Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #18, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 62

O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day. For thee my soul hath thirsted; for thee my flesh, O how many ways! In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary have I come before thee, to see thy power and thy glory. For thy mercy is better than lives: thee my lips shall praise. Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.

Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness: and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. If I have remembered thee upon my bed, I will meditate on thee in the morning: Because thou hast been my helper. And I will rejoice under the covert of thy wings: My soul hath stuck close to thee: thy right hand hath received me. But they have sought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth:

They shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes. But the king shall rejoice in God, all they shall be praised that swear by him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

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Dryness in Prayer

First Point. Dryness in our prayers does not make them less acceptable to God. There must be times in prayer when we feel like night-watchers at the dawn – tired, jaded, cold and hungry, only sticking to their posts out of a sheer sense of duty. So far as the will is concerned, we thirst as much as ever for union with God, yet do not experience that divine thirst of loving desire which, in some strange way, brings with it its own satisfaction: our souls are restless and distracted, and the body itself, with the imaginative faculty which is so closely allied to the body, shares this restlessness and is ill at ease. The spiritual path becomes a desert, with no sense of God’s presence; trackless, with no directing impulses of his Holy Spirit; waterless, with no conscious devotion or apparent spiritual profit. But what matters is not the light in which our earthly journey appears to us, but the value it has in the sight of God’s heavenly court: are we content to draw all our strength from him, to ascribe all the glory to him? If so, we are winning from his mercy a heavenly reward more durable and valuable than the most devout fervours we can feel in this life: our affections are not always ours to command, but we can still pray acceptably.

Second Point. We may ask for relief from such disquiet. If it be God’s will, we are content to go on worshipping in these difficult circumstances, holding up our hands in prayer when we cannot consciously lift up our hearts, if need be, all our life long. But rather, lest we be tried too hard, let it be his pleasure to deliver us, to refresh us anew in his own time with the rich banquet of his consolations; to make the service we now pay him out of blind loyalty, natural and delightful to us. Then, in gratitude for his help, we will try to keep his presence and his glory more uninterruptedly in view, recurring lovingly to the thought of him not merely at fixed hours of prayer but whenever the regard of our minds is free to do so. Then it shall be our constant desire to be hidden away from the world in the intimacy of communion with him, to be knitted ever more closely to him with all the affection of our hearts, to derive from the consciousness of his protection all our courage in danger and all our consolation in time of trouble.

Third Point. But chiefly we must pray that our present afflictions may not tempt us to any infidelity. At times of spiritual dryness, the devil will not be slow to suggest disloyal thoughts of revolt from the Master who seems to reward our services so little. May these machinations against our souls safety be brought to nought by God’s grace; may they be buried by courageous disregard, slain by the powerful sword of the Spirit, or torn to pieces by the remorse of an enlightened conscience. We are resolved not to allow our souls, however distracted from God, to find satisfaction or consolation in any lower object: we are sworn to his service, the most honourable service in which any creature can be engaged; the temptation must be gagged as soon as it tries to make its appeal, lest by listening even for a moment to the treacherous voice we should be led to waver in our resolution.

Acts – Resignation to spiritual difficulties; renewed desire for closer union; resolution against the smallest infidelity.

Colloquy with God who makes the waters flow in the wilderness.