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Distraction and Reading in Meditation [Finding God Through Meditation]

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.

Distraction and Reading in Prayer - SD Finding God through Meditation -

Of Reading

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.


If you would like to read the entire text, please click here and purchase Finding God Through Meditation from Emmaus Publishing.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Liz G

    First, I would like to thank you for this website and the daily readings on various topics relating to prayer, meditation, and the interior spiritual life. As someone who is having trouble finding a spiritual director, these daily essays/reflections have been helpful. Thank you!
    Today’s reflection from you seem so appropriate because as I was doing the mass readings for today, I felt that my mind just wouldn’t connect with the readings. It took great effort to focus this morning. So it was a comfort to know this is not unusual problem, but rather a way the enemy tries to derail us from our relationship with God. Today’s topic also led me to some of the previous topics on yoir website.
    Again, thank you!

    • LizEst

      …and thank you, Liz G, for your most kind words. We are happy that the site is helpful to you. God bless you!

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