A little healthy fear and dread

Dante’s Inferno, illustrated and explained

To fear the day of judgment,
to dread hell.
(Rule of Benedict 4.44-45)

Americans flock to thrillers and enjoy heart-stopping amusement rides – but want nothing of fear in their religion.  “”Do we really mean ‘fear’ or just the highest respect?” someone asked

StBenedict really means fear and dread. Not cringing fear before an erratic despot, but the realistic fear of turning from God into evil. Parents want their children to cook but fear stoves, to walk but fear busy streets. 

“Allow a healthy fear of  seeing God face-to-face help you avoid temptation,” he says.  Sometimes we do good for goodness’ sake.  Other times, we need to be reminded of the alternative.


Tooling Through Lent is a series of brief reflections on Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict, The Tools for Good Works.

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About Sister Edith

Benedictine sister of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota
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