Fear of the Lord seems to be the most misunderstood of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is referred to as awe or wonder. These interior dispositions are necessary for us to show reverence to God and are effects of this gift. However, they don’t seem to capture the essence of this gift. Fear of the Lord perfects the theological virtue of hope and the cardinal virtue of temperance. Hope is the virtue that anchors us in God and sustains us on our journey to heaven. Temperance enables us to use created goods rightly and steadies our desires and emotions.
The gift of fear of the Lord enables us to see God as a loving Father and puts His love at the center of our lives. Therefore, we begin to live life differently and recognize sin, not as a punishment, but rather as our way of turning away from what is good.
These virtues, coupled with the gift, lead us to a more profound friendship with God and enable us to fully live the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).