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.

"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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"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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