What Ever Happened to “Reverence?”

Reverence

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Piety (Reverence): With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence
recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we
pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.

I’m reading duty as obedience…

At first thought when I think of reverence, I think of honor, respect, dignity-I think of honoring God in respecting His creation-especially His creation of
life in every form. When one contemplates reverence to God and His creation it becomes obvious for example, that a human growing in a mother’s womb is not
a “choice”-it’s a life created by God-and, of all forms, the MOST precious at that, made in HIS image. Reverence is what makes this obvious. Throwing away
reverence makes it possible to do and think the most horrors of horrors…

Malachi 2:5
My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, which I gave him; this called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name.

Hebrews 12:28
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;

Psalm 130:4
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence (fear), serve you.

where has all the reverence gone?? Seems like no one likes to hear the word “fear” or reverence anymore.

has there been an awakening…one that led us to discover there’s no more need for devout reverence. If so, is that true? Does God want less reverence from us
these days, because the times are supposedly different? In this era of new ideas that we are making our own new quote unquote “truths” does the Gospel change?
Jesus is now our friend right? We don’t normally revere friends. Does God want us to simply call Him friend now, or has a great falling away occurred? What happened?

John 15:15
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My
Father I have made known to you.

Friend…Jesus is our friend. This is wonderful “Good News” for us. But does this or should this take away our reverence? Did something change recently or maybe
during the 2000 years or so since this was written? We’ve been given soo much. Thousands of years of revelation-God making Himself known to us…we have the
incredible gift of 73 books (Scripture), and the gift of the Church for 2000 years revealing the Holy Spirit to us…We’re soo blessed to live in this time. With
knowing God soo well. But do we really? Really know Him? After all that, do we actually know Him less?? At a time like no other, where He makes Himself soo known
to us, it seems that He’s turned away
from like no other time…

We call ourselves Christians, but how much do we REALLY know Him…or WANT to know Him?

Have you ever asked at a table before eating: “havn’t we forgotten to thank the Lord?”
I saw Julie Andrews say this on the “Sound of Music” recently, and I thought boy, how far have we gotten?

But then I heard Gabby Douglas (the 16 year old gold medalist with the whole world listening) she said: “I give the glory to God and His blessings came down on me.”
Reverence: giving honor and the glory to God.

Glory-yes, that’s it! The glory is God’s!! Not mine… This is so much a truth for us that it struck me like a ton of bricks when I heard again
recently, that GLORY is His NAME! You see there’s an ego element that stands in the way between us and God. Pride.
Pride wants our own will and our ways over His will and ways. Pride leads to disobedience and disobedience to irreverence. Back to the issue of an unborn child
for example: we’re not owners of our children-God is! The “choice” is God’s… Without God, our selfishness prevails over God.
Does the choice of aborting a child give Glory to God? How can we call this choice?

Ps 23
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For HIS name’s sake. (NOT MINE!)

even Psalm 23 is about HIS Name sake, not mine.

He knows what’s best for us…even though it may not be clear in our life time to our ego…HE knows the purpose-that’s what matters.

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for THEIRS is the kingdom of heaven.
This means those who rely on God, not their earthly riches. (Reliance on the Lord) Knowing how much I need God naturally leads to reverence and brings awe into my
life.

St Frances De Salles wrote: “woe to those who are rich in spirit. for their portion will be nil. If you possess them, preserve your heart from loving them.”

So on the issue of pride, the opposite end might be humility. Humility should lead to obedience and then reverence.

But how does this reverence manifest in our everyday lives? Is it practical in any way to have reverence to God in our lives?

Somewhere I heard that “action is what separates a belief from an opinion.” Maybe it was Bishop Sheen.

But how can reverence become action? Firstly, we need a reality check. We need to come to realize that God didn’t bless us sooo unimaginably more so than the
billions who struggle daily for a handful of rice to survive; he didn’t bless us with sooo much more because He loves us more! We didn’t earn or deserve our
blessings more than they. He entrusted us to DO SOMETHING with our lives. Something BIG, cause we’re blessed big. Big time!

In its most simple manifestation, reverence is basically acknowledging God. Maybe we can start there. I’d like share some examples of this in our worldly
adventures.

I was asked once, to appraise a house in the Lake Hopatcong area. It was a very small 2 bedroom house on a tiny lot a few blocks from the lake. At first I
couldn’t find it, because I could barely see it. It was small, and over growth consumed it. I could not step at all in the yard. It was uninhabited for years.
I’m always fearful when entering these homes, but strangely, a bit excited with interest at the same time. Wonder and awe fills my heart. Wonder about the memories
there, the times shared, the meals, the lives…This little house was condemned, having huge openings in the kitchen roof, and no systems were operable. Bu t the
inside was swept totally clean, maybe even vacuumed. Everything was removed, every utensil, rug, doormat-everything. I was amazed. Usuallythings are scattered
everywhere, or at least some things are forgotten, or just not cleaned or discarded perfectly like that. But then I realized something was indeed there. It felt
a little like something was watching me as I spoke to the bank man and took my notes. It hit me as I completed my inspection. It was a golden crucifix hanging in
the center of the house above the fireplace in the living room. I was taken aback that it was left behind. Then I thought of all the people who might have entered
the house over the years of it being vacant. Did no one see any value it it? Didn’t anyone respect it enough to protect it from the elements? It was obvious to
most anyone that this house would be demolished-did anyone care about this cross? Then I suddenly saw this Bible on the top of the mantle. I picked it up, saw the
handwritten names, and dates entered into it. Sad thoughts filled my heart. There were at least a few people related to this Sacred Book, but no one had enough
reverence for it to merely save it from being dishonorably destroyed. What was meant to be a family heirloom, was the only thing not worth taking!!

