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Catholic Dictionary




Infused gift of the Holy Spirit that confirms the virtue of hope and inspires a person with profound respect for the majesty of God. Its corresponding effects are protection from sin through dread of offending the Lord, and a strong confidence in the power of his help.

The fear of the Lord is not servile but filial. It is based on the selfless love of God, whom it shrinks from offending. Whereas in servile fear the evil dreaded is punishment; in filial fear it is the fear of doing anything contrary to the will of God.

The gift of fear comprises three principal elements: a vivid sense of God's greatness, a lively sorrow for the least faults committed, and a vigilant care in avoiding occasions of sin. It is expressed in prayer of the Psalmist, "My whole being trembles before you, your ruling fills me with fear" (Psalm 119:120). One of its salutary effects is to induce a spirit of deep humility in dealing with others, especially with inferiors, since it makes a person aware that he or she stands constantly before the judgment of God.