Tuesday 5 March 2024

How to Overcome Distraction in Prayer - Fr Ed Broom, OMV - CTS Books

How to Overcome Distraction in Prayer
ISBN 9781784697655
eISBN 9781784697167
CTS Booklet D849

I have read over 75 books and booklets that are part of the CTS Prayers & Devotions Series. Some of the earlier ones are just mark CTS Devotions, but more recent ones have both Prayers and Devotions listed as the series name. This series has spanned decades. It has had books come in and out of print. This volume was published in the spring of 2022 and thought I picked up the eBook as soon as it released, I lost track of it and did not get around to reading it until the ends of 2023. It is a wonderful little volume.

The description of this volume is:

“Distraction can be a major hindrance to forming a habit of prayer and a deep prayer life. In this book, Fr Ed Broom offers practical advice on how to overcome distractions so we can speak to God with our whole heart and mind.

Prayer can be a struggle. Whether it’s because of busyness at work or school, the chores and clamour of family life, intrusive worries and anxieties, or ever-present digital distractions. Many of us struggle to form a habit of prayer. Fr Ed Broom is here to help Catholics learn to pray. In this book, he teaches us to recognise the causes of distraction in our lives and gives simple, practical advice on how to overcome them so we can speak to God with our whole heart and mind.”

The chapters in this volume are:

Noise and Distractions: A Ubiquitous Modern Phenomenon
Silence and Recollection in the Old Testament
The Life of Jesus: A Model for Silence, Prayer and Recollection
Distractions from Left and Right
Ten-Step Programme to Conquer Distractions
Frequently Asked Questions about Obstacles to Prayer
Praying Lectio Divina
Building a House of Prayer in Our Soul

I highlighted a number of passages while working through this volume, some of them are:

“I survived in spite of all this rather constant noise, but as a consequence I appreciate silence all the more. In the absence of a blessing, one appreciates the blessing all the more when attained.”

“One of the chief remedies for a life of distraction, a life of dissipation, and a life of noise and clatter is the cultivation of a serious prayer life. In fact, the opposite of distraction and dissipation is the idea of ‘recollection’.”

“The entire public life of Jesus can be divided into intense activity, prepared for by deep silence and recollection. This has served as a model for the lives of many saints, especially those who chose the religious life.”

“However, St Joseph’s silence in Scripture could not be more eloquent. It speaks of maintaining a time of silence for prayer, secure against any form of distractions. Moreover, St Joseph proved, by his silent actions, his sincere love for Jesus, Mary and the heavenly Father, as well as those with whom he came in contact. And, lastly, his silence was part of his profound humility. May the silence of St Joseph dispel the distractions of our daily life!”

“How important it is for us to have silence, without distractions, so as to think clearly when making important decisions that may affect the rest of our lives.”

“This is another essential condition for fruitful prayer. Mark’s Gospel presents Jesus rising long before dawn, finding a solitary place, and being totally absorbed in prayer. No distractions in the least.”

“With the Easter Triduum–Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday–we enter into the heart of the Church’s liturgical year and into the very heart of Jesus and his love for us. Holy Saturday has the characteristic notes of utmost silence and profound recollection, beckoning us to the avoidance of all earthly and worldly distractions.”

“This contemplation is not a dead, infertile, useless silence. Quite the contrary: it can foster recollection, helping us remove ourselves from a loud, noisy and distracted world, creating for us a fecund silence filled with the love of our Saviour for all mankind.”

“This chapter describes seven serious distractions to our prayer life that by and large are unrecognised, that are lethal to our relationship with God, and that rob us of our dignity and of our destiny, which is heaven. We need to be aware of these lethal distractions so that we can avoid them and take our prayer life and friendship with God more seriously–and not place our salvation in jeopardy.”

“In light of the experience of St Anthony, therefore, we should not be surprised that, as we strive for holiness and a life of recollection that fosters prayer, the devil–the enemy of our salvation according to St Ignatius of Loyola–will be close by distracting us with constant temptations.”

“The First Principle and Foundation). The devil wants us to be distracted and to live out the modern philosophy of the sensualist: “You have one life to live! Live it up! Eat, drink and be merry!””

“Material possessions are not intrinsically immoral or evil; the problem is how easily we can become attached to them, live for them, and even become slaves to them.”

“How erroneous to say that the prophet Muhammad and Allah the supreme God of Islam are the same as Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who came to save us through his incarnation and death on the cross, shedding every drop of his Precious Blood on Calvary for our salvation. These are two totally different belief systems claiming redemption and salvation. They cannot both be true. How injurious it is to God, who is truth itself, to assert that truth and falsehood are indifferent in his sight.”

“We have examined seven of the many distractions that pull us away from God, who should be our primary focus: the devil, materialism, utilitarianism, religious indifferentism, and moral relativism, as well as holding on to past resentments and hurts, and worries and fears about the future.”

“Jesus told St Faustina Kowalska that a good confession should have three basic qualities: transparency, humility and obedience. If you make your confession properly and with a sincere disposition, you can have no doubt that you are forgiven.”

“By applying your mind to a daily diet of solid spiritual reading, the cobwebs of mundane and earthly distractions will dissipate like the dew exposed to the morning sun. In short: to counteract the many worldly distractions that we are constantly bombarded with, we must neutralise it by solid spiritual reading.”

“Most people don’t know what to say; that is why there are different prayer methods. Two are introduced in this book. The penultimate chapter presents a classical method of prayer encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI called lectio divina (see “Praying Lectio divina, pp69-72), teaching us how to pray with Scripture, and when we pray with the Gospels, how to enter into the life of Christ and become present to him and he to us.”

“What is clear, is that Jesus is calling each one of us to enter into “the one thing necessary”–a deep, intimate friendship with him through prayer, and not sometimes, or when we feel like it, but all the days of our life!”

“We need a blueprint to build a house; we also need a blueprint to build a house of prayer within our soul. St Ignatius of Loyola gives us this blueprint in the Prayer of Ignatian Contemplation.”

“With Jesus, the most important friendship in our lives, St Ignatius of Loyola says to give him an hour a day. Spend one hour a day with Jesus and he will bless the other twenty-three hours of your day! If, in all honesty, you cannot pray one hour a day, then make a commitment to pray at least thirty minutes a day to establish this intimate friendship with Jesus.”

“Let us resolve to defeat the enemy of our soul by being faithful to our daily conversation and growing friendship with Jesus. Fortified in his love and grace, we are able to turn our good-will and resources with greater love and charity to the needs of others, those whom God places in our lives, and he will bless our efforts with even more abundant fruits.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this volume. There is a lot of great material in this volume. Fr Ed pulls from many sources, he gives biblical examples, and examples down through church history. It is a booklet that could be read time and again and with each reading something more or new could be gleamed from it. 

This booklet was a great read. I know it is one I will return to again in the near future. I worked through this booklet over a few sessions. It was engaging and it challenged me. I can easily recommend this booklet for any Catholic. It is another great read from the CTS.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Prayers & Devotions series click here.

Books by Fr Ed Broom OMV:
Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary
From Humdrum to Holy
Road Map to Heaven: A Catholic Plan of Life
Compendium of Marian Devotions
10 Weeks to Spiritual Advancement

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