When Fear of God Is Not Tranquil

Pouring of the Holy Ghost by Anthony van Dyck

Father Frassinetti reasons that, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of peace, order, and tranquility, it must follow that the fear of God, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, must likewise be peaceful, orderly, and tranquil. Consequently, “whenever you find that the fear of death, of the Divine judgment, and of hell disturbs you, confounds you, upsets you, so that you are deprived of peace, you should then judge that it is not a good fear, inspired by God.”

“When the fear of God is not tranquil, it impedes what is good and may do much evil.”

“Reflect now a little and with attention how spiritual things fare when you are agitated by inordinate fears and terrors. Is it not true that then your prayers are dry and distracted, so that you do not feel the usual consolation, and do not derive from it that vigour of resolution and purpose which you gain when you have prayed with a tranquil heart and a serene mind? Is it not true that confidence in obtaining the graces you ask for is wanting? Is it not true that the greater and more important these graces are so much the more your confidence diminishes?”

“And then what pitiable misery you endure when you approach the Blessed Sacrament! With these continual fears that you are not sufficiently well prepared, that you are not in proper dispositions, you lose yourself in so many useless thoughts and searchings and self-examinations that your soul becomes completely crushed—deprived of the consolation and of the strength which the fervour of a quiet and peaceful contrition gives. . . . The cruel thought that perhaps you are stained with hidden mortal sin, and are consequently in disfavour with our Lord Jesus, whom you are receiving into your heart, afflicts you, hinders your devotion, and extinguishes the affections of Divine love!”

“And may it not happen at last that you become weary of a devout life, because you find in it nothing but disquietude and bitterness—that you become negligent in prayer, and keep away from the most Holy Sacraments, as so many others have done, after having allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by excessive fears and tormenting disquietude?”

“Fly from such a danger as this, and preserve your tranquillity of heart.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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