Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #9, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 84

Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people: thou hast covered all their sins. Thou hast mitigated all thy anger: thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation. Convert us, O God our saviour: and turn off thy anger from us.

Wilt thou be angry with us for ever: or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation? Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life: and thy people shall rejoice in thee. Shew us, O Lord, thy mercy; and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people: And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart. Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed. Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice hath looked down from heaven. For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit. Justice shall walk before him: and shall set his steps in the way.

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Considerations on Absolution

First Point. Thanksgiving for relief. I am released from sin, as the earth is released from the chill of winter, or prisoners from the bitterness of captivity. My account is discharged; my past, by the favour of God, lies buried and counts against me no more in eternity. All this is but the expression of the fact that God, eternally just, has ceased to look down on my soul in indignation; I have made my peace with him, and that is all that matters in life or death. Oh may this return to him be a real return, so that I shall never again deserve his anger! But for this gift of absolution, I had merited (and may yet merit by renewed sin) not a passing frown, but a reprobation which is as eternal and changeless as the eternity and changelessness of God. See, my soul, how near we have been to the brink of eternal ruin; learn at once thy peril and his infinite goodness.

Second Point. Petition for renewed grace. But the remission of God’s anger is not all that he does for us in absolution. Well for us that it is not; for, by our sins, we have stopped the channels of his grace; and it would avail us little to be discharged of guilt, if those channels were to remain shut from us still. Recovery is not merely the cessation of sickness, but the building anew of wasted tissues, the return of the body’s powers to the enjoyment of their normal functions. This, too, absolution gives us; and it is in the consciousness of these renewed powers that we find proof of our restoration. Lord, let me learn from this experience to listen at all times to the voice of conscience by which thou speakest to me; let me never forget that peace with thee depends upon living and active membership of thy chosen people, the Church. Let my conversion be no temporary turning aside from sinful ways, but a true conversion of the heart, a revolution in my life, an epoch in my history; that my justification may be, as thou desirest it to be, the beginning of my sanctification.

Third Point. Confidence in God’s mercies. A few whispered words, a few minutes of penance, and the soul doomed to hell has passed into a soul bound for heaven! How intimate, then, how condescending, how easily available is the operation of redeeming grace! The Cross reaches from earth to heaven; in it the faithfulness of God to his own Nature is mysteriously reconciled with mercy to the sinner, eternal Justice with the reconciliation of our estranged souls to their Creator: God himself is “lifted up from the earth,” that God himself may look down from heaven to pardon. Will not the loving-kindness that inspired such a remedy for our sins carry us still further, till the showers of grace produce at last from our barren souls the fruits of good living we have so often promised, so often failed to bring forth? Will not his justice at last be reproduced in our souls, clearing aside the thick growth of corrupt nature, levelling pride, lifting up our weakness, making ready in the wilderness of our souls a highway for the King to walk on?

Acts: Fear of sin, resolution of amendment, confidence in God’s purpose for our sanctification.

Colloquy with the Good Physician who both heals and restores us.