Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #15, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 4

When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me. Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying? Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him. Be angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things? The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart. By the fruit of their corn, their wine and oil, they are multiplied. In peace in the self-same I will sleep, and I will rest: For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

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Yielding to Depression is Faithlessness to God

First Point. We must not hasten to seek worldly consolations in trouble. How many of those who say they find no consolation in religion would have to admit, if they examined their hearts, that in time of trouble they habitually forget to call upon God. Yet how else, when troubles beset us round, should we expect to find a way made clear for our feet, a breathing-space given us? It is because, and in so far as, we are sons of the world that we allow our hearts to grow listless and dull, abandoning even our usual feeble efforts at prayer whenever we find that the weight of our depression indisposes us. Some plunge into unnecessary pleasures and relaxations, as if these ephemeral toys could rid us of the evil spirit; some complain of their woes and exaggerate them, in the attempt to capture sympathy from their friends sympathy easily expressed, but little felt. Yet when we read in the stories of the Saints how God mysteriously comforted them in spiritual desolations unimaginable to our earth-bound minds, should we not be well advised to seek, in our own measure, comfort from the same Source?

Second Point. Deliberate pessimism is a sin against hope. “Be ye angry, and sin not” a difficult expression which Saint Paul (Ephesians 4:26) seems to explain by adding “Let not the sun go down upon your anger.” Angry feelings, some times of justifiable indignation, are practically unavoidable; sin only comes in when we nurse our grievances, exaggerate them by continually turning them over in our minds, like a man deliberately keeping his wounds open. These murmurings, even if not inflicted on others but merely allowed to rankle in our hearts, are sins which we should confess to God and clear them off our conscience before we go to sleep at night. In so far as our tribulations are not directly the result of wrong-doing on our part, we can make an offering of them and of our innocence to God: thus they become a source of merit instead of sin. Confidence in God is not a mere support to fall back on if we will; it is a Christian duty. Yet how many allow themselves to be discouraged even by small afflictions, and (at least for a time) take an altogether jaundiced view of life, thinking the whole world out of joint merely because they have some petty grievance!

Third Point. As Christians, let us take refuge in Christian consolations. As Christians, we have been marked in Baptism with the sign of our divine deliverance; God means us to find happiness only by having our soul’s regard centred on him, not on the world. The food by which Christ ians are fortified against the accidents of mortality is not worldly dissipation, but the secret operation of God’s grace in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood; the salve which is to make us invulnerable against the darts of the enemy is not human comfort, but the grace conferred on us by the Holy Spirit when we were anointed at Confirmation. Let us then take our rest quietly, in spite of distractions; in peace, the peace of God which passes all understanding; “in the self-same” (in id ipsum), that is, like a city invincible from without because it enjoys tranquillity within. How much scandal it must give that Christians, bidden to look forward to the eternal happiness of heaven, should be disconcerted by every breath of temporal affliction!

Acts: Confidence in God; oblation to him of our earthly disquietudes.

Colloquy with the Sacred Heart, “source of all consolation.”