What is the Gift of Piety?
The gift of Fear of the Lord arouses in the soul a vibrant sense of adoration and reverence for God and a sense of horror and sorrow for sin. Whereas, Pope Francis teaches us, “Piety is having an authentic religious spirit, a filial confidence in God, and a capacity to pray to Him with love and simplicity which is proper of persons who are humble of heart. The gift of piety makes us grow in our relation and communion with God. It leads us to live as His children. It helps us to pour this love also on others and to recognize them as brothers.”
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 have been given a spirit of adoption through which we cry out, ‘Abba!’. We are children of God. 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 better translated as “Daddy.” In the “Our Father,” Jesus Himself teaches us to pray, addressing His Father as “Abba.”
The gift of piety fosters the following spiritual dispositions:
- a filial respect for God as a loving Father;
- a generous and childlike love, so that a person wants to please God, even if it means making sacrifices; like coming to Mass even if it is inconvenient or difficult
- and a loving obedience toward the teachings and commandments, respecting them as expressions of God’s love for us.
Piety also makes us love and have affection for “God’s friends” — the Blessed Mother Mary, the saints and the angels; or “God’s representatives” who exercise His authority — the Holy Father, the bishop, our parents; and all “God’s treasures” — the Bible, the church, or blessed religious objects.
As such, the gift of piety perfects the virtue of justice. It enables the individual to fulfill his obligations to God and neighbor, and to do so willingly and joyfully. With piety, the person is not only motivated by the requirements of strict justice but also by the loving relationship he shares with his neighbor. Simply, a person wants to do what is right in the eyes of God, respecting lawful superiors, as well as a humble respect for peers and subordinates.
The best way to cultivate the gift of piety is:
- To pray the Our Father with reverence and devotion; taking time to meditate on the different petitions given in this prayer.
- To sanctify our work; being mindful that whatever we do can be made into an offering to the Lord. Piety truly can help us endure the most distasteful of tasks. Where there is love, there is no labor.
Our relationship with the Lord is not intended as a duty or an imposition. It is a relationship lived with the heart: it is our friendship with God, granted to us by Jesus, a friendship that changes our life and fills us with passion, with joy. Thus, the gift of piety stirs in us above all gratitude and praise. Gratitude and praise is, in fact, the reason and the most authentic meaning of our worship and our adoration. When the Holy Spirit allows us to perceive the presence of the Lord and all his love for us, it warms the heart and moves us quite naturally to prayer and celebration, with filial trust in God, with a capacity to pray to him with the love and simplicity of a humble heart.
The gift of piety is — not pietism! Why ? Because some think that to be pious is to close one’s eyes, to pose like a picture and pretend to be a saint. The gift of piety means to be truly capable of rejoicing with those who rejoice, of weeping with those who weep, of being close to those who are lonely or in anguish, of correcting those in error, of consoling the afflicted, of welcoming and helping those in need. The gift of piety is closely tied to gentleness. The gift of piety which the Holy Spirit gives us makes us gentle, makes us calm, patient, at peace with God, at the service of others with gentleness.