Fasting Day Five: Grace and Distraction
Today was a really good day on the fasting front. I was not very bothered about not partaking in food at fellowship, although it did look really good. I'll chalk up this win to the grace of God given in the Liturgy through the Eucharist.
I am deeply thankful for the gifts of the Liturgy, but it isn't exactly a graceful or powerfully Divine experience when you are wrangling half a dozen children. One of the difficulties I normally have in Church is distraction, especially in the pew. Praise God that His gifts are present even when my mind isn't always there.
We can also be helpful that we are not alone in this endeavor, and that many fathers of the Church have great advice for dealing with this problem.
St. Isaac the Syrian has this to say:
"Do not seek... to pray without distraction and so stop praying to cleanse your thoughts first. Rather, persevere in prayer, and out of perseverance... thoughts will be cleansed and distractions will withdraw... If you insist on not praying until you are freed from distraction, you will never pray; for distracting thoughts decline and disappear when we persist in prayer itself... If you wish to calm down your thoughts and find... pure prayer, stop hankering after material things. Renounce the obsession with the affairs of this world and the ambition for attaining them; for insofar as the motion of the world subsides in you and you renounce it, prayer will find a place to dwell in you."
I think St. Isaac is spot on, although his wisdom is pretty much counter everything our culture values. We must persevere in our prayer for it does cleanse the intellect and focuses the energies of the soul on the Lord.