Saturday, 24 August 2013
The Doctors Speak...
Saint Augustine, on Psalm 99.
The Psalmist says: 'Be joyful in the Lord all you lands!' Have all the lands heard this invitation. Already all the lands are making a joyful noise to the noise to the Lord. If one part is not yet praising Him, it soon will.
The Church going out from Jerusalem is spread out among all peoples. The good are mixed in with the wicked. Through the mouth of the wicked all the lands are murmuring against the Lord: through the mouth of the good all the lands are making a joyful noise to the Lord.
And what is this joyful noise? Another Psalm exclaims: 'Blessed are the people who know the festal shout!' (Ps. 89:16) It must then be something very important if the experience of it brings happiness. Let us run towards this happiness, let us take careful note how to achieve this joyful noise.
One who is making a joyful noise does not utter words. No words are needed to make his joy heard. It is the song of a soul overflowing with joy, expressing its feelings as it may, above the level of discourse.
We find ourselves in this state of jubilation when we are glorifying God and we feel incapable of speaking of Him - when for example we are considering the whole creation which makes itself available for us to know and to act in. The soul then asks: 'Who has made all this? And who has put me here? What are these truths that I am understanding? And who am I that understands? Who is it who has made it all? Who is He?'
If you want some idea of who He is, you must draw nearer to Him. To look from a distance is to risk being deceived. It is the spirit that perceives him and the heart that sees Him. What sort of heart? 'Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.' (Matt. 5:8)
You must draw nearer to Him by becoming like Him. You will feel His presence to the extent that love grows in you, because God is Love.
Then you will not be able to do anything but praise Him. And if you make a joyful noise to the Lord, you will understand the joyful noise that all the lands make to Him.
Comment: How blessed are we to live in the time after the proclamation of the Gospel! A young man may dream of leading a cavalry charge in Alexander the Great's army, discoursing with the philosophers in Ancient Athens, forming the first cities in Mesopotamia. But we possess a pearl of even greater worth that these men could possibly have dreamt of, the Catholic Faith, the belief in the Incarnation and Redemptive Sacrifice of our Lord! The news of His Resurrection has reached our insignificant country of Scotland, a poor land of former barbarians. We have come to believe and proclaim the wonders and deeds of the Lord, the Lord Who has decreed mercy for us who worshipped the works of our own hands. What hope would be have had before the spread of the Gospel through the operation of the Holy Ghost?