What does Peter of Alcántara have to say about distraction and reading in meditation? Find out in today’s excerpt and reflection from Finding God Through Meditation.
After a due preparation follows reading those things that are to be meditated upon; that must not be too hasty, but mature, serious and quiet; to which the understanding must not only be attentive, to understand those things which are read, but also, and chiefly, the will; that those things which are understood may give a spiritual gust and feeling. When the reader falls upon any place which much moves his affection, let him there pause awhile, that in his heart it may cause a greater impression. He must also beware not to spend too much time in reading, thereby to hinder meditation, it being a more fruitful exercise; for as much as things attentively considered pierce more inwardly and produce greater effect.
What to do when the mind is distracted: If, peradventure, sometime it happens that the mind be so dispersed that it cannot settle itself to prayer, then it is better to insist awhile longer in reading, or to join reading to meditation; or alter the reading of one point, to pause upon that awhile, then after the same manner to proceed to the others: although the understanding tied to certain words which are read cannot so freely be carried into diverse affections, as when it is free from this bond.
In putting out of unprofitable thoughts, great effort is to be used: It is oftentimes very profitable for a man to strive to expel his distracting thoughts; after the example of the patriarch Jacob, manfully to wrestle against them, persevering unto the end: after which fight, the victory being obtained, God does, for the most part, give greater devotion, or more pure contemplation or some other supernatural gift, which he never denies to those who faithfully fight in his cause.