Reverence begins by acknowledging God. This is different for each of us, and in each of our very different paths, but it is nonetheless, acknowledging God.

The more I pondered this, I realized it’s an acknowledgment of the holiness of the moment. The present moment. The presence of God in that moment-in every moment.
We experience the mystery of an encounter with the Holy Spirit when our hearts recognize the arrival..

In January, we had a bus at Good Council Church to take us to Wash DC for the annual March for the unborn’s right to live. The bus was full and Fr Paul planned to
celebrate Mass before we left the Church. There were only about 4 or 5 people at the Mass. When I met the man sitting with me on the bus I found out that nearly
all were from the other Catholic Church across town (Fatima, the Latin rite congregation). I asked why he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate
Mass. He said, “yes, we did, at our church.” I asked why and after a bit of a pause, he explained. He said that though he loves his brothers/sisters in the
faith, he would not, nor would the rest of the parish, expose their children to irreverence-the irreverence that’s abounding in this and most other churches. He
gave a couple examples and said that his children have never been exposed to that and it would be shocking, and very dangerous to their faith. He too, would not
want to be a witness to it.

Psalm 5:7
But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward
your holy temple. … I will bow toward your holy temple in reverence of you. …

Leviticus 19:30
You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the ..

How about reverence to the precious Word of God? Do we revere the Word? Do we encourage others to?
A couple weeks ago, at a big conference a man I knew read the Gospel at one point before the entire body of people. He read it with great reverence, powerfully
moving for anyone whoever would open their hearts. Just afterwards I ran into him and he was happy to see me. I complimented his reading, saying that THAT”S the
manner God wants his Good News proclaimed. I noticed he began to cry. He said through his tears that it’s simply to be read with all your heart. The Gospel-the
Good News-has infinite bounds-it has no boundaries. It goes forth throughout the universe, throughout all time and it’s profoundness will never be exhausted. Never
will there be a finite time where the Gospel will be completely known by man. It’s too big. each day unknown numbers of people teach, preach, uncover, discover,
delight, become bitter or better, or come to share in the glory of Him who’s Name is Glory. It’s a “living” thing, that gives life. It’s alive and all about life…
Is that awesome? do we have reverence for it? to it?

Are we irreverent to it? But Jesus is our friend, isn’t He? Does that change reverence?

In a strange paradox, the immediate examples of reverence in my life that come to mind, have been from the poorest people I’ve ever known. the paradox is that a
couple ofthem may not be Christians. I shared once about the taxi driver I hired in Morocco when I decided I would seek out a Mass on a vacation. It was dark, no
street lights anywhere, and I’d never find my way anyplace with the street names they had. But a kind man picked me up, and as I explained I’d be possibly an hour
he said “no problem-same price.” Inside I remember complaining to myself that there were no kneelers. When I left the church, I found the beaten poor man, lying
prostrate on the filthy dirt street face down, in deep prayer. He humbled me in his reverence that moment, more than the entire hour in Mass. He brought me closer
to God by his reverence.

In Mozambique, Africa I was able to go to the front of the line for food each meal, and not have to wait like the native people. I felt awkward about that, but did
it anyway. One Saturday night, I got my rice and a few beans again while at least 50 men waited on line in the dark. They were studying at the compound to be
ministers. I went inside to eat and I just couldn’t take eating this same thing again after a few bites. My friend said get out there and give it to a person on
line. I said, I wrestled with it with my fork, no one’s gonna want this. She said ” oh yes they will.” In the light that shined from the dim light bulb over the
pot of rice I could see the men standing on line. None had shoes but this one man who was next on line always had a nice collared shirt and dress pants. Always
the same ones and very clean looking. I wondered how he did it. He dragged one leg as he walked with a crutch. I thought I remember someone say he had impetigo.
I motioned with my plate and he acknowledged with a beaming smile. I scraped my half eaten rice n beans onto his plate topping the portion he was already given.
He then kneeled on his one leg bowing to me…I nodded back as I scampered back inside. Then his act of reverence hit me so hard that I laid down and had to press
my face against a pillow in tears. Jesus, in the disguise of a poor, handicapped man, BOWED to me.

Reverence moves hearts! I’ll never be the same…

Then last summer, one beautiful morning I was heading to South Jersey. I planned a day of leisure, a day of luxury with my cousin. Biking, boating then eating and
drinking in his mc mansion. I promised I’d bring some pastries from Paterson. With a box of them on my seat and a doughnut and coffee in hand I left Paterson. My
heart anticipated another great day. Then at a red light on Union Blvd I noticed a person reaching deeply into a garbage can. I thought maybe something was
dropped by
mistake. But when he went to another I noticed the shabby clothes. I pulled over putting down my food. I called out twice. Then I saw this was a young woman in
shabby cloths and hair tucked under an old baseball cap. When I handed her money, she bowed with praying hands profusely, She kept going up and then down lower in
her bow. I felt awkward that if I drove away she may be still there bowing. I was again profoundly moved by her reverence. She brought God into the moment. Or,
more accurately, she ACKOWLEDGED God in the moment. I will never forget her dirty smeared, joy filled face.

These people acted with reverence. They chose reverence. This is contagious, just as irreverence is.

Abraham Lincoln said that “if there’s anything that links the human to the divine, it is the courage to stand by a principle when everybody rejects it….again, may
I ask, do you say grace in a restaurant?

Yes, Jesus is our friend…our dearest friend. But if that friend gave His life for us, and gave us eternal life, you can be sure that He deserves utmost reverence.
We need to do away with the notion that reverence means distance from God. It’s exactly the opposite. The more you practice it, the closer friend you will have
in Jesus.
Acknowledge your weakness to Him, lean on Him. Acknowledge HIM…Acknowledge Him to others! LOVE HIM… This is reverence.

All glory to the Lord.

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