Skip to comments.What Is Your Biggest Distraction? No Need to Look Very Far!
Posted on 09/01/2016 6:54:18 AM PDT by Salvation
We usually think of distractions as coming from the world around us, but is that really the most common source? Consider the following parable, drawn from the stories of the early Desert Fathers and from monastic experience:
Sometimes there would be a rush of noisy visitors and the silence of the monastery would be shattered. This would upset the disciples; not the Master, who seemed just as content with the noise as with the silence. To his protesting disciples he said one day, Silence is not the absence of sound, but the absence of self.
The fact is, our greatest distraction is usually our very self. Peter Kreeft has observed, God made eyes to see everything but themselves (Practical Theology, p. 223). And while we sometimes must look inward to examine our conscience or to know our inner self, what God most often wants us to see and focus on is outside and above us. Look to the beauty of creation, the wonder of others, the magnificence of God. These are not distractions; they are often exactly what God is trying to say to us, what He is revealing to us.
We are called to a kind of ecstasy in which we look outward and upward. The English word ecstasy comes from the Greek ekstasis (ek- (out) + histanai (to place or stand)), which means standing outside yourself.
Yes, looking outward and upward is the key. St. Thomas Aquinas makes an interesting observation regarding Marys astonishment at the greeting of the angel: To a humble mind nothing is more astonishing than to hear its own excellence (ST III, q. 30, art 3). Humility is self-forgetful and looks more to Gods glory, on vivid display outward and above.
St. Augustine described one of the essential problems of the human person as being incurvatus in se (turned in on himself). In doing so, a whole host of distractions assail us and we begin to think or say,
Yes, distractions like these (and myriad variations on them) swim through our mind when we are turned inward. Most of them are rooted in pride and its ugly cousin, vainglory.
But as the opening parable from the desert fathers teaches, it is the absence of self that brings true focus and serenity. Indeed, I am a witness of this, for my freest, most joyful, and most focused moments have come when I was most forgetful of myself.
In moments like these, God takes us (who are so easily turned inward) and turns us outward and upward. The myriad distractions that come from self-preoccupation are hushed for a time, and forgetting our very self, we are almost wholly present to others, to creation, and to God. The noisy din of anxious self-concern quiets and our world opens upward and outward.
The Psalms often speak of God placing us in a spacious place (e.g., 18:19; 31:8; 119:45): You have set my feet in a spacious place, O Lord (Ps 31:8). There is nothing tinier and more cramped than being turned in on oneself.
Ask the Lord to set your feet in the wide spaces, to open you outward and upward. The worst distractions are not the noises outside us, but rather the ones within us, noises that come from being too preoccupied with ourselves. The silence that we most crave is not found in the absence of sound, but in the absence of self-preoccupation.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
Cell phones, obviously!....................
“Cell phones, obviously!....................”
Craigslist. Even though I really shouldn’t spend any money on toys I’m attracted to every flathead, straight 8 and Lincoln Mark 7 or 8 that gets listed. At least I don’t have expensive vises like horses, drugs, or younger blonds...
Same with me and Mustangs!..............the car, not the horse...............
The 'Master' in this offering is not the Lord Jesus and the disciples are not the Twelve; the master of the monastery and his disciples is being cited. ... unless the author can cite the Bible verse where Jesus gave this teaching, It is too easy to conflate these different sources.
Hoo, boy! Yep.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.