Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #4, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 8

O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens. Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger. For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded. What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?

Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: And hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields. The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!

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The Dignity of Man

First Point. God shews his omnipotence by the weakness of the earthly instruments he uses. Whether we consider the mere fact of existence, and argue from the greatness of the universe even as we know it to the greatness of its Creator; or whether from its infinite variety we admire the wonderful delicacy of his work in the petal or the snowflake; or whether from its harmony and order we infer the wisdom of the eternal Mind that disposed it, we are forced to our knees in admiration of God’s power. Not that this exhausts his greatness, for the effect must be less than, not equal to, the Cause; from the magnificence of creation we infer a Magnificence still greater beyond it. And that Magnificence is equally displayed in the history of God’s dealing with men; lest it should be thought that he depends in any way upon the strength or the wisdom of his human agents, he has chosen the weak things of the world, modest women, souls hidden away in the cloister, men of little education and inferior natural gifts, to shew forth his sanctity and to win souls for him Saint Theresa, Saint Bruno, the Cure d’Ars, etc.

Second Point. Man, even considered in himself, is insignificant compared with the universe around him. The vast realms of space, the heavenly bodies that comprise not merely other worlds but other systems, yet are all fashioned delicately as if by a craftsman’s fingers, seem to dwarf man and throw him into the shade. Can it be that a single species (among the many living species) of a single planet (among many planets) of a solar system (among many solar systems) is the object of special care, watchfulness, and jealousy on the part of God? Nay, that God himself, taking the form of a member of that species, lived on earth and toiled and suffered to redeem it; that his Holy Spirit loves to dwell specially in the hearts of the sons of men? So it is; for God, not content with the myriad spirits that surround him, praise him, and do his will, formed yet other spirits, mysteriously bound up with material bodies, to serve him on earth.

Third Point. Man is the priest of nature. Owing to the special faculties with which God has endowed him, Man, though fallen, has become the master of the brute creation, and tamed to his own purposes the brutes that excel him in strength; nay, he can tunnel under the earth, ride through the air, chain waterfalls, navigate the depths of the sea. But above all, Man, unlike the rest of creation, is intellectual and the object of his own thought. And because he is thus endowed with intellect and purposive will, it is the privilege and duty of man to offer consciously to God the praises which the whole chorus of creation mutely pro claims on every side. In all the earth God’s name is admirable; over all the earth, wherever the human race dwells, God would have Man for his priest. What dignity has God conferred on us, my soul, that we should take our share in this continual oblation!

Acts: Admiration of God’s power and wisdom; gratitude for our creation and for our creation as sentient beings.

Colloquy with God our Creator, who made the universe out of nothing.