Distractions Affecting Piety

Father Guibert writes: “Do not be astonished at distractions that appear to interrupt your pious activity; they are the inevitable consequence of our native infirmity. And do not be the least grieved at them, at any rate when they are involuntary; for, just as birds in flight are not constantly beating their wings, but let themselves be borne onwards smoothly by the swift impetus they have gained by vigorous exertion, so souls have alternations of interior effort and repose, and in these periods of repose they still gain ground in virtue from the impulse they have received.”

“Nevertheless, it is your duty to prevent, if possible, and to fight against distractions, lest they should invade the soul, and at last develop into spiritual idleness. This invasion is most to be dreaded by those who are given to study or taken up with business. For them there is a great danger lest a life estranged from piety should be set up in their souls, and fill the whole field, and absorb all their activities.”

“Two means must, then, be used to keep the religious life in its integrity. The first is to make our studies a subject of prayer, and to do the same with our work or our business, in our intercourse with God; for in this way our piety will continue to be active in our whole being, and will sanctify all the aims that engross our interest. The second consists in renewing the thought of God in our soul from time to time, and in offering the activity that we are about to display in the duties of our calling as a sacrifice and prayer to God. For to work is to pray.”

“If we should happen to be tried with dryness, coldness and distaste, and if intimate intercourse with God becomes a wearisome burden to us, we should neither be alarmed nor discouraged, nor should we relax our exterior exercises. Let us not wonder if our interior activity suffers a certain amount of wear and tear; this ill, which is an entirely material one, will be remedied with a period of rest. . . . It is important that, without bitterness, and with the heart left calmly in the hands of God, we should remain as faithful in our relations with Him as during the period of consolations. The interior life is not dead, but it shows no flame because it is sleeping like the fire beneath the ashes.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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