Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #12, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 22

The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me. Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!

And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.

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The Mercy of the Sacraments in Life and Death

First Point. The Sacraments are means of justifying us. We are the sheep of God’s pasture; his flock; is it likely, then, that the Good Shepherd should allow us to lack anything that is necessary for attaining the end of our existence? Silly and defenceless like sheep, our souls need continually to be shepherded along, often in ways they cannot understand. But there is one clear way for all, in which no one can mistake the beneficence of his Providence the way of the Sacraments: no soul can live without pasture. First, then, he brings us to the waters of Baptism: in these refreshing waters he washes away, at the very opening of our lives, the sin of Adam’s descent, and (as a shepherd marks his sheep that he may know them) signs us with his mark, the Cross, printed in his own Precious Blood. But, so frail are we, the bearing of his mark is not enough to keep us safely in his flock, we wander away into sin, and he pursues us and brings us back to himself by con version, restoring us to a state of grace by the Sacrament of Penance. He leads us thus continually into the path of justification, and why? For his name’s sake; he chose us, called us, washed us, renews us, that we may live to his glory.

Second Point. God’s Sacraments are the means of sanctifying us. The world through which he guides our steps is no place for careless happiness. It is a valley where the shadow of death hangs over us all that is, not merely death itself, but all the ills and tribulations of mortality which death casts before it like a shadow. Yet we are not to be afraid of such afflictions, as if, when the sun is not shining on our lives, his Providence ceased to follow and direct us. The rod that corrects us is also the staff that supports us; the Sacrament of Penance avails not only to wash away sin, but also to win us grace; and all our troubles, if we will but accept them as a penance, are effectual means to our sanctification. And lest they should overcome our feeble strength, God is continually renewing us interiorly by our daily food the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist; as the germs of disease have more difficulty in attacking a body that is well fed and nourished, so the temptations our trials bring with them are thrown off more easily when we are daily fortified by Communion.

Third Point. God’s Sacraments the foretaste of our glory. And when at last the shadow darkens, and death itself is close to us, the mercy of the Sacraments does not cease. When our mortal strength is at its weakest, the Sacrament of Unction at once pours balm on our spiritual wounds, and anoints us, as it were, to the Kingly heritage of heaven. And when Christ’s Body and Blood are given to us in the Holy Viaticum, we know that we can go “in the strength of that food” until the time when, by his grace, we shall sit down and eat and drink with him in the Kingdom of God. Thus all the days of our life, because we have so little strength in ourselves, we are maintained by his supernatural succour, till in His own House Sacraments are done away, and we are safely folded for all eternity.

Acts: Gratitude; desire for Sacramental grace; preparation for our death-bed.

Colloquy with Christ the Good Shepherd.