Fear

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

November 25, 2017

Mob Action on Knoxville Avenue

I have a client — I’ll call him John — who was recently injured when his pickup truck crashed into a car that pulled out in front of him on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria. The collision occurred on a weekday at about 4:45 p.m., near the intersection of Knoxville and McClure. John is a construction worker and was on his way home from work at the time of the collision.

Immediately after John’s truck crashed into the car, two young women jumped out of the car and began screaming at John, insisting that the collision was his fault. There were two other women who also got out of the car, but stayed nearby while they made some calls on their mobile phones.

Within five minutes, the area was swarming with people who were associated with the four women who were in the car. Several of the people started yelling at John, so he quickly moved away from the area where the collision occurred. Concerned about his safety, he called some of his coworkers and asked them if they would come and stay with him until the police arrived.

Shortly after John called his coworkers, several of them showed up in their trucks and parked about a block away from the scene of the collision. By then, there was a mob of people with the four women, many of whom were shouting at John. Finally, a couple of City of Peoria police officers arrived and dispersed the crowd.

After questioning John and the women who were in the car, the investigating police officer issued a traffic ticket to the driver of the car.

Later, after John got home, he began feeling the effects of the collision. His neck and back were hurting, and he had a severe headache. A few days later, he was still experiencing pain and headaches, so he called and scheduled an appointment with his doctor. By the time he came to see me, he had already seen his doctor and was scheduled to begin physical therapy for his injuries.

April 29, 2017

How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

I’ve written before about Matt Furey, a former collegiate wrestling champion and the gold-medal winner of the 1997 world title in kung fu. I met Matt in 2002, when I joined a marketing mastermind group of 20 business owners. The group met three times a year in Phoenix for two days each time.

At the meetings, each of the members of the group had a chance to stand up in front of the group and showcase the marketing we were doing and to bring up any issues we were concerned about in our businesses. The group leader and members provided useful feedback, and all of us benefited from the wide range of knowledge and skills that the members possessed.

On one occasion, Matt told a story about his friend, Dr. Tom Hanson, who had a transformative experience while he was climbing a mountain in Colorado. After Hanson climbed halfway up the mountain, he became fearful and his mind locked up on him. All of a sudden, it felt as though the side of the mountain had turned into an ice rink on its side.

Hanson yelled up to the coach who was leading him and the other climbers, “I can’t do it.” The coach looked down at him and said, “Look at your feet.” Hanson looked down at his feet and the coach yelled, “Which foot is higher than the other foot, your left or your right?” Hanson replied that his left foot was higher. The coach then yelled, “Okay, then move the right foot so it’s higher than the left foot.”

After Hanson did what the coach told him to do, the coach shouted, “Now which foot is higher than the other foot?” Hanson replied that the right foot was higher. “Okay, then move the left foot until it’s higher than the right foot,” the coach shouted. Eventually, by continuing to follow the process that the coach had introduced to him, Hanson successfully climbed the mountain.

April 22, 2017

An Anxiety-Ridden Society

In anticipation of writing this article, I Googled the word “anxiety.” The results showed that within the previous 24 hours, there were more than three dozen articles posted on the internet about anxiety. Here are some titles of those articles:

•   “America’s New ‘Anxiety’ Disorder”

•   “Most Children With Anxiety Relapse, Regardless of Treatment”

•   “Early Intervention Program Tackles Anxiety in Primary Care”

•   “Poor Sleep in Anxiety, Depression May Make It Harder to See Positive”

•   “Post-Election, Doctors See Kids Suffering Trump-Related Anxiety”

•   “How to Find a Good Job for Yourself When You Have Anxiety”

•   “Can Hypnosis Improve Post-Op Anxiety Pain in Children?”

•   “‘Game of Thrones’ Star Lena Headey Tweets With Fans About Anxiety”

As I scrolled through the Google results pages, I saw more than 250 articles that were published within the past 30 days about anxiety.

Why so many articles about anxiety?

It seems as though everywhere I turn, someone is talking or writing about anxiety. On Facebook, numerous people post comments about their own anxiety. In their anguish, they often reveal shocking and embarrassing details about their family situations and what they are personally experiencing.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders, costing the U.S. more than $42 billion a year.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has reported that anxiety disorders often cause chronic pain and other ailments such as migraines, instability, weakness, muscle pain, fatigue, and persistent aches or stiffness anywhere along the spine, including “sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, especially after lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activity; and chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods.”

September 10, 2016

An Icon of the Good Samaritan

mother-teresa-and-childThe number one Catholic in the world, Pope John Paul II, called her “an icon of the Good Samaritan.” The number one atheist in the United States, Christopher Hitchens, called her “a religious fundamentalist, a political operative, [and] a primitive sermonizer.” Planned Parenthood called her a “very successful old and withered person, who doesn’t look in the least like a woman.”

