Fear of the Lord:
This gift enables a person “to avoid sin and attachment to created things out of reverence and love of God.” Primarily, this gift entails a profound respect for the majesty of God who is the supreme being. Here, a person realizes his “creatureliness” and dependency upon God, has a true “poverty of spirit,” and never would want to be separated from God, who is love. As such, this gift arouses in the soul a vibrant sense of adoration and reverence for God and a sense of horror and sorrow for sin.
This gift of fear of the Lord is sometimes misunderstood because of the word “fear.” “Fear of the Lord” is not a servile fear whereby a person serves God simply because he fears punishment, whether some sort of temporal punishment in this life or the eternal punishment of hell. A genuine relationship with God is based on love, not fear. Therefore, this “fear of the Lord” is a filial or reverential fear that moves a person to do God’s will and avoid sin because of love for God, who is all good and deserving of all of our love. In a similar way, a child should not be motivated to obey a parent simply because of fear of punishment, but because of love and respect; a person who loves someone does not want to disappoint or to break the other person’s heart. One should fear hurting a loved one and violating that person’s trust more than one should fear punishment.
Gift of Piety: Now we address the gift of piety. Remember Pope St. Gregory taught, “Through fear of the Lord, we rise to piety.” The basic definition is “to give filial worship to God precisely as our Father and to relate with all people as children of the same Father.” Here a person shows reverence for God as a loving Father, and respects others as children of God precisely because that is what we all are.
We must not forget that through baptism, we have been reborn as a child of God. St. Paul taught, “All who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. You did not receive a spirit of slavery leading you back into fear, but a spirit of adoption through which we cry out, ‘Abba!’ (that is, ‘Father’). The Spirit himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God. But if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him,” (Rom 8:14-17). To appreciate this teaching, remember that “abba” is the diminutive, familiar word of the more formal father; a better translation might be “daddy.” The same holds for the “Our Father,” whereby Jesus Himself taught us to pray, addressing His Father as “Abba.”