Monday, November 26, 2012

The Fear of the Lord

Here are Readings 4 through 6 of the Office of Matins for the last Sunday after Pentecost in the old calendar.  

When I read this sort of thing, it does make me think of my sins, and it does make me think that I’d better mend my ways!!

Will we ever have homilies like this again?(my emphases)

From the Sermon of St Basil the Great (Archbishop of Caesarea-in-Pontus) upon the Thirty-third Psalm.

Whenever the desire to sin cometh over thee, I would that thou couldest think of the awful and overwhelming judgment-seat of Christ. There the Judge shall sit upon a throne high and lifted up. Every creature shall stand before Him, quaking because of the glory of His presence. There are we to be led up, one by one, to give account for those things which we have done in life. Presently there will be found, by the sides of those who have in life wrought much evil, dreadful and hideous angels with faces of fire, and burning breath, appointed thereto, and showing their evil will, in appearance like the night, in their despair and hatred of mankind.

Think again of the bottomless pit, the impenetrable darkness, the lightless fire, burning, but not glowing; the poisonous mass of worms, preying upon the flesh, ever feeding, and never filled, causing by their gnawing unbearable agony; and lastly, the greatest punishment of all, shame and confusion forever. Have a dread of these things, and let that dread correct thee, and be as a curb to thy mind to hold it in from the hankering after sin.

This fear of the Lord the Prophet hath promised to teach. But he hath not promised to teach it to all, but only to such as will hear him; not to such as have fallen far away, but to such as run to him, hungry for salvation; not to such as have no part in the promises, but to such as by baptism are born children of adoption, set at peace and oneness with the Word. Come, ye children, saith he; that is to say, Draw nigh unto me by good works, all ye who by the new birth have become the worthy children of light. Hearken unto me, all ye who have the ears of your heart opened. I will teach you the fear of the Lord, even the fear of that Being of Whom we have just been speaking.

I think a priest who would preach like this would gain the ear of quite a few of the faithful. Of course, a few faithful would give the priest an earful, too, and probably complain to the bishop. 

Of course, the "flip side" of the above is the abyss of God's merciful love - His unfathomable willingness to forgive the sins of the penitent. Perfect contrition, as I understand it, involves seeking to avoid sin and to do good for the love of God, rather than out of a fear of hell. But fear of hell is a good start! In the meantime, as true love of God grows in us, we can pray this prayer (from BlessedBe God):

O my Jesus, Thou knowest well that I love Thee; but I do not love Thee enough. Grant that I may love thee more. O love that burnest ever and never failest, my God, Thou Who art charity itself, enkindle in me that divine fire which consumes the saints and transforms them unto Thee.


  1. Yes , we had better thing of the LAST FOUR THINGS and pray to avoid ALL sin in our lives.
    Hell is real ...and one mortal sin , unrepented will send us there .
    I have heard some great sermons on the Four Last Things , and I think about my own death each and everyday : Today I prepare each and every day for ETERNITY and I pray for the Mercy of Jesus , because today I live for GOD ALONE!

  2. I wonder WHY we do not hear the FOUR LAST THINGS preached on a regular basis ????

    Why each Sunday at the local parish Novus Ordo setting to do we get those warm and fuzzy sermons , when are souls are in DANGER and we each face eternal damnation ???

  3. Jeannie, really! Haven't you heard? No one goes to Hell! God loves us just the way we are, and He would never be so mean as to send someone to Hell! (At least that's what many amongst the clergy and laity seem to think these days!)

  4. YEP, you are right Dr. Jay !
    The latest and newest from the pulpit is everyone is going to heaven ...YIKES.
    That is actually against the teaching of the Catholic Church.
    I wonder if our priests and bishops know that TRUTH!

  5. Well, we can read the thread below and go completely in the other direction. :(

    I almost despair of salvation when I read something like this.

    Dear Lord, please give us the grace to rely totally upon you for the salvation of our souls (and those in our charge) and not give in to the sins of despair or presumption. Amen


  6. Well said CK ...let us TRUST in Our Jesus.
    Last night before retiring I read from the first Notebook , The Divine Mercy Diary of St. Faustina that THIS is the HOUR OF MERCY and we need to turn and TRUST in His Mercy and live for HIM ALONE, HE is offended when souls do not TRUST in HIM !
    God thank you for your LOVE and MERCY!

  7. I just listened to 3 sermons from Audio Sancto on Purgatory and they were all beautiful.
    I would suggest highly to listen to these ...
    How very important it is to Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and to do so DAILY!
    I was so blessed this morning by listening to all three short sermons !


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