Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #1, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 18

The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands. Day to day uttereth speech, and night to night sheweth knowledge. There are no speeches nor languages, where their voices are not heard. Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.

He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he, as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber, Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way: His going out is from the end of heaven, And his circuit even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat. The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones. The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts: the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.

More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. For thy servant keepeth them, and in keeping them there is a great reward. Who can understand sins? from my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord: And from those of others spare thy servant. If they shall have no dominion over me, then shall I be without spot: and I shall be cleansed from the greatest sin. And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in thy sight. O Lord, my helper, and my redeemer.

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God’s Threefold Revelation of Himself to Man

First Point. God revealed by his creation. The whole of creation speaks to us of the Cause that produced it; but the heavens especially, where we can read the vastness of God’s operation (and therefore of his being) as well as the perfect order, which can only be attributed to supreme Wisdom. He reveals himself in the light, that is, in truths that are manifest even to our earthly intelligence; and equally in the darkness, that is, by the mysteries which baffle us and so make us acknowledge an Intelligence superior to our own. These lights and shadows of creation are God’s first missionaries; no one can plead, even in heathen countries, that the truth of God’s existence was not thus proposed to him. And as the temporal symbol of his own power, which at once sustains and vivifies and enlightens the whole universe, he has given us the sun, centre of the whole system in which our world moves, penetrating everywhere with its heat and light, as God himself is everywhere present in substance and in operation.

Second Point. God revealed in the Christian dispensation. The details of the Christian dispensation, though many of them are such that we must obey them in blind faith, not by knowledge, yet claim our homage by their perfect order and beauty. His moral law, so unswerving, appealing so readily to all our highest instincts; the manner of his revelation, adapted to the simple and ignorant as well as to the learned; the generosity of the rewards he offers; the special counsels, through the observance of which he leads devout souls to great spiritual enlightenment; the terrible punishments he threatens to the disobedient; the moral values he teaches us (the importance of motives, the refusal to respect persons, etc.), all plainly self-justified, and yet to us so difficult and so desirable of attainment in all these he makes himself known to us, and more fully in proportion as we observe them more carefully, since “he that doeth the works shall know the doctrine.”

Third Point. God revealed in the human conscience. But there is a third revelation, this time clearly progressive according to our souls state his revelation in the individual conscience. How hard it is for our fallen nature to appreciate its own degradation, and estimate its own sins aright! We must ask to be delivered from the pride and sloth which make us unconscious of sin, the acquiescence in worldly standards which deadens us to its significance. Only when our spiritual vision is thus cleared shall we be delivered from that sin which is the most dangerous, because the underlying cause, of all our sins the pride of the human spirit. How they avail with God, the prayers (whether vocal or mental) of those whose consciences are truly illuminated! Let us pray that as he has redeemed us from the dominion of sin, so he will ever help us forward towards such inward perfection.

Acts – Faith in God and in his revelation; gratitude for his having revealed himself; desire for an enlightened conscience.

Colloquy with God as the Sun of our lives.