Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #12, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 54

Hear, O God, my prayer, and despise not my supplication: Be attentive to me and hear me. I am grieved in my exercise; and am troubled, At the voice of the enemy, and at the tribulation of the sinner. For they have cast iniquities upon me: and in wrath they were troublesome to me. My heart is troubled within me: and the fear of death is fallen upon me.

Fear and trembling are come upon me: and darkness hath covered me. And I said: Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest? Lo, I have gone far off flying away; and I abode in the wilderness. I waited for him that hath saved me from pusillanimity of spirit, and a storm. Cast down, O Lord, and divide their tongues; for I have seen iniquity and contradiction in the city.

Day and night shall iniquity surround it upon its walls: and in the midst thereof are labour, And injustice. And usury and deceit have not departed from its streets. For if my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. And if he that hated me had spoken great things against me, I would perhaps have hidden myself from him. But thou a man of one mind, my guide, and my familiar, Who didst take sweetmeats together with me: in the house of God we walked with consent.

Let death come upon them, and let them go down alive into hell. For there is wickedness in their dwellings: in the midst of them. But I have cried to God: and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning, and at noon I will speak and declare: and he shall hear my voice. He shall redeem my soul in peace from them that draw near to me: for among many they were with me. God shall hear, and the Eternal shall humble them. For there is no change with them, and they have not feared God:

He hath stretched forth his hand to repay. They have defiled his covenant, They are divided by the wrath Of his countenance, and his heart hath drawn near. His words are smoother than oil, and the same are darts. Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall not suffer the just to waver for ever. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction. Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee, O Lord.

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The Cloister

First Point. The privilege of escaping from the world. God will not despise the lowliness of my prayer now that he has allowed me to take the lowest place among those specially dedicated to him. When I was in the world, my spiritual exercises seemed to bring me no peace, but rather to put me out of harmony with my surroundings; the voice of temptation sounded terribly close in my ear all the while, and the thoughtless lives of others gave me a low standard of progress; self-seeking and uncharitableness seemed to nourish around me, and weighed upon my spirits. For my weakness, my heart began to fail me; how easy it would be for one so frail and so fickle to lose eternal life! Doubts and scruples began to assail me; darkness came upon my spirit, and blotted out for me the sun of worldly happiness, till nothing seemed to have any attraction or savour for me. I longed, then, for a vocation to the religious life, that would set my soul free to take its flight in undisturbed prayer, and would give rest to my troubled conscience. By God’s mercy, I was enabled to carry out this flight, and, withdrawing into myself, to live solus cum solo, alone with the unapproachable God. It has been my part to wait patiently till God should see fit to strengthen my feeble courage and let me cheerfully breast the storm.

Second Point. Yet temptations are the heritage of my nature, and I must expect to find them in the cloister too. May God still be with me to confound the devices of my spiritual enemies. For, although I have secured myself from without, making fast, as it were, the drawbridges of my spiritual citadel, I know that there is still treachery and disaffection within the camp: night and day I have still to be on my guard against my own infidelities. The arduousness of spiritual labours still daunts me, self-love still bears its sway: and where I thought that I had made the way clear for God, unsuspected relics of self-seeking and impure motives yet re main to be cast out. Alas, it was comparatively easy for me to resist the temptations that came clearly from without, disguised under no false colours; the world boastfully claimed me as its prey, but its very boastfulness put me on my guard and warned me to hide myself in prayer. But now it is my own human spirit that is the source of my imperfections, the temperament that was born with me and has grown up with me from childhood; the bad habits that I have even encouraged in myself, not realising that they were such, that survived undetected my earlier examinations of conscience. O may God send me grace to mortify these, and bury them in my Saviour’s tomb; I see now how hideous they are in his sight.

Third Point. But we must not be alarmed; God will perfect his work in us. Yet surely, if I am patient, God will not suffer his own work to perish; if I remain faithful to my rule of prayer and the duties of my state, he will find fresh ways of escape. He will subdue in me these multitudinous roots of evil that seem so closely entwined around my very being; the Eternal God keeps an unhurrying pace, but he will aid me at last. They are defrauding him of his honour, defying his sovereignty he will be jealous for his own glory: they mar the performance of my bounden homage to him he will claim his own rights, and his Sacred Heart will come to demand my love; his words, full of gentleness and of healing, will yet pierce me like a sword while I have imperfections to overcome. Let me only learn to wait patiently, casting all my scruples and anxieties before him.; he will teach me to progress steadily and unwaveringly towards him, rooting out all in me that offends him before he calls me from my earthly labours to a heavenly reward.

Acts – Gratitude, resolve of watchfulness, patient confidence.

Colloquy with God as our hiding-place against the storms of temptation.