A Prayer for the Distracted

This prayer may provide some helpful thoughts to the Christian who finds himself in Church, or anywhere, totally distracted and unable to pray. Please note that I have employed the capitalization standards of the Douay Rheims Bible, so as to avoid so many words being capitalized (“you,” “who,” etc.).

My Jesus, I cannot pray. I’m thinking about everything but you… what I have to do today… what my neighbor did to me yesterday… I’m arguing with people in my mind. But I’m not speaking to you, which is what prayer is.

As I look at the tabernacle before me, I know that you are truly present in it, body, blood, soul, and divinity. I know that you are here, Jesus, yet I have trouble thinking of you. When the Holy Sacrament is unveiled and held up at Mass, I can say with holy Simeon, “my eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples” (Luke 2:30-31), because I see you, my Savior, although still veiled by the appearances of bread.

But now you are in your tabernacle, quiet. And my mind is restless, unable to think of anything holy.

Yet, for all your silence, you are God, and God is, as the theologians say, pure act. In your repose under the species of bread, you are ceaselessly active. While my mind is “active” on many fruitless things, it is you, Jesus, who are a dynamo of divine and human activity. As God, you are eternally being generated by the Father, and eternally breathing forth, with the Father, your common Love, who is the Holy Ghost. As Man, you are the High Priest “ever living to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). You constantly present to your Father the nail-prints in your hands and feet, and the sacred wound in your side. These glorified scars are a constant source of grace as they bring the merits of your Passion down to humanity. But intercession for us is not all you do, my Jesus. You adore the Father, you thank the Father, and you re-offer yourself to Him in reparation for our sins.

All of this is going on in Heaven, even now; all of it is going on here, in our little tabernacle, where you are so quiet.

What about me? Here I am all distracted in the presence of one who is perennially undistracted, who, as God, never forgets me, and as Man, constantly offers perfect praise to the Father through the Holy Ghost. I belong to your Mystical Body, Jesus. You are my Head, and I am your least little member. Brought into your Body, the Church, by your mercy, I am plunged into the ocean of praise that has swelled for all eternity in the inner life of the Holy Trinity. Made your member by grace, I am initiated into the chorus of those who adore God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23 sq.). Give me, O Jesus, a voice to sing the hymn of praise.

In my own little way, may I now unite myself to you, Jesus, so that your attention may supply for my distraction? May I now join my feeble and scattered mind to your ceaseless praise of your Father, who is also my Father, of your God, who is also my God (John 20:17)? May I now, O Jesus, make your prayer my own?

Saint Paul says of us Christians, that “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30). That is, of your body, flesh, and bones. He also says that we are to have in us your mind (Phil. 2:5). My poor mind, flesh, and bones are part of you, Jesus, because I am a member of your one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church: that is, of your Body. Should someone neglect me, he neglects you (Mat. 25:45); should someone do good to me, he does good to you (Mat. 25:40); should someone persecute me, he persecutes you (Acts 9:4). Therefore, my Jesus, I make bold to insert myself into your laus perennis,1 for there I belong by right, as one of your own.

But I am helpless to place myself there, for I am powerless to sing the canticle of praise. I am dependent on your mercy to quiet my passions as you silenced the demons, to make my mind tranquil as you calmed the sea – to increase the firmness of my Faith, the strength of my Hope, and the ardor of my Charity. Please send me the Holy Ghost that He may pray in me with His “unspeakable groanings” (Rom. 8:26). Do this, good Jesus, that I may render to the Holy Trinity a fitting service of praise when I assist at Mass, when I sing the Divine Office, when I am at mental prayer, and when I pray the Rosary; but not only then: let my whole life be to the “praise of the glory of your grace” (cf. Eph. 1:6), that the words of the Apostle may be fulfilled in me: “All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).

May I, the least particle of the Host that is your Body2, cleave firmly to you when the priest holds the Sacred Victim at Holy Mass, and repeats, “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him is to Thee, God the Father Almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

And now that I am alone in the chapel, and too readily think of other things while you are silent in your unceasing activity, let me look upon you, “the author and finisher of faith,” so that I may render honor and glory to the Holy Trinity. This is the purpose of my life, and what I hope to do for all eternity.


* * *

1 Continual praise.

2 There is a deliberate, poetic confusion of the “Body of Christ” that is the Eucharist and the “Body of Christ” that is the Church. But the poetic is here meant to bring out the deep connection between the two. Saint Augustine pointed to the Bread of Life as he told his flock, “be what you see; receive what you are.” The Church is a eucharistic reality; the Eucharist is an ecclesial reality, for it is feeding on Christ’s physical Body that makes us one in his Mystical Body.