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Bishop Sheen: We Fear the Wrong Things

November 20, 2010

Working on my paper for my Intro to Theology class, I turned to Bishop Sheen’s book, Life Is Worth Living, the transcripts from his 1950’s television program. I needed a Catholic view point on emotions and one of the segments was called “Fear and Anxieties.” Perfect! It’s a good segment through and through, and I’d like to quote here part of his conclusion:

If we only knew it, we are fearing the wrong things. We used to fear God; now we fear our fellow man. The negative side of fear is dread, but the positive side is longing. Once such an individual turns to God, his fear turns to yearning and he discovers peace.

… Without God, souls have misery but not mercy; they have the wounds, but not the Physician. Misery is anxiety without God; Mercy is anxiety with God.

When there is only servile fear, God seems to be Wrath. To every criminal a judge seems severe. Once, however, we turn from sin, He Who seemed to be Wrath is actually Mercy. God seems Wrath only to those who refuse to make use of His Forgiveness.

When we say we fear God, we mean we shrink from hurting One Whom we love. But to love that way is to banish all servile fear. That is what the Scriptures mean in saving, “Perfect love casteth out fear.”

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