Turning my mind to the task at the appointed hour

Let us always desire the happy life from the Lord God and always pray for it. But for this very reason we turn our mind to the task of prayer at appointed hours, since that desire grows lukewarm, so to speak, from our involvement in other concerns and occupations. We remind ourselves through the words of prayer to focus our attention on the object of our desire; otherwise, the desire that began to grow lukewarm may grow chill altogether and may be toally extinguished until it is repeatedly stirred into flame.

— St. Augustine in a letter to Proba

This morning’s second reading in the Liturgy of Hours, especially from the very first paragraph, struck me on two fronts: in terms of my running and also my devotions. I have not been very good about getting up early to run AND to pray Morning Prayer. I have been doing well on one front: praying Morning Prayer, but not on the running.

Also I have been slacking on (meaning not praying) the Evening Prayer part, which is something I’m being asked to do as an oblate candidate for the Benedictines– not to mention it is something I want to do because I know it helps calm my spirit for the rest of the night. Tonight, for example, was one of those nights, my spirit was anything but calm.

When I don’t get up early to run, my desire, as St. Augustine writes, “grows lukewarm” no thanks to my “involvement in other concerns and occupations.” In other words, I get “wrapped up” in this or that, sometimes important, sometimes not really. The same can be said for my Evening Prayer time. I need to remind myself “through the words of prayer to focus my attention” on God. Likewise, I need to remind myself through words of encouragement to focus my attention on the goal of running in a marathon on June 6.

For the last month and a half, in terms of my running– and also my Evening Prayer time, I know what it’s like for the desire that once was lukewarm to become lukewarm and totally extinguished. Now is the time for the desire to pray and to run not to be repeatedly stirred into flame, but for both to be kept alight.

So this morning, I did make it out for a short 5K run. It wasn’t the best run, but I was out there. Now at 11:16 as I write this, again it is too late to get up by 5:30 to pray and run. However, I still can be up by 6:30 to pray and then to run. And while tomorrow night, I have a training session for a volunteer group in which I’m involved from 3 to 7 p.m., still my wife will be at an ambulance meeting tomorrow night and I still can find time for Evening Prayer.

For that matter, I still can find time for Evening Prayer tonight– and the run tomorrow and Evening Prayer as well.

Lord, help me get the rest I need this night and keep the flame within my body, mind and soul burning tomrrow and the rest of this week. Amen.

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