VII. Distractions
(Little Catechism of the Life of Prayer, 5.1-8)

"Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.' The Lord said to her in reply, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.'" (Luke 10.29,42)

Discarding Debris

Distractions of the mind abound:
The senses turn to stimuli,
As thoughts and notions float around --
Silence can be a great ally.

Distractions are debris that churn,
In the pool of the mind's eye;
The soul detached from them will learn
To disregard them drifting by.

The time of prayer is God's to hold;
To turn the mind's focus away
Willfully is withdrawn and cold --
It suspends prayer in disarray.

A quiet time in prayer's corner,
With an icon or cross to view
Will help the strewn mind to foster
Attentive silence He'll imbue.

With persistence, silence is reached;
As distraction's debris are beached.

"At first it may cause a good deal of trouble, for the body insists on its rights, not understanding that if it refuses to admit defeat it is, as it were, cutting off its own head. But if we cultivate the habit, make the necessary effort and practice the exercises for several days, the benefits will reveal themselves, and when we begin to pray we shall realize that the bees are coming to the hive and entering it to make the honey, and all without any effort of ours. For it is the Lord's will that, in return for the time which their efforts have cost them, the soul and the will should be given this power over the senses. They will only have to make a sign to show that they wish to enter into recollection and the senses will obey and allow themselves to be recollected. Later they may come out again, but it is a great thing that they should ever have surrendered, for if they come out it is as captives and slaves and they do none of the harm that they might have done before. When the will calls them afresh they respond more quickly, until, after they have entered the soul many times, the Lord is pleased that they should remain there altogether in perfect contemplation." (St. Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, chapter 28)

Holy Spirit, help me to disregard the distractions that float by, that all of my attention may be kept for the Lord, resting my mind in silent peace before Him. Amen.

(c) Paul Buis, 2007