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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER IV


OF THE HOLY FEAR OF GOD


He who fears not, shows that he has nothing to lose. The holy fear of God orders, governs, and rules the soul, and prepares it to receive his grace.

If a man possesses any grace or any divine virtue, it is holy fear which preserves it to him. And he who has not yet acquired grace or virtue, acquires it by holy fear.

The holy fear of God is a channel of divine grace, inasmuch as it quickly leads the soul wherein it dwells to the attainment of holiness and all divine graces. No creature that ever fell into sin would have so fallen had it possessed the holy fear of God. But this holy gift of fear is given only to the perfect, because the more perfect any man is, the more timorous and humble he is.

Blessed is the man who looks upon this world as his prisonhouse, and bears in mind continually how grievously he has offended his Lord.

Greatly ought a man to fear pride, lest it should give him a sudden thrust, and cause him to fall from the state of grace in which he is; for no man is ever secure from falling, so beset are we by foes; and these foes are the flatteries of this wretched world and of our own flesh, which, together with the devil, is the unrelenting enemy of our soul. A man has greater reason to fear being deluded and overcome by his own malice than by any other enemy. It is impossible for a man to attain to any divine grace or virtue, or to preserve therein, without holy fear.

He who has not the fear of God within him is in great danger of eternal perdition. The fear of God makes a man to obey humbly and to bow his head beneath the yoke of obedience: and the more a man fears God, the more frequently he adores him.

The gift of prayer is no small gift, to whomsoever it is given.

The virtuous actions of men, how great soever they may seem to us, are not to be reckoned or rewarded after our judgment, but according to the judgment and good pleasure of God; for God looketh not to the number of works, but to the measure of humility and love. Our surest way, therefore, is always to love and to keep ourselves in humility; and never to trust in ourselves that we do any good, but always to distrust the thoughts which spring up in our own mind under the appearance of good.


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