On Being Distracted While at Prayer

Tom McDonald came across some very unhelpful advice on how to deal with distraction while at prayer. He turns to some of our Catholic prayer masters for better instruction, and you should go read it, because it’s great, helpful stuff we don’t read enough.

But I also couldn’t help remembering Sister Alice McConville, rc, who long ago gave me the sanest and simplest advice on dealing with a wandering mind at prayer. I wrote about it in Strange Gods:

“To pray is to love,” she said, “and that is the easiest and most difficult thing to do. When you are distracted in prayer, imagine a mother gently putting her finger under the chin of a distracted child and simply guiding its attention back where it belongs: no guilt and no remonstrance. You just go on.”

The distraction and the correction, she meant, are only the merest moment in a dialogue with eternity no high drama required.

Her gentle advice has remained with me all of my life, and added immeasurably to my experience of prayer.

strange gods cover tilt


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