Meditations on the Psalms, Song of Ascents #4, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 128, 129, 130

Often have they fought against me from my youth, let Israel now say. Often have they fought against me from my youth: but they could not prevail over me. The wicked have wrought upon my back: they have lengthened their iniquity. The Lord who is just will cut the necks of sinners: Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Sion.

Let them be as grass on the tops of houses: which withered before it be plucked up: Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand: nor he that gathereth sheaves his bosom. And they that have passed by have not said: The blessing of the Lord be upon you: we have blessed you in the name of the Lord.

Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it. For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word: My soul hath hoped in the Lord.

From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord. Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Lord, my heart is not exalted: nor are my eyes lofty. Neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful things above me. If I was not humbly minded, but exalted my soul: As a child that is weaned is towards his mother, so reward in my soul. Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever.

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First Point. Outward affections mortified. Often, from my youth upward, the temptations that rose from inordinate affection to sense, to the world, to human respect have battered at the gates of my soul; often they have effected a partial entry, but through God’s grace they have never occupied the citadel. Yet my long subjection to those tyrannous onslaughts left my soul a prey to worldly and sensual attachments. Now, as it seems, God has struck at the very nerve-centre of these my spiritual enemies, and deadened their power to affect me; may he grant of his mercy that this rout may be a final defeat. It is my earnest desire that the very thought, the very lingering memory of what once troubled me so deeply may now be as short-lived as the self-sown grass that withers in the sun, passing away at once from my imagination before I find any delight in it, far less give it any consent. May I pass by my temptations as a man passes by some hated enemy, with out a sign of recognition or a word of greeting.

Second Point. Self unveiled. Now, as I hope, I have descended in my prayer to the very roots of my being; and from that abyss of humiliation cry out to the God who now seems infinitely distant. In my own self, my own rebellious human spirit, I now find nothing but blackness and rottenness where before I was conscious of nothing amiss; if we could see sin with God’s eyes, which of us would dare to hope for salvation? And yet God gives us hope in our moments of deepest abjection; his law for us is still that we should wait patiently upon his grace, and so I will; as I trusted him in the first days of my interior progress, the days of wearisome vigilance, so I will trust him now, what ever night of dereliction and self-despair he may bring down upon my soul. His mercy and the merits of my Saviour’s precious Blood do not stop short at the conversion of abandoned sinners; there is grace to spare for perfecting devout souls, and removing the last traces of self-will, self-praise, self-pity and self-love.

Third Point. Self abandoned. Lie still, then, my soul, under the hand of God. If ever I have congratulated myself on spiritual progress, if ever I have compared myself favourably with my neighbours, I was wrong. If ever I desired the interior life from the hope of receiving some special illumination, or of being favoured by great super natural gifts, I was wrong. I am nothing, I came from nothing; I dare not so much as lift up my eyes to heaven. Only, as the child that is now weaned from the breast still clings for all comfort and all love to the mother who once fed him, so my soul, weaned away by God’s grace from inordinate affection to his creatures and to all that is less than him, still turns towards the Author of those gifts as her only centre and her only ground of confidence. Lord, let me continue always in this act of self-distrust and of confidence in thee, till through thy mercy I see thee face to face in Heaven, and lose myself and find myself in thee.

Acts – Humiliation and abandonment of self into the hands of God.

Colloquy with God who is all things to our nothingness.