Distractions in prayer -praying with devotion


Praying with devotion -It is the loving intention behind the prayers that matters most
A friend and I have been discussing distractions during prayer, and how it is often difficult to pray with devotion. How often our mind wanders! I have six children ages 6-16 who are full of life and have lots of energy. Now, imagine setting them all down and trying to recite a rosary together...well, lets just say there are quite a few distractions! Then too how many distractions during Holy Mass!

While reflecting on this I came across these words from St Gemma:
Monday, August 18, around 9:00am

"Oh God... my God! ... Do not be offended if in the morning I come as I am. You see, You know my soul is full of sins, better yet, it is a dwelling filled with every kind of beast. And You, a lily of purity, a fountain of beauty, how can You dwell in such confusion? ... You nourish and sustain me, and I- what nourishment do I give You? ... You graze among the lilies but in my heart there are not these flowers ... And what do You find?......Tell me ... Thorns! ... Still, oh Lord, in my soul there is no purer part than......The enemy, You know, the devil has deprived me of everything. So what place can I give you, oh Lord, in my heart? ......my bed is dark...Your columns are of gold, Your steps are covered in purple; but in my heart these colors do not exist. I am afraid, I am afraid! In this condition I throw myself too much, too much into the arms of my celestial bridegroom ... I know too well of my unworthiness but I also know Your mercy . . .What food shall I give You today, oh Lord? ... Ask me ... ask me, and then come back! ..."

So what "food" did God receive from Gemma? Why was He so pleased with her so as to shower her with so many gifts and graces? Surely it was her love and her desire to please Him in all things, with humility and good intention.

Awhile back I read a true story in an autobiography written by a mystic and holy woman who had 5 children. She was complaining to God that during her Mass and prayers she was so distracted. She felt especially bad about receiving Holy Communion amidst many distractions and with little devotion.

One day, not long afterwards while the older children were at school, her youngest son told her that he "wanted to spend the whole day with her."
Full of joy with her sons intentions, she suggested that they go for a picnic together.

When they arrived in the picnic area, her son sat with her for a moment, then, seeing a butterfly off at a distance, he suddenly ran off, chasing the butterfly from flower to flower. The mother smiled as she watched him and thought to herself- "so much for spending the whole day with me!"
Immediately she heard interiorly "But do you love him any less?"
"Of course not!" she replied.
"You see, although he is distracted by the butterfly, his desire and intention is to spend the day with you, because he loves you. It is not the distractions, but the love and the intention that matters. And so it is with you and your prayers."

And here we have a great lesson. We will often be distracted in our prayers, but it is the desire, love and intention in our prayer life and devotion that matters to God.

I remember reading that during mealtimes and most other free time, St Padre Pio often kept one hand in his habit, fingering the beads while reciting the rosary, often even amidst his conversations in the refectory and elsewhere. Surely he must have been distracted while saying these prayers, but surely it was the loving intention and desire behind the prayers that pleased God.

At Fatima and in the lives of the Saints we are often urged to "pray the rosary". Yet, never is it said "pray the rosary well"...... it is always simply, "pray the rosary".
Surely we should try to say our prayers with as much contemplation and devotion as we can muster, but it seems that with God what matters most is the desire and intention, that is, the love by which we say them and by which we do all things.


"Lord, if you wish, you can save me; but the number of the sins I carry with me is great; it is infinite. Remember, oh Jesus, your mercy ... I hoped, oh Jesus, as I confessed so many times before you, to be self-sufficient in something; I hoped in my own strength ... But when I began to act on my own, that was when I fell and lost all you had allowed me to gain. But soon after, oh Jesus, you illuminated me, and then I understood that what I thought I could be self­ sufficient in was exactly what I never could have done on my own. I had the will but I lacked the strength; I had the strength then lacked the will."
-St Gemma Galgani June 28, 1902

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This really got to me, I'll be sure to pray for St. Gemma Galgani's intercession.

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