POPE FRANCIS EXPLAINS THE SEVENTH GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, FEAR OF THE LORD
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I am back in Rome after a brief but fun, fulfilling, happy, restful five days with friends in Philadelphia, including the main stars of the weekend, the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Healey, Jr. The three of us originally met in Rome two years ago when Bob and Bobbi were here on business for the Healey International Relief Foundation, founded by Robert Healey, Sr. I am now a member of that board and, given that I was in town for the Healey wedding, I had a meeting on Monday with two of the staff members of the Foundation as well as the new executive director, Ben Parra, recently brought on board after the sudden death of Msgr. Dan Sullivan, the previous director.

Friday was my first day in Philly. I slept late and felt very rested and realized, with a start, that this was the first time perhaps in years that I had no specific event, meeting, appointment, errands or other obligations on my agenda! It was amazing a real eye-opener for someone who is always juggling (and loving it) work schedules, people, events, conferences, meetings, dinners, receptions, visiting friends, etc. Naturally I did find a ton of things to do, including a lot of walking and re-visiting Philadelphias historic sites (and a bit of shopping at Phillys historic Macys).

The wedding Saturday was at the Gesu church in Philadelphia, modeled on the Jesuit-run church of the Gesu here in Rome. The late afternoon reception and dinner was held in a breathtakingly beautiful room of the historic Union League Club of Philadelphia where 300 guests also enjoyed great music until the magic hour of midnight. As are all weddings, it was a magical day, a wonderful, beautiful, touching event, a day filled with love and hope and expectations and shared joy for and with the new couple.

Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, of course. I had been in touch with Archbishop Chaput who told me he does not usually celebrate Mass Sunday morning in Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral but rather dedicates those mornings to visiting parishes. He does, however, preside at the Sunday 6:30 pm Mass, and that is where I went - only to discover that confirmation was scheduled for 113 young people and adults! The cathedral was packed to the rafters and the Mass seemed like a papal one in length two hours. But confirmation on Pentecost Sunday has to be very special!

I briefly saw Archbishop Chaput (who had to rush off to a dinner) as well as a friend I knew from his days at NAC in Rome, Fr. Dennis Gill. He had just been named by the archbishop as pastor/rector of the cathedral, where he has headed liturgy, among other assignments, for a number of years. Another friend, Auxiliary Bishop Danny Thomas, had a packed weekend agenda so we never saw each other: We both worked in the Roman Curia for years and he was also a spiritual advisor to the seminarians at NAC. The bishops are now in New Orleans for the meeting this week of the USCCB.

As much as I obviously love Rome, it is always a thrill and a joy to return to the States where I have SO many relatives and friends, from sea to shining sea!

The only difficult part of the trip was the flight home. I had an aisle seat in row 13 and the rest of the row the 4-2 configuration was a family, including a one-year-old who cried for the first six hours! When she did stop, it was for only about 4-6 minutes. Her mother finally got her to sleep the last two hours of the flight, to everyones immense relief, including the mothers! What surprised me the most was not that a one-year old cried on a plane (and earlier, in the airport) but that she did not eventually (much sooner, in fact) cry herself to sleep!

Following is a look at todays general audience, held under a scorching sun in St. Peters Square, at which the Pope spoke of the seventh gift of the Holy Spirit, Fear of the Lord. I remember as a child wondering why we should fear the Lord? Didnt He enormously love us? He created us and did He not only want good for us? Why should we be afraid?

Then one day, a wise priest explained that fear of the Lord is not fear, like being afraid of snakes, but rather awe! Awe! Awe at Gods greatness, His goodness, His all-encompassing love, His great mercy and forgiveness! God was awesome! I was one very relieved and happy little girl!

POPE FRANCIS EXPLAINS THE SEVENTH GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, FEAR OF THE LORD

Because of the days very hot temperatures in Rome, Pope Francis chose to greet the pilgrims who were ill and/or confined to wheel chairs in the Paul VI Hall before the general audience, He traditionally greets them in the square after the general audience catechesis. Speaking off the cuff, he said, We thought it was better for you to stay here in peace, where it is a little cooler, and not under the baking sun! You can watch the audience on the maxi-screen, you can follow it all without suffering in the sun, as they say that today will be a very hot day. Thank you!

He prayed the Hail Mary with the pilgrims, gave them his blessing and asked them to pray for him.

Once in St. Peters Square, he began the audience by noting, In our catechesis on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we now turn to the last of these gifts: fear of the Lord. We know that this is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of Gods grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.

Fear of God, explained the Pope, is the gift of the Spirit that reminds us of how small we are before God and His love, and that our well-being rests in surrendering ourselves to His hands with humility, respect and trust..

Through the fear of the Lord, said the Holy Father, we become, as Jesus asks us, like little children, trusting in the goodness and the protection of our heavenly Father. The Spirit enables us to persevere in loving obedience to the word of God. Fear of the Lord is also a kind of alarm, awakening us to the presence of sin in our lives and reminding us that we will one day be held accountable to the just Judge.

Francis stated that, When we begin to use other people, to live for money and empty pleasure alone, blaspheming Gods name and allowing ourselves to be corrupted, this spiritual gift comes to our aid and directs us to the right path. Today let us pray that the fear of God, together with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, will renew us in faith and constantly remind us that in God alone do we find our ultimate happiness, freedom and fulfillment.

He made particular reference to those who make a living from human trafficking, slavery, or the production of weapons. With regard to the latter, he said that they are not interested in the Word of God since they fabricate death, they are merchants of death and make death into a trade. He expressed his hope that the fear of God may make them understand that one day everything will come to an end and they will have to account for themselves before God.

In conclusion, noting that tomorrow, 12 June, is World Day Against Child Labor, the Pope launched an appeal for the tens of thousands of children who are forced to work in degrading conditions, exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, as well as abuse, mistreatment and discrimination. Listen well, he exclaimed. Tens of thousands of children!

Francis expressed his hope that the international community would extend social protection for minors in order to weaken this scourge. Let us renew our commitment, in particular in families, to guarantee to every boy and girl the protection for his or her dignity and the possibility of healthy growth. A serene childhood enables us to look trustfully upon life and to the future.

Write to Joan at:
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