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Devotion Makes All Things Easy

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Finding God Through Meditation (Week 4 of 7)

Devotion Makes All Things Easy

It is all too easy to see this phase of life as difficult, as so hard that, of course, I don’t have time for some luxurious things, like painting my toenails and putting in earrings or praying a full rosary.

Except…except that I catch myself, all too often, taking the easy way out. I don’t intend to. No, no, I mean to be a Very Good Catholic, with all my rosaries prayed and my kids properly catechized. My goal is to have a gold star on my Catholic report card when God comes a-callin’.

And then life hits. The baby’s up 17 times at an age when apparently, to the rest of the world, he is plenty old enough to sleep through the night. I’m juggling a few things differently than I intended, dealing with drama that sideswiped me in the middle of the day, and giving myself excuses when, in my heart, I know I don’t need them.

No, what I need to do is just do what needs to be done.

I’m not being fanatical here. I’m referring to the passage that greeted me when I started my reading of this week’s assignment:

Devotion makes all things easy: Amongst all the troublesome difficulties to which they who frequent the exercises of prayer and meditation are subject, none is greater than that which they suffer from the defect of devotion which often is felt in prayer. For if they have this, nothing is more sweet, nothing more pleasant, nothing more easy than to insist on prayer and meditation. But if that be wanting, nothing more hard, nothing more difficult, nothing more burdensome than to pray. Wherefore, seeing we have already spoken of prayer, meditation, and the method to perform it, now it will not be beside our purpose to treat of those things which partly promote and partly hinder and extinguish devotion in the mind of man; as also to lay open the temptations which are obvious to those who frequent these pious exercises; and, last of all, to annex some certain counsels which may not a little avail to the well performance of this business. We will, therefore, begin from the definition of devotion, that it may manifestly appear what a precious pearl it is for which we war.

Finding God Through Meditation, Chapter 4, paragraph 1

St. Peter goes on to outline, in great detail, the nine means to acquire devotion as well as the nine impediments to devotion. (Here’s a guy who was writing listicles long before the SEO-maximizing bloggers were scouring for ideas!)

In both lists of nine, I found guides that made me facepalm myself, even as I highlighted and dog-eared the book. They’re common sense when you look at them: yes, reading spiritual books and keeping custody of the senses is just what we all knew we should do, but are we?

And venial sins block us…am I the only one to have a big DUH!? moment? I was, though, very struck by the impediments list, especially as I considered the challenges I’ve faced in my own life recently with devotion.

There’s no “pass” for devotion, and St. Peter reminds us that, in fact, there are natural helps (and hindrances!) built in all around us. I’m planning to tap into these this week!

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 7

Discussion Questions:

1. Of the impediments to devotion, which do you most struggle with? How can you address this, with God’s help and grace?

2. This week’s reading covered far more than I had space to write about. Were there any of the common temptations to meditation and their remedies that resonated with you? (Chapter 5) What about the admonitions necessary for the spiritual person? (Chapter 6)

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Terry

    Sarah, Thank you! I love your posts.

  • Judy Silhan

    Completion of exercises is frequently a problem do the temptation of drowsiness. Though I have become used to getting up very early to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, I still fall prey to sleepiness and wanting to return to the comfort of my warm bed. I have also found that trying to focus on spiritual reading from a comfortable chair in the living room invites this same temptation.
    A huge impediment for me is what St. Peter calls a multitude of affairs, activities which take up my whole time, and which suffocate the spirit. As I mentioned earlier, I am involved with so many things during my days that I forget our Lord, who gave me the ability and grace to do them in the first place.
    Another key problem with having meaningful devotion, and which St. Peter speaks of, is intermission of exercises, or stopping and starting spiritual practices. For morning devotion, not guilty; but for the rest of the day I frequently will start a routine, then get busy, something comes up, and a few days later, the devotion has dissipated again. With this thought, I was reminded of the difference between perseverance in prayer and intermission of such prayer. When struggling with sleepiness, aridity, unprofitable thoughts, etc., one seeks God’s help with grace, and continues and perseveres, thus allowing Him to strengthen me and experience further His love for me. With intermission of prayer, stopping and starting, there is nothing to build a strong foundational life of devotion on.
    Being relatively new to the spiritual life, St. Peter’s eighth temptation – inordinate Draw to Study, is huge for me. Having lost all of my faith formation, knowledge of the Real Presence, the saints, Mary, etc., I basically started relearning my faith when I started Avila; and all of my knowledge of the faith has been acquired during this span of less than two years. As a result, my thirst for knowledge and understanding of our Lord and His ways is not easily satiated. St. Peter, with his remedy for my unquenchable thirst, reminded me that it is far better to exercise myself in the love of God, rather than in the exercise of trying to know everything, and that when I am judged, He will not ask me what I have read, but what have I done and how have I lived my life.
    As you mentioned, there is a vast amount of material to reflect on this week, and I have probably written far too much. I am so very glad I decided to take the time to read this particular book, as opposed to my many others. (Obvious reference to my trying to learn and know everything.)

    • LizEst

      All good points, Judy. From a very practical standpoint, drink a glass of water when you feel sleepy. Sleepiness can be a sign of dehydration. A glass of water (all at one time) is a good antidote to sleepiness. …and yes, exercise yourself, primarily, in loving God!

      • Judy Silhan

        Thanks, Liz. When I read St. Peter suggesting praying on ones knees or other painful gestures, the thought immediately came to mind, you won’t be able to get up off the floor. So, your idea of drinking water had not entered my mind. I will definitely try it.

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