Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #14, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 16

Hear, O Lord, my justice: attend to my supplication. Give ear unto my prayer, which proceedeth not from deceitful lips. Let my judgment come forth from thy countenance: let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable. Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me. That my mouth may not speak the works of men: for the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways. Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved.

I have cried to thee, for thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words. shew forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee. From them that resist thy right hand keep me, as the apple of thy eye. Protect me under the shadow of thy wings. From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me. My enemies have surrounded my soul: They have shut up their fat: their mouth hath spoken proudly.

They have cast me forth and now they have surrounded me: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. They have taken me, as a lion prepared for the prey; and as a young lion dwelling in secret places. Arise, O Lord, disappoint him and supplant him; deliver my soul from the wicked one: thy sword From the enemies of thy hand. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life: their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. They are full of children: and they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance. But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice: I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.

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Resistances of Our Corrupt Nature

First Point. The soul reminds God of his gracious dealings hitherto. Let us be certain, in praying against imperfections, that we pray with justice, not with deceitful lips that is, that we do so not out of a desire for our own comfort, or for mere self -improvement, but from a real jealousy for God’s honour. Since he has begun a good work in us, we can appeal to his fidelity to bring it to its fulfillment. He has proved our heart, and visited it by night by the night of desolation, in which we seemed dead to sense and blind to spiritual light, save only for the fixed determination of our will. He has tried us by fire persecutions from without, or bodily ill-health, or internal temptations: thus does he test our faithfulness. And, through his grace thus purifying us, at least the habitual inclination to sin seemed to have been left behind. We had come to have a higher standard for ourselves than the world’s standard; mindful of his encouragement to take up the cross, we had resigned ourselves to the difficult task of self-conquest.

Second Point. Let us ask for present relief, if it be his will. And yet, it seems, we are very far as yet from steady progress in the path set before us: a little less grace, and our feet would fail under us altogether, entangled in the morass. To God then, who has wrought in us so far, we must turn afresh for help; his boundless mercy will not stop short, leaving his work half-done, if only we will trust in him. As the eyelid instinctively and immediately covers the eye when it is threatened, so we would have our souls, now consecrated to him, shrink from the merest approach of sin. As the mother bird shelters her young, so we would have our lives hidden away from the rude touch of the world. And yet, ubiquitous and imperious, the old echoes of the world come round us; what pain it cost us when we thought we were parting from them! And now we find them still with us; evil thoughts that assail us unawares, threatening to make havoc of our souls, and sullenly turn their regard down wards, away from the graces and inspirations of God.

Third Point. And we may also ask God, in his own time, to deliver us altogether from these hindrances. May it be God’s pleasure to disappoint and supplant in us the devil, who thus tries to usurp his kingdom. May he set free our souls from such tyranny; preserve, for his own use, the sword of the Spirit which he entrusted to us, tempered so lovingly, sharpened by so much discipline, and now in danger of being dulled and blunted. The souls he chooses for the interior life are so few; he will deliver them, surely, from the domination of nature and of the human spirit which oppresses the children of the world. There is so much misuse of God’s own gifts, so much selfishness and calculating ambition: surely he will accept one soul that aspires to conquer herself before she appears at the judgment-seat, and centres all her hopes of happiness upon the glory which shall be revealed in Heaven.

Acts – Resignation to God’s will; aspiration towards self-conquest: confidence in God and in our vocation.

Colloquy with God who has called us and will keep us for himself.