Meditations on the Psalms, Song of Ascents #1, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 119, 120, 121

In my trouble I cried to the Lord: and he heard me. O Lord, deliver my soul from wicked lips, and a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to thee, or what shall be added to thee, to a deceitful tongue? The sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals that lay waste. Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged! I have dwelt with the inhabitants of Cedar:

My soul hath been long a sojourner. With them that hated peace I was peaceable: when I spoke to them they fought against me without cause.

I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me. My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. May he not suffer thy foot to be moved: neither let him slumber that keepeth thee. Behold he shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy protection upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not burn thee by day: nor the moon by night. The Lord keepeth thee from all evil: may the Lord keep thy soul. May the Lord keep thy coming in and thy going out; from henceforth now and for ever.

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together. For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord. Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.

Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them that love thee. Let peace be in thy strength: and abundance in thy towers. For the sake of my brethren, and of my neighbours, I spoke peace of thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.

• • •

Conversion

First Point. God has rescued me from the world. Blessed be the tribulation which turned me from the world to God; blessed be God, who heard the prayer of one who, till prevented by his grace, could do nothing to please him. I have said fare well (and may it be for ever!) to the false standards and unreal aims of the world that lives without God, and is content to brave, without amendment, the terrible judgments which he most righteously threatens against sinners at once the keen pangs of remorse and the desolating pains of sense. I have lived so long in an atmosphere estranged from God, dallying with the temptations or sins that held me prisoner, that I must needs enter the gates of my heavenly country as half a stranger, full of worldly attachments and regrets. I thought that I was living at peace in myself, when really I had only made an ignoble compromise with these spiritual enemies, which treacherously assailed my eternal salvation while I heedlessly parleyed with them. Now there is only one peace for me the peace which is a perpetual war upon my own sins, God’s enemies.

Second Point. God has brought me confidence in place of mistrust. In making my act of faith, I have been enabled to lift up my eyes to the City of the Seven Hills, the visible centre of Christian unity. Yet my confidence reposes in nothing lower than God himself, whose throne is Heaven, and the earth his footstool. Hitherto my feet have wavered and slipped; may he, now that he has once planted them on the rock, keep them safe by his unceasing vigilance. Too often, perhaps, I shall forget God and slumber over his errands; he will not forget me, or be deaf when I turn to him. He will always be there to protect me, and all the more in those directions where he sees my nature to be weakest. Times of light and times of darkness will succeed one another in my soul, but, if only I am faithful, he will not allow me to presume on the one or be discouraged by the other. May he give me the grace of perseverance, that as he has granted me a happy entrance into the Church by my baptism, so he may give me a happy dismissal at the hour of my death.

Third Point. God has given me true peace in the fold of his Church. What greater happiness could have come to me, than to have been thus given the freedom of the heavenly City, the household of God? Planted on these rock-built foundations, I know at last what it is to stand firmly on my feet. Nor is it only the solid ground of the Apostolic faith that reassures me; everywhere the organization of the Church speaks to me of that unity which depends on a proper relation between the members and the whole-body. Not that laws and jurisdiction are absent, but these are no tyranny, because they are loyally accepted by the free consent of the Church’s children. As a patriot of my supernatural country, I will pray earnestly for the peace of the Church, and the abundant sanctification of her children on these two foundations rests (humanly speaking) her whole prosperity. And I will gladly do my little part to secure that peace and to enhance those spiritual blessings, that I may be a worthy inmate of God’s house and fellow-citizen of his Saints.

Acts – Gratitude, confidence, loyal submission.

Colloquy with God who watches ceaselessly over his chosen people.