Newman once said that ‘we must pray’, and knew that what mattered here was regularity, but he also acknowledged the difficulty which perhaps all of us who pray have felt – the ease with which the mind wanders from prayer. Here Pusey considers these difficulties.
Who in the days of his flesh…
Such is the pattern which He, who is our pattern, gives us of acceptable effectual prayer. What are our prayers? Heavy, for the most part, and earthly; often we are unwilling to begin them, readily falling in with some plea, why we should not pray now, readily ceasing. And well may we have no pleasure in prayers such as we too often offer. Or of those she really desire to pray, how many have their minds so little controlled at other times, or so thronged with the things of this life, that the thoughts of the world pour in upon them, when they would pray. Step by step, we sunk amid the distractions of the world, and step by step only may we hope that our Father will raise us out of the mire wherein we plunged ourselves.
Rut our first step, the very beginning and condition of our restoration, is to unlearn the distractions whereby we have been beset. In seeking to remedy our distractions, our first labour must be to amend ourselves. Such as we are at other times, such will our prayers be. A person cannot be full of cares, and riches, and pleasures, and enjoyments, and vanities of this life, up to the very moment when he falls down at God’s footstool, and leave these companions of his other hours behind him, so that they will not thrust themselves in with him into the holy presence. We cannot keep our thoughts disengaged at prayer, if they are through the day engaged; we cannot keep out vain thoughts then, if at other times we yield to them. We must live more to God, if we would pray more to God; we must be less engrossed with the world, if we would not have the world thrust itself in upon our prayers and stifle them.
Peace is the beginning and end of prayer; its condition and its reward. Resign yourselves, that ye may pray, and God will guard your thoughts, and hold them to Himself. If, also, you would guard against wandering in prayer, you must practise yourself in keeping a check upon your thoughts at other times. In this busy age, in which every one would know about everything, and, like the Athenians, our occupation seems to be to know some new thing, and what conveys news is thought the instrument of knowledge, and knowledge of every sort is thought a good, it is not a light matter, but one to which we must take great heed; what we hear, and admit into our minds. Our minds are holy things: they are the temples of God; and so, for His honor’s sake who has so hallowed them, we should be on our guard what we allow to enter there. Be not curious about things which concern you not: what happens in the street, or passes by you, or befalls a neighbour, unless charity requires it of you. These things waste the mind more than you can well think. Rather recollect that your concern is not with the world; your home, your hopes, your abiding-place, is not here, but in God; your citizenship is not on earth, but in the heavens; your places here shall shortly know you no more; the earth shall contain no more of you than the dust of your bodies, in keeping for you against the resurrection. …
It is the infrequency of prayer which makes prayer so difficult. It is not a great effort now and then, which makes the things even of this life easy to us; it is their being the habit of our bodies or our minds. It was by continued exercise which we were not aware of, that our bodies, as children, were strengthened; it was by continued practice that we learnt anything. By continued gazing at far-off objects, the eye sees further than others; by continued practice the hand becomes steadied and obeys the motions of our mind. So and much more must the mind, by continual exercise, be steadied, to fix itself on Him whom it cannot grasp, and look up to Him whom it cannot see. Yea, so much the more exceedingly must it with strong effort fix itself by His grace on Him, because we cannot see Him or approach to Him, but by His revealing Himself and coming down to us, and giving us eyes to see and hearts to comprehend; and this He will do only to the earnest and persevering, and to us severally, as we are such. They then will pray best, who, praying truly, pray oftenest. …
Neglect nothing which can produce reverence. Pass not at once from the things of this world to prayer, but collect thyself. Think what thou art, what God is; thyself a child, and God thy Father; but also thyself dust and ashes, God, a consuming fire, before whom angels hide their faces: thyself unholy, God holy; thyself a sinner, God thy Judge. Then forget not that of thyself thou canst not pray. We come before Him, as helpless creatures, who need to be taught what to ask for, and knowing, to be enabled to ask, and asking, to be enabled to persevere to ask. Then watch thyself, what helps or hinders thee to fix thy mind on God. Then as to the words of our prayer: we should beware how we pass hastily over any of our prayers. It is not how much we say, but what we pray, which is of real moment. …
Distraction will come through weakness, ill-health, fatigue: only pray, guard, strive against it; humble yourselves under it, and for the past negligences, of which it is mostly the sad fruit; rely less upon yourself, cast yourself more upon God, hang more wholly upon Him, and long the more for that blessed time, when the redeemed of the Lord shall serve Him day and night without distraction.
St Bosco said:
Oh saints preserve us. Vorhis has a video where our blessed cardinal Dolan says that being gay isn’t against church teaching. Hes defending his decision to champion the blessed St Pattiys Day parade. Cardinal Dolan says the gay paraders aren’t promoting the gay life style. They are simply saying….”I am gay” which cardinal Dolan says isn’t against church teaching. Oh Virgin Mary, look down upon us. Our beloved religion now parades with homosexuals. Oh the pain the pain. Everyone knows that the catholic church has no affiliation with darkness and homosexuality. Oh Mary, helper of the helpless, come down and save us.
You remind of QVO, Bisto…oh wait, you ARE QVO. Silly me!
St Bosco said:
Get thee behind me Satan. Quiav the Great has been a light and a guide to my feet.