I was recently struck by Matthew Kelly’s description of the beauty of watching the Pope pray after receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. He went on to describe how he has witnessed the Pope in Mass in His private chapel. After receiving our Lord in the Eucharist, the Pope kneels down, goes to a place deep, deep inside of him, and he prays. It is as if none of the world around Him exists. Take this same Pope, and put Him in a football stadium filled with people and an innumerable number of distractions, and the scene is the same after he receives our Lord in the Eucharist. He kneels down, goes to a place deep, deep inside of him, and he prays. It is as if no distraction in this world can keep him from his conversation with God. I thought to myself: “when was the last time I felt myself go to that place deep, deep inside of me, completely undistracted, and talked to God?”
To this my sinful and human nature argues and provides excuses for its inability to do such a thing. He is the Pope after all. We are simply not at his level of holiness and devotion to the faith. While this is true, we are not at the same place as the Pope, we must be cautious in using this as a crutch to excuse ourselves from striving for such holiness. The question that I posed for myself was: has our culture simply found too many “justifiable” and “acceptable” reasons for failing to dig deep and have undistracted conversations with our Lord?
I am always relieved by conversations with other Catholic families, no matter how devoted they are to their faith life, that we all have one thing in common: children, and the distraction at Mass that often comes with our blessed children. We love them, and we love that we can use them to excuse us from finding that place within ourselves during the Mass. It has become socially acceptable to simply say “my kids were just so distracting, it was impossible to take anything from Mass today.” We blame the little kid behind us playing with toys for distracting us from prayer and our full attention during Mass. We blame the kid across the aisle who was fussing during Mass for distracting us from our full attention during Mass. Is the problem the distractions, or is the problem our lack of training ourselves to find that place deep, deep inside of ourselves in spite of innumerable distractions around us?
We parents then go on to say “my life is too busy, we just have too much going on, I can’t find time to pray, let alone find undistracted time to pray.” Yes, our lives our busy, I will not argue against that. The question I will pose to you is this: When was the last time you were too busy in your day to eat? Sure, we can miss lunch, or have to eat dinner at 10PM because our day was busy. But, we still find time to eat, because eating is necessary to our existence and we feel tired and malnourished without it. In the same regard we do not live on potato chips and skittles every day of our life. We would feel the ramifications of that lifestyle choice pretty quickly. Prayer, time with God and the Eucharist are our spiritual food and drink. Scripture reminds us of this over and over again. We feel tired and malnourished if we go without our spiritual food and drink. In the same regard, we will quickly feel the ramifications of eating a poor spiritual diet of lackluster, shallow prayer and time away from the Eucharist.
In chapter 5 of Luke’s Gospel God tells Simon to “Put out into deep water….Do not be afraid.” Are you putting out into deep water in your faith life? Or are you sitting in the shallow end, too “distracted” and too afraid to put out your nets for a great catch that is blessed by God? If we do not trust and seek God, and train ourselves to put out into deep water, we will never be able to find that place deep, deep within us even in an ideal world with no distractions, and we will miss out on an amazing and awe-inspiring relationship with our Lord and Savior.