Piety comes from the Latin pius meaning dutiful, not excessive devotion, but a reverence, respectful worship and discipleship.
Catholics are occasionally called superstitious for genuflecting in the presence of the Eucharist, kissing a Rosary, or bowing their heads at the name of Jesus or Mary. If these gestures are mere rote, they may, indeed, be empty and superstitious. If, however, they represent (as they ought to) the love and reverence we have for God, then these gestures take on a great significance of piety.
Piety inspires us to understand the Church as ‘family’, the family of God. Piety is the gift of the Holy Spirit that moves our hearts to love God with the love that children have for their father, to inspire us to mourn our brothers and sister who are lost in sin and/or estranged from the love of the Family. Piety inspires us to meekness – to let go of anger and revenge for the sake of the unity of the family.
The Gift of Piety leads us to a profound awareness of what it means to be a child of God, the child not of a stern judge but the child of a loving Father.
‘Piety includes the ability of rejoicing with those who are cheerful and of crying with those who cry, of reaching out to those who are alone or anxious, to correct those who err, to console the afflicted, to care for and help those who happen to be in need.’ Pope Francis
The Gift of Piety takes away hardness of heart and extinguishes feelings of anger, jealousy and bitterness and replaces them with the Fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23).
It reminds me of tough love, I will always love you. The prodigal son’s father could have rejected his son, but he did not have a hardened heart. He understood both sides of the story, He wanted his family whole again. Isn’t that what all families want?
Piety is, one spiritual writer terms it, "religion with a heart."