“. . .self-overthrow, false friend, root of remorse. . .ague of valor. . .love’s frost, the mint of lies”.
St. Robert Southwell
Priest and poet Robert Southwell lived in a time of fear. A fear that made his own father cave in to the pressures to join church of England. Maybe it was his mother’s strength that made him fall so much in love with the Catholic faith as to be a priest. Though he lived a quiet and non-political life his piety and works drew attention. Enough to get him arrested for being Catholic. He was tortured for his faith and was hanged at the age of 33 on Tyburn Hill in London because of it. It’s fair to say he knew fear and it taunted him each step of the way. He knew it so well as to unmask it so boldly and strongly.
St. Francis de Sales calls fear a greater evil than evil itself. And so it is for it stops us from being what we were made to be. It stops us for starting and from living. How much happiness and discovery is lost to fear? How much of ourselves do we betray out of fear? We are cowed by it and cornered and made to live so little of our potential. We taste but a drop of life and are always restlessly thirsting for more.
We can excuse it as prudence, manners and even logic. But we must never give fear virtue or it will rule our life and destroy our destinies. Of all the phrases in the New Testament that are spoken by our Lord “fear not” should our maxim. We are valued more than sparrows and he loves each one and knows each one. He tells us to “Fear not, only believe”. He banishes fear as any sort of option.
It’s alright to learn and make mistakes but it never right to fear life. We must live our lives with the spirit of generosity and love and those things can never live with fear. When the apostles were afraid Jesus touched them and said , “Arise, and fear not” When they looked up they saw only Him. We may, as weak and frightened creatures, need the reminder that we can’t face this world on our own. That we need to work on being able to truly live with the knowledge of an eternal and loving force that holds our hand unseen.
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” Let us work towards the love and wisdom to know that fear has no power over us that we do not give it. That we must do our best in all things and use our gifts and give our love endlessly. Fear is a “mint of lies”, we lie to ourselves so in never trying we will not fail. But we have failed if we let fear be our driving force. Wisdom will help us know our gifts and use them well. Love will have no excuses from us and will make all giving easy. It will give us the strength to face tortures big and small that the days may bring us but we will not dread the days, we will arise and smile and fear not.