Choose a topic from Part 2A:

42. The Object of Fear

1. The proper object of fear is something oppressive, unwanted, harmful, which is imminent, and which one longs to avoid. This object may be the loss of a good which is possessed but threatened. Or it may be something good in itself (such as justice) which may operate to one's hurt.

2. Fear arises from the imagination of a future evil, and of evil envisioned as close at hand. What is feared is not yet actually present, but imagination makes it seem present, or nearly so. On the other hand, imagination may remove a fear of something to a distance, making it seem far off despite the fact that it is close at hand. Even a very old person, afflicted with disease and near to death, may think of death as far off, and so may have no fear of it. For, distant evils are not really feared. Even natural evils, such as death and bodily pain, are not feared until imagination presents them as imminent.

3. The evil of sin is the product of man's free choice, and hence is not properly the object of fear. Yet a man may fear external things, not subject to choice, which may lead him to sin. And, considering his own weakness as he imagines possible future trials, he may fear that he will sin.

4. Fear itself can be feared. A person can fear things that will cause fear, even if such things are not fearsome in themselves. Thus a legislator may fear to promote legislation, not extreme or frightening in itself, which might be used by unfriendly nations as the excuse or occasion for war.

5. Sometimes the suddenness with which a fearsome situation arises lends force and intensity to fear. Thus the very unexpectedness of menacing evil is an object of fear.

6. The threat of irremediable evils makes them peculiarly the object of fear. A military leader fears to lose any battle, even a skirmish. But he is doubly and trebly afraid of losing a decisive battle. A person fears the threat of injury or pain, but he fears much more the threat of death.

"The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"A tree that is cultivated and guarded through the care of its owner produces its fruit at the expected time. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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