Around 1963 a group of us snuck into a high school seminary to visit one of our friends; “Steve” met us at a prearranged spot. We felt like the CIA sneaking into the Kremlin…it was dark, the lights were out, we went to the refrigerator and got some food, then to another room that was pitch dark to eat our stolen treasure…. wow, my heart is still beating as I think of it…. boy that Danish tasted great. In the quiet and dark someone lit a match… immediately our eyes concentrated on this one light in the darkness… like a laser beam, focused on this target with all other items pushed to the side…. no longer worried about Fr. Igor catching us.
Concentration allows us to bring all our powers (mental, physical, emotional) into focus. We rely on concentration to get through work or school every day. When we’re unable to concentrate, we can’t think clearly, focus on the task, at hand, or maintain our attention. So, what helps us focus and concentrate, and why can’t we do it all the time? Hmmmmmm.
I think a lot has to do with the importance of the issue at hand. If I misplace my phone, my attention immediately goes to finding it…. all else is pushed to the side… where is that phone…let’s see, “I had it in the kitchen, could it be in the car, rats maybe I dropped it in the parking lot at Shoprite…” My phone is very important to me.
I read a beautiful meditation yesterday that speaks to how the “importance of the issue at hand” causes us to concentrate and push other things to the side.
“The child who gets lost from his mother while looking at the toys in the toy store, cares nothing for any of the toys until he finds his mother again. No toy can tempt him away from his search for his mother. This is not because the child is a moral giant, but because the child wants his mommy.” (Magnificat Lenten Booklet, pg.9)
During our times of trials and temptation, it’s only the presence of Jesus, our beautiful and compelling savior, that can cause us to shift our gaze from the trial or temptation at hand and focus on the Lord. The child wants his mommy more than anything else. We need to desire our beloved God and savior more than anything else.
It’s the presence of Jesus that opens our hearts to something more… the gaze of Jesus on us. “Our hope is not in our strength, but in gazing upon Christ who first gazes on us.” (ibid)
I think the Lord was gazing on this group of junior CIA candidates some 60 years ago at Holy Family Seminary. Many of them returned his gaze over the years, including Steve who left the seminary after high school, later married and is now home with the Lord. Boy, I can still taste those Danish.