That old and withered, primitive sermonizer was canonized as a saint on September 4, 2016, by Pope Francis.

During her lifetime, she was known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Today, she is known as Saint Teresa of Kolkata (the name of the city Calcutta, India, was changed to Kolkata in 2001).

You’ve probably heard of the Singing Nun. Mother Teresa was the Smiling Nun.

Susan Conroy was a 21-year-old American college student when she started working with Mother Teresa. She later wrote a book, Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity. In a recent article that was published in the National Catholic Register, “Willing Hands, Loving Heart,” Susan wrote about Mother Teresa’s joyful spirit:

Mother Teresa used to say that “a smile is the beginning of love.” A spirit of joy, as seen in a smile, was so important to Mother Teresa. She used to say, “We will never know just how much good a simple smile can do.” 

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Mother Teresa made it sound so easy! If you have hands and a heart, you can do it! There was actually one more thing you needed in order to help this saint serve the poorest of the poor: Besides a smile, you had to come with a spirit of cheerfulness. Mother Teresa explained that many of those whom she and the sisters served were physically or mentally ill; they were lepers, abandoned children, the dying and the lonely. She said that if we went to them with a sad face, we would only make them more depressed. So come with a smile! Come with joy!

May 7, 2016

Responding to a Raging Critic

criticLast week I received a letter from a man who felt compelled to put me in my place. One of his comments pertained to my recent article, A Gunfighter Rides Into Peoria. In that article, I described what happened during a recent trial that I was involved in. Here’s what the man said about my article:

[Y]ou disparaged the character of a fellow attorney by stating that he didn’t care about his client and only cared about money … only the wonderful lawyer Mr. Williams cares about his clients. And then you go on to write about humility! Again, what would Jesus say? “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)

The man obviously misread what I had written. It was not a fellow attorney that I said did not care about his client. It was a neurosurgeon from Rockford, Illinois, who was hired as an “expert witness” to testify against my client. The neurosurgeon was the person who I claimed did not care about my client and only cared about the money he was being paid to testify.

Later in his letter, the man wrote about some “unscrupulous lawyers” who mistreated him and his family members. He then implied that I needed to work on my “narcissism” and closed his letter by stating, “Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.”

I’m not sure why he’s looking forward to hearing from me, considering the fact that he sent a letter that was dripping with sarcasm and contempt toward me.

I periodically receive letters from people who are upset about something I’ve written. The people who write the letters usually fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Irritation. There are occasions when a person is irritated about something I’ve written and wants to either correct me or give me an opinion as to why I was wrong about what I wrote. Usually the person is courteous and respectful in the way he or she communicates with me.
  2. Anger. When a person is angry with me about something I’ve written, the person is usually more aggressive in the way he or she criticizes me. The person usually expresses an opinion as to why I’m wrong and then proceeds to tell me what I should have written.
  3. Rage. When a person is outraged by something I’ve written, in addition to aggressively stating why I was wrong about what I wrote, the person launches into a personal attack against me by questioning my motives and attacking my character.

The definition of “rage” is “a strong feeling of anger that is difficult to control” or “a sudden expression of violent anger.” In my opinion, the man who sent the letter to me that I quoted from above was in a state of rage when he wrote the letter.

April 2, 2016

The Departure of a Hero

HeroOn a Thursday evening during the summer of 1971, my dad and I went to Limestone Community High School in Bartonville, Illinois, to register me for the upcoming school year. I had graduated from St. Mark’s Catholic School in May, which was the end of what I considered an eight-year prison term.

I got off to a bad start at St. Mark’s. My first-grade teacher was Sister Lorken, a cruel and unforgiving religious sister who had no business teaching children. Because I had trouble learning how to read, Sister Lorken regularly singled me out for verbal abuse in front of my classmates. She also periodically physically abused me by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me while she yelled at me. At the end of the school year, Sister Lorken recommended to my parents that I be held back. My parents refused her request and insisted that I be allowed to advance to the second grade.

My second grade teacher was Sister Eduarda, who was also very abusive. Unlike today, the mindset of some of the teachers during the 1960s was that the only way to handle young boys who were not performing up to expectations was to ridicule them and, when necessary, use corporal punishment to force them to conform.

During my seventh and eighth grade years, classes were split up between two seventh grade teachers and two eighth grade teachers, one of whom was Sister Theogene. She was as bad as Sister Lorken and Sister Eduarda.

