Saint Ignatius: On Dealing With Distractions In Prayer

“Even very devout servants of God complain about wanderings and instability of the mind, and we read that St. John occasionally relaxed his contemplations by lowering his attention to a bird he held in his hand, saying to a follower of his who was disedified that, just as the bow cannot remain always bent, so neither could the understanding, etc.  It is true that sometimes, even many times, numerous servants of God have a great and vivid awareness, quite certain and stable, of his eternal truths; but for them to remain permanently in this state is impossible to believe.”

Letter to Francis Borgia

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3 thoughts on “Saint Ignatius: On Dealing With Distractions In Prayer

  1. Ahhhh…. But the real question remains… Does God require that state of heavenly awareness constantly? Our communion with Him can occur even when performing the ordinary…though our minds are set to another task. Do we give Him glory by being? As the birds in the air and the rocks and the mountains do? Can we just be faithful to His calling, His nudging, His speaking with us as we travel life. The Prophets of the Bible, including John, though caught up in spirit with the Most High were given earthly tasks to fulfill and were not in that “constant state” of contemplation. Or, is it, that we look at that state of contemplation through a lens that has a different focal point? Were not the Prophets in performing their separate tasks and duties for God, (including the ordinary) just as focused as when they contemplated? Constantly looking to the Director for affirmation that it is well? Maybe all the Lord requires of us is to be in a constant state of obedience. Maybe out of obedience we will obtain the vivid awareness of God and flow in the river of truth. Even so, maybe the elementary task is to seek Him and keeps our eyes focused on Him. In doing so, obedience will be natural, conversation flowing

  2. Interesting, Watchman. This is precisely the question Ignatius was addressing. One of the early Jesuits, Francisco Onfroy, was arguing that the Jesuits needed to spend more hours in prayer each day. Ignatius thought this was the wrong way to think about prayer. He felt that doing God’s will, that which God had called us to do, was as important as prayer, and that while we can’t keep God constantly in mind, we should try to remind ourselves as much as possible that we are doing God’s will. And, as Saint Ignatius always emphasized the importance of obedience, what you say about obedience may be close to his thinking. Indeed, that was what irked him about this particular Jesuit was–he wasn’t being obedient!

  3. Dear Father, when I wrote last evening, I had no idea that you, yourself were a priest as St. Ignatius was. 🙂 You have spurred my thoughts all day. Thank you for the refreshing wind and challenging my thought process. I look forward to purchasing this book. I think it is both as you have said. Looking forward to keeping in touch.

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