Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #1, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

cover of the ebook 'Meditations on the Psalms, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox'

Psalm 83

How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee for ever and ever.

Blessed is the man whose help is from thee: in his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps, In the vale of tears, in the place which he hath set. For the lawgiver shall give a blessing, they shall go from virtue to virtue: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Behold, O God our protector: and look on the face of thy Christ.

For better is one day in thy courts above thousands. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners. For God loveth mercy and truth: the Lord will give grace and glory. He will not deprive of good things them that walk in innocence: O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

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The Choice of the Interior Life

First Point. The interior life our home. As the Jewish Tabernacle was the temporary and in complete foreshadowing of the Temple, so, in order to give us a foretaste of heaven, God has pitched his tent among us in our pilgrimage: the pursuit of the interior life does give a foretaste of the joys of heaven. Hence the spell which it casts over the souls of those God calls to it; they cannot rest satisfied without it, cannot breathe freely in the stale air of the world. The interior consolation, as some of the Saints have noticed, even gives the sense of bodily well-being. The birds, to which God has given the glorious liberty of the air, yet return, year by year, to their chosen nests; so the human soul, for all the free-will God has endowed it with, finds sooner or later that its need lies not in fresh adventures, but in a home: this home the interior soul finds in its intimate converse with God, in its self-oblation to him. Only in heaven is uninterrupted contemplation possible, but even on earth God gives some favoured souls the grace of long intercourse with him and almost continual recollectedness before him.

Second Point. But the interior life is also a journey. Yet, when God gives us the initial graces and favours that attract us to the interior life, he is not calling us to a life of ease, but to a painful progress. Perseverance does not mean merely going on, it means going upward, and he who aspires to the interior life must make up his mind to the prospect of a gradual ascent, step by step we cannot all at once breathe the mountain air, we must be come accustomed to it by gradual stages of spiritual advance. Man, by his sin, has made the world a vale of tears, a place in which all spiritual development is contrary to nature, and so attainable only by mortification and painful struggle. But he who determines the hard conditions of our course himself sends us grace to persevere in spite of them: hopeless as the obstacles may seem at first, as they tower above us, we shall find that one step cut in the rock one solid virtue acquired will give us a foot hold to begin the cutting of the next, and so on. However much or however little we approach in this world to perfect contemplation, this painful journey is at least a sure road to the open vision in Heaven.

Third Point. Holiness, even in a low degree, is worth the struggle. Let us then ask humbly to be allowed to serve God in this way; let us ask him to forget our weakness and worldliness, and to look upon our poor human nature as it is represented in Christ our Head. Even if we have, in his Providence, little more time left to us on earth, the feeble struggles of the beginner in holiness will avail us more than a long life spent in casual observance of our religion. Even if he does not mean to raise us to any great level of sanctity, the mere privilege of special attendance in his court, however menial be the office, is of more value than any position of worldly prominence in the midst of unchallenged imperfections. God is merciful, and does not despise the sinner; faithful, and will not forget his promise; he offers us sufficient grace for our needs, and glory hereafter, and he has spiritual blessings in store for us here if we persevere with a good intention, trusting only in his strength for our sanctification.

Acts – Desire for union with God, resolve of perseverance, humility in our spiritual aims.

Colloquy with God as our only source of rest and our only goal.