The seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit is Fear of the Lord, which is a holy fear (not fright) and loving reverence towards God. When we think of this Gift of reverence and awe, perhaps our first experience of it is being held spellbound by the wonder of creation: observing the billions of stars in the night sky, holding a new baby, watching the beauty of a sunset and seeing a wild animal. Let me take this same sense of reverence and awe toward creation and apply it to the reality of experiencing the reverence and awe of God the Creator.
We grow in the Gift of Fear of the Lord by quietly praying for its increase within us. As we rest in Jesus during times of silence, He allows us to recognize who He is and how He loves us in a particular and personal way.
One of the best places for this type of prayer is in a posture of “being with” Jesus truly present in the holy Eucharist. After Mass, the consecrated host—Jesus Himself—is reserved in the tabernacle. Here, Jesus reveals over time the awareness that we are in His Presence and strengthens in us a sense of reverence and awe.
When I was first introduced to adoration of our Lord, I watched a DVD called “Miracles of the Eucharist.” The first of the 10 miracles on the DVD happened in Lanciano, Italy, in the year 700. At that time, there was a priest who doubted the True Presence of the Holy Eucharist and he begged God to help him. At Mass, as he raised the host, it became human flesh and the wine became human blood. When tested nearly 1,300 years later, the host proved to be the flesh of a human heart and decay had not set in. The blood was found to be type AB. Doctors tell us that after a short period of time, shed blood deteriorates and loses its useful quality. And yet this blood, changed from wine at Mass 1,300 years prior, has all the qualities of freshly shed blood. What a blessing that God offers these miracles to help us believe that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
Another amazing miracle involved St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231). This saint’s main focus was helping others to believe in the precious gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.
If one of God’s creatures, a donkey, was moved to kneel, how much more should it move us to have reverence and awe toward Jesus in the holy Eucharist?
During his travels through Rimini, Italy, St. Anthony engaged in conversation with a, particularly stubborn unbeliever. This man obstinately refused to admit the mystery of the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ as the priest prays the words of Jesus during Mass, for this man perceived no change.
St. Anthony said, “You possess a mule that you ride often. I will present a consecrated host to it; if the donkey falls on its knee before the Blessed Sacrament, will you recognize the Real Presence of the Savior under His eucharistic appearance?” “Certainly,” responded the man, who felt confident that this outcome would be impossible. The two men agreed to meet again in the market square three days later.
The obstinate unbeliever, in order to insure victory, deprived his beast of all food for the three days. St. Anthony prepared for his assured victory by doubling his accustomed time in prayer.
At the set day and time, St. Anthony left the church, carrying a consecrated host in a monstrance. The skeptic arrived leading the famished animal by bridle. A considerable crowd had gathered on the square, curious to attend such a remarkable sight. With a smile on his lips, the doubter, believing victory already to be his, set a sack of oats before the animal.
As all watched in anticipation, the hungry animal turned away from the food and turned toward the sacred host held by St. Anthony. With a graceful motion uncharacteristic of a mule, the donkey bowed low to the ground, giving due reverence to his Creator. It did not straighten or stand up again until it had received permission from the saint to do so.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
A cheer rose up from the assembled crowd, many making the sign of the cross to confirm their belief in what they had just witnessed. The unbeliever honored his word and converted. Several others who had shared his stubborn resistance also embraced this most marvelous proof of our Savior’s True Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
If one of God’s creatures, a donkey, was moved to kneel, how much more should it move us to have reverence and awe toward Jesus in the Holy Eucharist? Let us seek to grow in this important Gift of Fear of the Lord, so that we might experience a growing response of worship and praise before the God of heaven and earth, who desires to be in a relationship with us. “Ask and you shall receive” this essential gift in abundance.
Director of the Office for Catechesis and Evangelization
Published December 2019 Catholic Life issue
I experience the Gift of Fear of the Lord when I spend time in God’s creation. Through this, I experience the pure power, beauty and majesty of God. You can truly see and appreciate how great God is. It is amazing to consider that the same God who created the Milky Way or the Grand Canyon or any other natural wonder thought that the earth would be more beautiful with people. We are as unique and as valuable to God as any natural wonder. That is what gives me the most awe.
– Sarah Hundt
I understand the Gift of Fear of the Lord as a deep respect and awe for God and all that He is. My Fear of the Lord has naturally grown as God reveals more of Himself to me through time in prayer. I experience the Fear of the Lord most during the celebration of Mass, in adoration or prayer, in His beautiful creation of the outdoors and in small moments of my day when God reveals some aspect of His truth to me. This awe and respect for Him is gradually leading me to live my life, more and more, giving everything back to God simply for His praise. – Cole Byom
What the Gift of Fear of the Lord means in my life is being in utter awe of our Savior and Redeemer. Not only loving Him, but doing what He tells us or our parents tell us to do because we want to attain the happiness of heaven. The saints showed Fear of the Lord with their willingness to die rather than dishonor His holy name. – Sophia L.