In new Festival Letter, Bishop Jenky calls believers to a necessary ‘Fear of the Lord’

A holy fear of the Lord is necessary for all Christian believers, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, repeatedly emphasizes in a new teaching document published in the Jan. 6 issue of The Catholic Post.

“It seems to me that reverence and awe before Almighty God is necessary for all of us, especially in these godless, secular days,” writes the bishop in an introduction to “Fear of the Lord,” his 17th Festival Letter to the Diocese of Peoria.

In the 1,700-word document, Bishop Jenky cites numerous Scripture passages as well as the writings of saints to explain why a fear of the Lord is “among the most precious gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

“To rightly fear the Lord is to entirely surrender our existence to His limitless power and ravishing love,” writes Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in his new Festival Letter. (The Catholic Post file photo)

While throughout life we learn prudent fears — of hot stoves, dangerous drugs, and bad choices, for example — a holy fear of God is “much more important in life than mere caution or ordinary prudence,” the bishop writes.

“The Hebrew and Greek words used in the Scriptures to describe holy fear indicate a range of meaning from sheer terror, to immense awe, to deepest reverence before the Lord who is by definition infinite, eternal, and omnipotent,” says Bishop Jenky.

Unless we respond to God with profound awe and faith-filled obedience to his commandments, we run the risk of reducing the “One True God . . . to a kind of tame and invented deity, invoked only on our own terms, usually just to ritualize our happy or sad occasions.”

But a right fear of the Lord and standing before “the invincible power of His Cross” can liberate us from all other fears, the bishop teaches.

“Even in the face of troubles, sickness, wars, natural disasters, persecutions, scandals, or betrayals, our ultimate peace can rest securely in the God who is truly Almighty,” he writes.

Since his installation as Bishop of Peoria in 2002, Bishop Jenky has issued an annual Festival Letter on or near the Feast of the Epiphany to teach on a specific topic as well as announce the dates for various feasts of the Liturgical Year.

To read “Fear of the Lord” on The Catholic Post’s e-edition, click here and page to the special section at the end.

The full text is also available here.

A downloadable version of the Festival Letter will also be posted soon on the diocesan website.

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