Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #15, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 142

Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in thy truth: hear me in thy justice. And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight no man living shall be justified. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul: he hath brought down my life to the earth. He hath made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: And my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled. I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all thy works: I meditated upon the works of thy hands.

I stretched forth my hands to thee: my soul is as earth without water unto thee. Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit hath fainted away. Turn not away thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy mercy in the morning; for in thee have I hoped. Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to thee. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to thee have I fled: Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Thy good spirit shall lead me into the right land:

For thy name’s sake, O Lord, thou wilt quicken me in thy justice. Thou wilt bring my soul out of trouble: And in thy mercy thou wilt destroy my enemies. And thou wilt cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

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Imperfections As A Humiliation

First Point. Disheartening effect of the continued resistance of nature against our spiritual effort. God is faithful: that is, when he makes a promise to us, however little we deserve it, he owes it to his own Nature that he should fulfill his undertaking. Thus, since he has promised that they who ask should receive, they who seek should find, etc., we can appeal, as it were, to his justice to make fruitful our efforts after sanctification. This is not to say that the greatest of his Saints could really claim, as a matter of retributive justice, rewards for his striving: no man, however mortified, could dare to ask God to give him his deserts. But when he gives us grace to feel our continual shortcomings as an affliction, it does mean that we may, and should, ask to be delivered from this merited affliction, which is always bringing us down into the dust, always clouding our spiritual outlook, nay, making us feel as if the very principle of perseverance were dead within us. We must avoid impatience with ourselves, but the pain and perplexity of these humiliations is a means for us to rise higher.

Second Point. Yet this disheartening should quicken our sense of need for grace. Let the soul look back to the time before she gave herself to God, when she was still governed by worldliness and self-will; was it then any effort of her own and not rather the free grace of God, that led her forward? Now, as then, can we do more than stretch out our hands to receive a gift? We must be like the parched ground, which, because of the drought which crumbles it, is all the more eager to drink up the moisture when it comes. Above all, let us ask for perseverance, that the weariness of our spirits may not lead to despair, that we may not come short of grace and lose our vocation. However long the night is, the morning will dawn; however long God allows our spiritual horizon to be over clouded with darkness, he will give the light if we wait patiently; light and darkness, bless the Lord.

Third Point. We must also learn to let God work in his way, not in ours. I must not be led, by impatience with myself, into attempting short cuts to holiness, I must let God reveal to me the way he has chosen for me. He knows the dispositions of the enemy’s forces: I must put myself entirely under his generalship, asking him to give me the spirit of discipline, which knows how to obey without questioning. Thus, in his own time, the merciful guidance of the Holy Spirit will bring me into the promised territory. The spiritual powers that now seem numbed will be alive again, for his own Name’s sake for the glory will belong to him, not to me. The hindrances of which I now complain will be done away, or at least weakened so that they can no longer hurt my progress. I am God’s servant: is it likely that while I claim only that title and recognize only that motive, he will allow his enemies to triumph over me?

Acts – Humble recognition of your own weakness; faith in God’s guidance; hope for higher spiritual progress.

Colloquy with God as my guide, whose directions I must follow implicitly.