Again, a second type of made-up penitent: This time, the penitent says something like this: “I pray, Father, but can’t seem to get anywhere in my prayer life. Strong temptations upset my efforts at prayer. I fight them but they just won’t leave me.”
This penitent is like a guy standing on a ladder, painting the ceiling of a kitchen. He gets frightened by a tiny spider, loses his concentration and falls. He survives with a scratch on his leg, but is otherwise O.K. He is still afraid of spiders so he’s going to inspect the ceiling carefully before he goes up the ladder again. He’s determined not to lose focus and fall a second time.
St. Albert the Great counsels us to just brush away these kinds of distractions as if they are house-flies dancing before our eyes. We don’t have to get out the artillery when all we need is a fly-swatter. Don’t fight with yourself to get back to the presence of God. Acknowledge the nature of the distraction and gently bring your heart back to prayer.”
When common distractions come, gently move your heart and mind back to God.