Fear

As one who must deal regularly with fear, I found this piece by Father Bede Jarrett to be so helpful, and I hope you do, too.

Fear is a weakness and a strength, a sin and a virtue.  For most, it is probably an evil, since human nature shrinks from present pain and is the more vividly afraid of what more immediately threatens.  For that reason, it would appear that man is more likely to be too much, than too little, afraid in life.  No doubt there are many who need to be more circumspect, more cautious; but these adventurous spirits are fewer in comparison than those who find in the life of the soul too much matter for depression and discouragement.

Naturally the real determinant a to whether fear is legitimate is to be sought in ascertaining the object of fear: Obviously the whole question is: “What exactly is it of which I am afraid?” . . .

What signs can I look for to discriminate between the right and wrong fear?  This surely is the infallible test: the fear that is really and truly from God should take me nearer and nearer to his feet; a fear that keeps me from his presence and holds me at arm’s length from him can never be his gift . . .

So, then, the true fear of God should hold me to his love and his reverence.  It must prevent me from turning away from the pathway of his commandments, nor should it further disturb the peace and serenity of my soul, nor torture my conscience nor bruise the tenderness of love or lead the enemies of God to speak of him reproachfully.  I may know what is a false fear of God, for it will lead me from him.

The hands of love

The man born blind

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Some things in life are hard to understand and to deal with–especially those terrible  things that happen to the innocent, especially when it’s our own children.  In his ninth chapter, John tells the story of the man born blind.  My brother, Rod, is legally blind as a result of his diabetes, and it has proved a great challenge to him.  I am currently reading the letters of Bede Jarrett, a provincial of the English Province of Dominicans from 1916-1932.  He has a thought-provoking reflection on John 9:

Think what it means to be born blind.  He could do nothing for himself, except what he had learned with great labour and trouble.  It must have seemed the worst possible thing to him.  Think of him as a child, a boy with all his strength for, as far as we know, he was otherwise perfectly healthy, his pent-up energy, and he couldn’t walk, ride or swim without someone coming to help and guide him, and tell him which way to go.  If you described the beauty of a flower, or the bloom of a fruit, to him, it meant nothing; he was born blind.  Horrible, hideous–and yet, what does our Lord say?  The apostles, seeing him, said, ‘Lord, who has sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?’ Of course they put it down to sin (the Pharisees had a doctrine that a man could sin even in his mother’s womb), and our Lord said, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.’ It was just the fact of his being born blind that made the glory of God so manifest.  ‘It has never been heard of since the world began that  man born blind hath received his sight.’ Others, yes, but never one born blind.  So just what seemed so cruel to him turned out to be this wonderful miracle, making manifest the glory of God.
     So we see that all circumstances, however adverse they seem to be to us, are always favorable to God’s plan, always, always, as to the blind man, the best thing for us.
     His hands are strong and powerful hands and we can confidently rest there.  Can we not sometimes see in the hands of a clever artist, or surgeon, the strength and deftness expressive of the mind that directs their action?  But with God, they are not only the hands of power, and not only the hands of wisdom, but of love, and it is only when we leave all things in his hands that we find complete serenity; and then a great peace shall come into our souls.

The blind man washes in the pool of Siloam (James Tissot)
The blind man washes in the pool of Siloam (James Tissot)