Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #17, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 76

I cried to the Lord with my voice; to God with my voice, and he gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought God, with my hands lifted up to him in the night, and I was not deceived. My soul refused to be comforted: I remembered God, and was delighted, and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away. My eyes prevented the watches: I was troubled, and I spoke not.

I thought upon the days of old: and I had in my mind the eternal years. And I meditated in the night with my own heart: and I was exercised and I swept my spirit. Will God then cast off for ever? or will he never be more favourable again? Or will he cut off his mercy for ever, from generation to generation? Or will God forget to shew mercy? or will he in his anger shut up his mercies?

And I said, Now have I begun: this is the change of the right hand of the most High. I remembered the works of the Lord: for I will be mindful of thy wonders from the beginning. And I will meditate on all thy works: and will be employed in thy inventions. Thy way, O God, is in the holy place: who is the great God like our God? Thou art the God that dost wonders. Thou hast made thy power known among the nations:

With thy arm thou hast redeemed thy people the children of Jacob and of Joseph. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee: and they were afraid, and the depths were troubled. Great was the noise of the waters: the clouds sent out a sound. For thy arrows pass: The voice of thy thunder in a wheel. Thy lightnings enlightened the world: the earth shook and trembled. Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in many waters: and thy footsteps shall not be known.

Thou hast conducted thy people like sheep, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

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The Place of Trials and Persecutions

First Point. In time of trial, the devout soul must throw herself all the more upon God. We must not for a moment think of God, even when he seems to afford us least relief, as not hearing or not attending to our prayers. Our trials must throw us back especially on his strength; although in the darkness that surrounds our souls it seems as if we could not pray, but merely go through the motions of prayer, yet such an offering of the will cannot go unrewarded. We must refuse all opportunities of drowning our heaviness in worldly excitements or dissipations. We must think of God only, although the delight we take in the first mention of his name gives place afterwards to anxious questionings and scruples, to a sense of impotence that tempts us to despair. We must not curtail, but rather forestall and prolong, if need be, the accustomed hour of prayer; we must avoid seeking sympathy from others for the afflictions that beset us. We must learn to rise above our transitory troubles by considering how God from all eternity planned our creation, and with it all the circumstances of our life. We must examine our consciences carefully, to make sure that our afflictions are not the penalty for some infidelity on our part.

Second Point. We must see, in this chastening, part of God’s loving plan for us. Is it likely that God, who has so beneficently created and preserved us, is neglecting us now, or will neglect us unless we first, by impenitence, turn away from him? Are we to suppose that he would cut off from us, worthless as we are, the boundless supply of his mercy? Does he forget our frailness, his faithfulness, and grow weary of our many short-comings? Rather, this visitation is the beginning of our interior life, the first step in our spiritual education; the hand that chastened is the same as the hand that blessed us. In all the history of God’s dealings with his Saints, do we not read how he used such discipline for their good? We cannot hope to understand all his dealings, but if we will meditate on them with resignation and suffer ourselves to be exercised by them, they will yield the fruit of justice.

Third Point. God’s terrors, which frighten his enemies, leave his faithful servants unharmed. God’s ways are higher than ours, yet we can mark their beneficent operation. When he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand, with what convulsions of nature this deliverance was accompanied! The sea forgetting its natural laws, and shrinking away, as it were, from his presence; the terrible storm of hail, with the thunder and the lightning that accompanied them, in a land where rain was almost unknown, the shaking of Mount Sinai when Moses went up to meet him there must not all these have seemed, to the onlooker, merely the revelation of a God terrible in his anger and irresistible in his strength? When the thunders had ceased, and the sea had rolled back, one would have supposed all this fury and commotion a meaningless display of power. And yet, through all this, we know that he was in reality guiding and protecting his people Israel, with the prudence and gentleness of a shepherd leading his flock. And shall our hearts fail at the mere whisper of his terrors?

Acts – Abandonment of ourselves to God’s care; patience and confidence during our light afflictions.

Colloquy with God who, in his visitations, leads us like sheep.