Choose a topic from Part 2B:

125. Timidity or Cowardliness

1. Sin puts disorder into human acts. Now, fearwhich is ordinate, and in line with right reason, helps a man shunwhat he ought to shun; this is a good fear, not a sinful fear.Indeed, when such ordinate fear is imparted as a supernatural dowerto the soul, it is called the gift of fear; it is one of the sevengifts of the Holy Ghost. But inordinate fear leads a manto avoid what virtue requires him to face and endure. This is thesinful fear called cowardice or timidity.

2. Fear shrinks from what is apprehended as evil, andespecially from the physical evil of death. Fortitude stands up tosuch evils. It is evident, therefore, that sinful fear standsopposed to the virtue of fortitude.

3. Sinful fear is often a venial sin. But it can be amortal sin. It is mortal sin when it makes a man ready to violatedivine law in serious matters in order to escape what is feared.Thus the fear that leads a man to deny the faith rather than enduremartyrdom, is a mortally sinful fear.

4. Yet fear diminishes a man's responsibilitysomewhat, and, to that extent, excuses from sin. For fear is astress which bears on the will and hampers its free choice. What isdone from a motive of fear, however great, is indeedsimply voluntary, but at the same time is in somesense involuntary, since it would not be done except for thestress of fear. Hence, an act done through fear is a mixture ofvoluntary and involuntary. But it is voluntary enough to make a manresponsible, even for mortal sin.

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

* * *

"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

* * *

"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

* * *