Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Fear to End All Fears

Finally we will come in an offertory procession, and our procession will meet God’s procession, and he and we will be one. This offering of ourselves, if and when it comes, must come out of our own freedom. When it comes it will change everything.

Fear will depart. Whereas before, the poustinik was often beset by fears and the devil was sniffing all around the poustinia, now it no longer matters because the poustinik knows he has power over the devil. Where there is kenosis there is no fear.

I meditated quite a bit on fear when I lived in Harlem. Was Christ afraid? In Gethsemane he certainly should have been. If he was like us in everything except sin, I can’t imagine that he was without fear. He prayed that the chalice would pass from him, but only if it was in accord with his Father’s will. You sense some kind of fear there, and you are glad in a way. Glad because he is so very much like us. It makes you feel good. In the same breath, however, we must remember that he got up and went on to Calvary. His fear did not stop his accomplishing his Father’s will.

I remember that when I finished this little meditation in Harlem those many years ago, I ceased to be afraid. I ceased to be afraid because I faced the fact that I might really be killed any day. Perhaps it’s when we have accepted the reality

of death, like Christ did, that fear ceases and we reach a real depth of kenosis.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Poustinia

Reflection – It is a worthwhile meditation sometimes to look at this whole reality of ‘fear’ in our lives – our own personal life, and in the general life of humanity.

How much of human life is driven by fear? Quite a bit, I suspect. It’s not a question of overt quaking terror, living in a state of constant trembling panic. Of course not. But an awful lot of people (and I hardly excuse myself from the list) seek out their comfort zones pretty adamantly, and work very hard to stay in those comfort zones.

So people who are afraid of not being in control of everything expend huge energy manipulating, controlling, bullying everyone around them. People who are afraid of intimacy and emotional vulnerability expend huge energy building facades of cool ironic detachment or chilly impersonal efficiency. People who are afraid of want of any kind spend their whole lives amassing personal fortunes beyond anything they actually need. People who are afraid of being done in physically or psychologically by others expend great energy on aggression and dominant behavior. People who are terrified of being alone half kill themselves to stay sexually attractive and break the moral law without scruple if only to have that little bit of validation and intimate companionship.

It’s all fear-based behavior, isn’t it? All based on the idea that the most terrible, the most evil thing that can happen to me is ‘________’ (insert your answer here). And so do anything, spend anything, sacrifice anything to avoid _________.

It is all fear, and it is all essentially the worship of a false God. Because of course the worst evil, ultimately the only true evil, is to lose our communion with God. To sin, to cease to love in truth and in whole, and in obedience to how God has taught us to love, which is His moral law. This is the only real and lasting evil in our lives, and that is indeed the only thing we should fear.

This is the ‘fear of the Lord’ that is the first stage of wisdom. Not a cringing fear of a punitive God who will send us to Hell if we displease Him. It is a fear that comes out of true love of God, a true apprehension that God and our communion with God is all what most matters in life, that any other good only remains good if it is grounded in this primary Good, and that all lesser goods are echoes, reflections, and preparatory stages for this one lasting and eternal good.

So of course we should be willing to die, and certainly willing to suffer, for the sake of this one true good. Willing to do anything, spend anything, sacrifice anything for it. And all the other fears are driven away by this one fear, which is not really fear in essence, but love.
So I leave you with that to ponder for the next week. I am going tonight into silent retreat from Monday to Friday. God willing, I’ll be back on the blog Saturday. Pray for me, and know that I will be praying for you in the grand silence of the poustinia, where (please God) perfect love will wash away all fear, and ‘God alone suffices’ for life.


  1. Monday to Friday is a long time without you. I had something substantive to say, but now I will just say that I am praying for you and will miss you and your bloggins. What is true does not make me an egomaniac, but what is true is that you were a present to me from God (Mama orchestrated it) because I needed the right spiritual director with wisdom, knowledge and virtue, who understood my spirituality that predated my Catholic conversion and makes no real sense to many Catholics. And they knew I would also appreciate the cr@p out of your character and personality, which I do. That I have all that is pretty cool, but the fact that I have your writings all the time is kind of like a plant that is always blooming. I am praying for a great retreat for you, and I am looking forward to having you back.

    1. Thanks, Jacque! I badly need the reteat, so it should be good. Silence and prayer, alleluia!


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