Concentration is hard work

By Frank J Casella

Finding it hard to spend time with God, and to listen, is one of the responses that came from the recent Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum, about The Restless Journey of Life. That Eucharistic Adoration is one of the methods suggested for calming us down.

It turns our that Monks shared the same experience years ago, says Cal Newport in his recent blog article:

The monks were on to something. Concentration is hard work. It requires, for lack of a better word, more serious attention.

I too have found a calming during Adoration time, though I had to figure out that spending quiet time every day to ‘drain my brain’ helped to focus my concentration once I got to the Adoration Chapel. Otherwise all these thoughts and concerns would occupy my thinking and I had a hard time tuning in and listening to God speak. Many men at the Forum it seems resonate with this, as we were able to connect the dots to confirm we are not alone.

When you give God the space to speak, He has a lot to say.

I also find with men, that when we do sit down guy’s say they don’t hear God. The answer I found to this is when you think it is time to get up from prayer, that is actually the time that God is ready to speak, so stay put. Usually what happens then is all these phrases enter your brain that you better have pen and paper ready or you won’t remember it all.

You don’t rush this. Don’t treat God like a drive-up. He wants to know your intentional, and not distracted, because what He has to say is always something constructive. Many blog posts here, for example, have come from my Adoration time. Usually as a side thought, while themes and words from God fill my head on what I need to think about, instead of what I am thinking about.

Distractions today are, or at least they seem, at an all time high today considering technology. But, again, the Monks shared the same concerns, so I think it is a matter of being intentional about our concentration so that we can be the Catholic Man that God calls us to be. For example, I shared at the Forum how I use a flip-phone, because I said smartphones can steal our attention.

I didn’t mention that a main reason for my opinion on this is because I have lived through several car accidents where the other drivers where distracted by the smartphone. But I have also found that having a flip phone keeps me focused on my own thoughts, instead of spending time like on social media channels to see what others think instead.

I find that I am writing better because of more concentration or, rather, I feel better about my writing (whether or not it’s better is not for me to decide). I am writing on the thoughts God is placing in my heart, and not so much what others are saying. I’m always impressed with Bishop Perry, for example, because he does not own any social media account yet the thoughts and direction he provides for this apostolate are profound and you’d think he was (part of the conversation on Twitter or Facebook and) in the know.

Rather, he is out in the ministry field and has his finger on the pulse of his Vicariate. I also have several pictures of him alone in prayer at our events with the Rosary and with God. Doing the work of a bishop leading his flock and being with the people when he needs to be, otherwise he is in prayer. He works at it, and so can we. What more example do we need men because of the responsibility we have in the work place, at home with our family, and if we are married.

It is easier to be distracted, and that is what makes (the hard work of) concentration to cause more serious attention.

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Author: Catholic Men Chicago Southland

Catholic Men Chicago Southland (CMCS) fosters Catholic Men in personal holiness to make Jesus Christ the center of our daily lives, and sponsor of the Bishop Perry Catholic Chicago Men's Forum. CMCS is Catholic Apostolate of Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry of Chicago. Executive Director, Frank J. Casella Vision: To Nurture Catholic Men's Spirituality in the Chicago Southland