Meditations on the Psalms, On The Interior Life #3, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 29

I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I have cried to thee, and thou hast healed me. Thou hast brought forth, O Lord, my soul from hell: thou hast saved me from them that go down into the pit. Sing to the Lord, O ye his saints: and give praise to the memory of his holiness.

For wrath is in his indignation; and life in his good will. In the evening weeping shall have place, and in the morning gladness. And in my abundance I said: I shall never be moved. O Lord, in thy favour, thou gavest strength to my beauty. Thou turnedst away thy face from me, and I became troubled. To thee, O Lord, will I cry: and I will make supplication to my God. What profit is there in my blood, whilst I go down to corruption? Shall dust confess to thee, or declare thy truth?

The Lord hath heard, and hath had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into joy: thou hast cut my sackcloth, and hast compassed me with gladness: To the end that my glory may sing to thee, and I may not regret: O Lord my God, I will give praise to thee for ever.

• • •

Early Discouragements

First Point. The soul looks back with inexpressible gratitude to her conversion, or preservation from sin. As the conservation of our existence is due to a continual act of God’s power, so our preservation from deadly sin is a continual act of his mercy: our spiritual enemies are all about us, like dogs waiting for their prey to be thrown to them. Most of us think little of the gift of health (which nevertheless depends on the perfect functioning of so many minute organs) unless we have had experience of disease and recovery; just so most of us, those especially who have never experienced the depths of sin and the relief of conversion, have grown accustomed to the ordinary grace of perseverance in the faith, and forget to give thanks as we ought. It is well for us, sometimes, to cast a terrified look over the edge of that abyss into which it is so easy to fall. Let us then give praise and thanks to God, the source of all holiness, whose indignation will be visited on those who provoke it with terrible retribution, of whose free gift it comes that our souls are alive to this day.

Second Point. Reflection on mercies in the past must not lead us to presume on future favours. But we are not to suppose that, when we aspire higher towards a more perfect union with God, life will be all sunshine and peace. Day and night, we shall find, will alternate; the darkness of desolation will be the necessary prelude to the fuller dawn of his presence. In spite of the abundant favours he showers upon us, especially when he is leading us on towards the interior life, we may not for one moment let our confidence rest upon the consciousness of them, even though it be accompanied by the humble recognition that we owe all to his gifts. We must be prepared at every moment for his hiding away his face, letting us fall into distractions, drynesses, perhaps even doubts and scruples. These will unavoidably lessen the direct sense of his presence which now enfolds us, but we are not to allow them to strike panic into the superior will, which must contrive to aspire faithfully towards him despite all discouragement.

Third Point. Though the soul may feel as if she experienced the pangs of spiritual death, she must still hope for release. Although such discouragements are sent to us by God for our perfecting, it is right to pray, so long as we do not pray impatiently, that the chalice may be removed from us (as our Saviour himself did) . The spiritual faculties will be so clouded and benumbed that we shall feel as if our lives were useless to God, as if the prayers we continue to offer with so little relish and conviction must be unavailing and disregarded altogether. It is not so; God is only waiting for his own good time to answer them and to give us the help of his countenance once more. The desolations that lie behind us will then add to our consolation; the garment of our humiliation will be changed into hitherto inexperienced delight. We shall give thanks then, without any sense of recrimination or remonstrance with God, for the trials he has suffered us to pass through, and our joy will be the joy that no man takes from us.

Acts – Gratitude, resignation to all that God may allow to befall our spiritual lives, hope and trust in him.

Colloquy with God who made both light and darkness, and sees that they are good.