There was one memorable occasion that occurred during the first month of seventh grade. One day while I was walking in the hallway on my way to class, Sister Theogene attacked me from behind and started hitting me on the back of my head with an open hand. As she was hitting me, she yelled at me because my shirt was untucked in back. I was not aware that the back of my shirt had become untucked while I had been sitting in my previous class.

October 18, 2014

Halloween, Ebola, and a Saint

Halloween - BooIt’s that time of year again.  Halloween is right around the corner and a lot of people are scared.  Our so-called leaders walk around as though they are zombies whose purpose is to destroy our nation.  Every decision they make is the exact opposite of what a reasonable, rational person would decide.  What’s even scarier is the sheep-like behavior of the masses who wander about, clueless as to what’s going on around them.

On Friday (October 17), my wife and I went to a restaurant for dinner.  When the host handed me the small device that vibrates and buzzes when the table is ready, the first thought that popped into my mind was: What if this thing had the Ebola virus on it?  Every person who touches it tonight could become infected with the virus.

Next week, I’m flying out of Chicago to Pennsylvania.  The last thing I want to do is go to an airport where I’ll come into contact with thousands of strangers.  Worse than that is the fact that I’m going to get on a plane with 300 strangers where we’ll all be forced to breathe in the stale air and germs that are circulated throughout the pressurized cabin for at least two hours.

Until last week, the know-nothings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were saying that the incubation period for the Ebola virus is 21 days.  Now they’re admitting that they really don’t know how long the incubation period is.  Experts are now conceding that the virus can be spread with minimal contact between people.

On Thursday (October 16), three schools in Texas were closed so workers could “thoroughly clean and disinfect the schools and busses.”  Apparently there were five students who were exposed to Thomas Eric Duncan, the original Ebola patient who flew from Liberia to Dallas, so he could get treatment for his condition.

September 17, 2014

Harnessing the Power of Fear

FearThere’s a prayer that we learned when we were in second grade that we recite every time we receive the sacrament of reconciliation.  Despite our familiarity with the prayer, most of us aren’t aware of the hidden meaning of the prayer.  I’m referring to the Act of Contrition which begins with the following sentence:

“Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.”

There are two different types of fear that are present in the first sentence of the Act of Contrition.  Do you know what those two types of fear are?  Read the sentence again and attempt to figure out what I’m talking about.

The two types of fear are servile fear and filial fear.  Fr. John A. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary describes servile and filial fear as follows:

•    Servile Fear: Selfish fear based on the dread of pain to oneself that would follow if another were offended.  It is the fear of punishment for wrongdoing, without being motivated by honor or a sense of duty, and least of all by love.

•    Filial Fear: Fear of some impending evil based on love and reverence for the one who is feared.  Actually filial fear is closer to love that dreads offending the one loved.  Thus the filial fear of God is compatible with the highest love of God.  A person, knowing his or her moral weakness, fears that he or she might displease or betray the one who is loved.  It is selfless fear.

Both fears — servile and filial — have value.  But which is better, (1) to be sorry for your sins because you fear that you may lose Heaven and end up in hell, or (2) to be sorry for your sins because they offend God, who is deserving of all your love?

August 23, 2014

A Different Perspective on the Robin Williams Suicide

Robin WilliamsAfter the recent suicide of the famous American actor and comedian Robin Williams, various reasons were given to explain why he killed himself. Some of the reasons included the fact that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, suffered from severe depression, and was having money problems. For whatever reason, at the age of 63, Williams ended his life after determining that he was better off dead than alive.

To put Robin Williams’ suffering into perspective, I would like you to consider another “old man” who despite enduring immense suffering refused to give up. His name was Alphonsus Liguori, a Catholic saint who during the prime of his life was a well-known and respected Catholic bishop, theologian, and scholastic philosopher. During his lifetime, St. Alphonsus wrote several books, including The Glories of Mary, The Way of Salvation, The True Spouse of Christ, and Sermons for All the Sundays in the Year.

In 1767, at the age of 71, suffering from rheumatism, St. Alphonsus became so crippled that he had to be confined to a wheelchair. His neck was so weak that he was unable to hold up his head. Because of the weight of his head, his chin constantly rubbed against his chest, causing his skin to become raw.

In addition to his physical suffering, St. Alphonsus was publicly humiliated and removed from his order after it was shown that he had signed a religious document that was contrary to the teachings of the Church. The signing of the document was a mistake in judgment and was due in part to the fact that St. Alphonsus’ condition had deteriorated to such an extent that he was almost completely blind.

He had trouble reading anything, and when he was asked to approve the document, St. Alphonsus struggled to read the first page. After he read several lines and found nothing that was objectionable, he verified the authenticity of the document by signing it. He trusted the person who asked him to sign the document. He subsequently paid a heavy price for that trust.

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