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.

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"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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