Devotion Makes All Things Easy
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!
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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