often does fear lead me to mistrust Our Lord?  To forget that He is my merciful, loving, almighty Father?  How often does fear paralyze me from prayer, works of mercy and my daily duties according to my state in life?  The devil often uses fear to paralyze us, to discourage us and to disrupt our peace of soul.

We have seen a good bit of attention given to fear this year, haven’t we?!  Paralysis from receiving the sacraments; from interacting with our fellow man?  How many have used fear to control others; fear of being fined or closed?  How many addictions from discouragement?  How much despair?

Fear of losing God’s life and going to hell, can be a motivator to avoid evil.  And, yet, it seems pretty clear fear often focuses us on this life only.  When we forget God is my Loving Father, fear of sickness, of suffering, of death can be overwhelming.  Welcome to our world of 2020!

Rather than acquiescing to messages of fear from many in our secular world, may we turn to Our Lady and ask her this Advent for a deeper trust in her Son.  For, it is His Birth that brings the message of Truth: ‘Be not afraid.’

God bless

FRVW

Fr. Jacques Philippe on Difficulties

We hope everyone has a holy, joyful and safe Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving, though some may argue, is a national holiday to give thanks to Almighty God!  It was established by George Washington to be on Thursday, November 26, 1789.  Lincoln, in 1863, changed the date to be the final Thursday of November.  Perhaps, a good custom would be to read the Thanksgiving Proclamations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  They are completely focused on thanking God for His many gifts.

Over these many months Fr. Jacques Philippe’s writings and guidance have been encouraging.  I should be reading him everyday!  Perhaps, a recent thought from Interior Freedom would be helpful.

We also have to admit that difficulties, however hard they may be, bring not only disadvantages but also advantages.

The first advantage is that they prevent us from assuming exclusive ownership of our lives and our time.  They prevent us from shutting ourselves up inside our programs, our plans, our wisdom.  They liberate us from the prison of ourselves: our narrow-mindedness and narrowness of judgment.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)  The worst thing that could happen would be for everything to go exactly as we wanted it, for that would be the end of any growth.  To be able to enter little by little into God’s wisdom, infinitely more beautiful, richer, more fruitful, and more merciful than ours (cf. Romans 11: 33-36), our human wisdom needs a very thorough shake-up.  Not to destroy it, but to raise and purify it, and free it from its limitations.  It is always marked by a certain measure of selfishness and pride, and by lacks of faith and love.  Our narrow vision needs opening to God’s wisdom; we require an in-depth renewal.  Sin, by its nature, is narrowing: holiness is openness of spirit and greatness of soul. (pp. 50-51)

God bless FRVW

Fr. Jacques Philippe on God’s Will

(Interior Freedom)

When uncertain about God’s will, it is very important that we tell ourselves: ‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me, there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk, knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’ These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing the essential points of every Christian vocation. There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided: finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question . . . we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged, that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day, like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God, loving the people around us here and now. Lacking answers about the future, we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

— Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55