What a terrific guest post we have today over on the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage site! Dr. Kevin Vost is the author of many books, as well as a guest on Catholic Answers and EWTN’s “Women of Grace” and “The Journey Home” programs. In today’s post on behalf of FLPH, Kevin discusses the answer to a perennial problem, something that all of us face at one time or another, which is how to pray when we’re distracted by other things.
I’m one of those people who mercifully tends to stay asleep once I actually fall asleep, but it’s the getting there that’s often the problem, because my brain won’t pipe down when I want it to; a similar thing tends to happen with my prayer life. I often have so many ideas and concerns going at any one time, that when I try to get quiet and focus it’s often extremely difficult. Even a Holy Hour during Adoration and Benediction can sometimes run the risk of being little more than me trying to make some sort of symmetrical mental list of all the spiritual things that “need” doing, such as people I’ve promised to pray for, debating what I should be asking for, what I should be hearing from God, and so on.
I’m easily distracted, not because I can’t focus but because there’s always so much that needs doing. And the fact that there is such a level of distraction, is a distraction in and of itself. One can easily imagine how much I’ve always sympathized with St. Martha.
In his post for us over at FLPH, Kevin looks at how St. Thomas Aquinas would address the problem of having your brain running a mile a minute while you’re trying to pray. I particularly like this bit of wisdom: if we’re making the effort to focus on God, both in terms of what we have to say and what He’s saying to us, God knows and understands that fact. We may find the distractions frustrating, but He’s aware that we’re doing our best if we keep trying. As Kevin notes, many of us are going to find that a blessed relief, i.e., that we can cut ourselves a little bit of slack if we’re making a sincere attempt, despite the screaming kids, the pets pooping all over the floor, the people flipping us the bird in traffic, and so on. This was a great post for all of us to draw some wisdom from.
Incidentally, if you found your way here today from the link to another article of mine featured on First Things this morning, for which I thank the good people at that excellent publication, I’m going to shamelessly ask for a bit of your time and charity.
My regular readers know we have been asking Catholic writers to donate blog posts to draw attention to the FLPH endeavor. We’re trying to establish a permanent hermitage before our good friend, Brother Rex Anthony Norris, finds himself a hermit without a home, as the place he is renting is going to be sold out from under him very soon. We gladly accept any an all donations on the FLPH site, and I’d ask you as well to please keep the success of this effort in your prayers, and share this project with anyone you think might be in a position to help. Thank you!