Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #18, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 15

Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put my trust in thee. I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, for thou hast no need of my goods. To the saints, who are in his land, he hath made wonderful all my desires in them. Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they made haste. I will not gather together their meetings for blood offerings: nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me.

The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places: for my inheritance is goodly to me. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night. I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved. Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt thou give thy holy one to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end.

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God’s Blessings in Time and Eternity

First Point. God “does not need either man’s work or his own gifts.” Thou art my God, because thou hast no need of my goods. To everything else that is called mine, my King, my country, my family, etc. I can contribute something which completes their happiness or well-being: only my God is mine in a sense which gives me no proprietorship whatever. All the blessings I have are his gift, and even when I use them to his praise I only add to his glory accidentally, not substantially, for he is in all things self-sufficing. Hence my spiritual ambitions must be formed upon the wonderful model he has given me in the Saints who now enjoy our heavenly country. “Their infirmities were multiplied; afterwards they made haste” or, as Saint Paul tells us, they “recovered strength from weakness.” Saint Peter learns what it is to fall; Saint Paul is afflicted with an infirmity of the flesh; the great mystics pass, for a time, through a period of spiritual dryness, in order to give them distrust of themselves; when God’s grace intervenes later, see how easily they acquire the virtues and rise to perfection!

Second Point. The devout soul, turning away from the world, is enriched with great spiritual blessings, but even these must not exalt us, or make us forget our continual dependence “Their meeting’s”: when he said “Thou art my God,” the sacred writer was thinking of the false gods worshipped by others, and to these he suddenly turns. I must not immerse myself in the society of worldly people, who in their practice worship Nature instead of God; I must not let my mind dwell too much on earthly cares: God himself is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup (i.e. destiny); He “restores” my inheritance when He compensates by His grace for the gifts I have lost through Adam’s transgression. (For clerics this verse will have a special meaning.) And what an inheritance! God for my Father, the Church for my home, the Sacrament for my food, the Saints for my companions, etc. But blessed is he to whom God gives prudence in the use of this happiness, whose conscience reminds him, from morning to night, of the dangers it entails, such as giving way to pride or falling short of grace. Such a man puts God always before him, as the end and aim of all his actions, and feels God “on his right hand” knowing that his grace is the support which saves even the best of us from falling.

Third Point. In any case, the fullness of spiritual blessings is to be enjoyed only in Heaven.

The blessings God bestows on me even now, both temporal and spiritual, should be enough to make me cry out in gratitude; but he does more, and gives me a hope beyond the grave. As he raised up the human Soul of Jesus from the place of departed spirits, and his Body from the tomb, so he promises to raise up our bodies at the Last Day, and to bring our souls out of Purgatory to the enjoyment of heaven. Thus his revelation lets us into the secret of eternal life; and, little though we can imagine our future blessedness, we know:

(i) that the spiritual sight of God will fill us with happiness in a measure we have never dreamed of here, the mere happiness of contemplation;

(ii) that “at his right hand,” i.e. among the elect souls (Matthew 25:33) there are other delights endless both in their measure and their duration.

Acts: Distrust of your own strength, dedication of all our blessings to God, aspiration to the joys of Heaven.

Colloquy of gratitude to God for his principal blessings in your own life.