Meditations on the Psalms, Song of Ascents #2, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 122, 123, 124

To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven. Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters, As the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress: so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us: for we are greatly filled with contempt. For our soul is greatly filled: we are a reproach to the rich, and contempt to the proud.

If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say: If it had not been that the Lord was with us, When men rose up against us, Perhaps they had swallowed us up alive. When their fury was enkindled against us, Perhaps the waters had swallowed us up. Our soul hath passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.

Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth. Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth In Jerusalem. Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever. For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity. Do good, O Lord, to those that are good, and to the upright of heart. But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.

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The Struggle with Temptations

First Point. We must wait patiently for God’s grace. I know something of my own weakness; I have seen the failure of so many attempts at unaided effort; now, in my hopeless imperfection, I look up to God for deliverance. I will wait patiently, continually watching, like a king’s attendant, for the least signal of God’s will, trusting rather to such quiet expectation in prayer than to any violent striving on my own part, to effect my sanctification: God will visit me in his own time. Yet I will pray earnestly that it may be soon: for the spiritual light I have now, little as it is, is enough to make me despise myself for my own imperfections, and compare myself unfavourably with the examples of the Saints. My immortified affections, no longer (thank God) seen as friends and companions, now appear to me as hideous tyrants, mocking my feeble efforts to extricate my self from their bondage: Lord, thou seest my helplessness; let the measure of thy assistance be in proportion to its needs.

Second Point. We must ascribe all deliverance only to his grace. A little done towards achievement; a little breathing-space gained in the struggle with my spiritual enemies. To what can I ascribe this, save to God’s grace? If I had been left to myself, my rebellion against the dominion of my own passions might have cost me dear: I might have lost heart altogether and been swept away, my last state worse than the first, like one swallowed up in the hosts of the enemy or carried off down a waterfall. Now the angry ford is safely bridged, and I am on firm land again: I no longer feel myself snared and limed like a captive bird by the clogging attachment of some immortified passion that I had almost given up hope of escaping. It is not that I have found my way out between the bars; the prison-cage itself has been shattered by a greater Power: the temptation is no longer felt as a temptation this, surely, is God’s doing. God, who made heaven and earth and conserves all things in being, made me to serve him and gives me from moment to moment grace to accomplish my mission.

Third Point. We must have confidence in this protection. The Christian is as “a city set on a hill”; he is open to criticism from every side, and nothing that he does can be without its spiritual significance. Yet he is also a city set among the hills, nestling safely in the embrace of an eternal Providence. We are so open to the influence of human respect, so weak in our efforts to rise above the low standards we see around us, that we may well be alarmed as to our chances of ever living for God; yet we must not (on pain of infidelity) doubt his power to elevate us to any height of sanctity, though we are in ourselves so closely akin to the greatest of sinners. What he requires of us is a true and honest intention of doing everything to his glory; for the rest, we must trust to him to make what he wills of us, not enquiring anxiously about our own spiritual state. And we must pray above all for perseverance, lest we should be led at any time to look back with affectionate regret to wards the sins we have escaped from, so running the risk of losing our eternal peace.

Acts – Dependence, gratitude, confidence.

Colloquy with God, who does all things in us according to his will.