Contemplation of Divine Things

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    Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) on What is Necessary to Contemplate Divine Things taken from his Commentary on Psalm 45, verse 10 (verses 11 & 12 in the Douay-Rheims; translation the same).

    The verse:
    “Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of armies is with us: the God of Jacob is our protector.”

    The Commentary:
    Having just invited all to “come, and behold the works of the Lord,” he now tells them how they are to come, if they wish really to understand them; and to impress the necessity of it, as well as to induce them to come, he speaks in the person of the Lord himself, saying “Be still, and see that I am God.” For to contemplate things divine, the mind must needs be disengaged from all worldly care, and avarice is at the bottom of all care; because it is from the lust of riches, dainties, honors, pleasure, and the like, that all troublesome thoughts are engendered, and never leave any one troubled with them at ease. Hence Jeremias says of the contemplative, Lam. 3, “He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace; because he hath taken it upon himself,” and the Lord commands us, Matt. 6, “But thou, when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy father in secret.” And he explains by his practice what he meant by “shutting the door,” for, generally speaking, when he wanted to pray, he went up on a mountain, and went alone, to shut himself out from all the cares, noise and concerns of this world. But, as we said, the principal stillness we require is, abstraction from the desire of anything earthly; for when any one will not wrap himself up in, or covet what he sees, however occupied he may be in helping his neighbor, he will easily collect himself when he chooses, and when necessary, and he will “be still and see,” that the Lord only “is God.” He is the beginning and the end; he is the entire hope of the faithful on earth, and their true happiness in heaven. David was constantly occupied in governing his kingdom; St. Gregory as well as many other holy popes, in discharging the duties of the pontificate, and yet they could enter into the most sublime contemplation, because they kept the wings of their souls unfettered and unsullied by the mire of concupiscence. The great apostle himself, burdened as he was by the “solicitude of all the Churches,” obliged to seek a living by the “labor of his hands,” still being untrammeled, free from worldly desires, he, too, could “be still,” “and see,” and was carried up to the third heaven, and “heard the secret words which it is not granted to man to utter.” On the other hand, there are many idle persons, as far as the business of this world is concerned, but from their carnal desires and pursuits know not how to “be still.” “Be still,” look out for holy retirement, bring to it a pure and tranquil mind, ”and see,“ on deep reflection, “that I am God,” that I alone am God; that no created thing, however great or sublime, is God: I alone am he; that is, I alone am he, “from whom, through whom, and in whom are all things,” Rom. 11. I alone, am he, without whom you can do nothing, and are nothing; but in whom, and through whom, you can do everything. “I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth;” that is to say, when I shall have done the wonderful things just enumerated, I will appear exalted before all nations, before the whole world, so “that every knee shall bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and in hell,” In the end of the world, nobody will be found hardy enough to despise God, for all, with or against their will, will acknowledge his supreme dominion, and will be subject to him.
    He concludes the Psalm by a repetition of verse 7, to show that the divine exhortation had the effect of stirring up and renewing the pious affections of the faithful.

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