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.

"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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