Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #5, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper. Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth. Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.

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A Caution Against Worldliness

First Point. The soul must, in its measure, retire into seclusion from the world. Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel, that is, according to the lights and standards, of the imperfect world around him; who has not voluntarily gone out of his way into sinful courses. But we must not be content with this, we must walk in the right way, not standing about irresolutely and parleying with sin, by encouraging occasions, evil imaginations, etc. Nor must we even sit down, that is, sink into apathy about spiritual things and fall back into acquiescence with the promptings of our own nature; for ours is a fallen nature, and we have to flee from its indifference towards heaven as if from a spot contaminated by disease. The will must be trained by mortification to run counter to our natural inclinations and conform itself to the higher law of grace; the mind must be schooled by meditation on the mysteries of the faith, alike in times of happiness and in times of distress, lest we should forget our high calling.

Second Point. Only the mortified life is fruitful. In nature itself, it is not the least tended trees that are the healthiest, the pollarded willow thrives from the very harshness of its treatment. And the mortified life is to be compared to such a tree, rooted in one spot and yet continually growing: it does not depend on accidents of rain and drought, of happiness, that is, or of misfortune, because it is planted by the waters of God’s grace, flowing like a river, always the same yet always mysteriously fresh. Fed by such nourishment, it will bring forth the fruit of holiness in due season, when God sees fit and in the measure he ordains. This fruit of holiness is the only produce of it which matters in the light of eternity: but even the leaves, that is the outward and unessential part of our lives, our temporal happiness, will be blessed by God’s special favour; and the works we undertake in his honour will be prospered through his Providence, often beyond our knowing.

Third Point. The immortified life is sterile and transient. The mortified life is the seed which falls into the ground and, buried as it is, grows into a flourishing plant. The life of the worldly, for all its appearance of freedom, is like the chaff or dust which the wind scatters about, unstable in principle and barren of fruit. It is the stubble which, as Saint Paul tells us, will be burned in the fire of judgment. Already, Saint John warns us, God’s fan is in his hand, and he will one day burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Happy are we if we walk in the way of the just, over which, how ever perilous it may seem, the Providence of God keeps a fatherly watch for our protection; if we turn our backs resolutely on the way of sinners, which leads over uncharted ground to the wilder ness, the precipice, or the morass.

Acts: Determination to avoid the occasions of sin; resolve to persevere in the exercises of religion.

Colloquy with God who will judge us by our fruits.