Blessed Candlemas moving into Ordinary times to dearest Sisters in Christ…
Mounting current research brings a brutal truth: multitasking, while seeming efficient, may actually use more time and involve more error. Moving from one task to another with different streams of information makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can actually cause mental blocks that can slow a person down. MIT neuroscientist, Earl Miller, notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
This news may come harder for we women who, more often than men, generally make a sport of this. While complexity and familiarity of tasks play a part, overall this start/stop/start process is rough on us. There is evidence that it can eventually squelch overall concentration and creativity even when engaged in single tasks. One solution is the twenty-minute rule which recommends engaging in a single activity for at least twenty minutes before moving to another. Result: brain health.
As Seven Sisters we practice and live the sixty-minute solution! Wow, consider the brain and soul health we experience! While each of us carries life’s challenges and burdens, let us be reminded that our only charge for our Seven Sister Hour is to pray for one person. Single tasking at its best!
What a perspective to realize this is a gift in itself: to be drawn from the distractions of the day, the week, to engage in what de Caussade reminds is the “duty of the present moment”. We are not insensitive to the other concerns and demands of our day or lives, but rather responding fully to a heavenly task to which we have been assigned. In the long run we are benefitting from the disciplined practice. Another hidden gain of this Apostolate! De Caussade believes that the one given over to God in the moment is a “soul as light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following the inspirations of grace. … they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it.” Oh, what blessings this affords!
Our weekly visit to the Adoration Chapel happily brings us to that most special place of the meeting of two eternities (past/future), the present moment. We arrive to meet our Lord to give ear to learn His wisdom and love regarding the sole object of our time and prayers: one priest or bishop, who likewise lives in the balance of these two eternities. He is expected to respond to the present moment himself. We have been summoned to come alongside, beseeching the graces for this to happen. As Catholics we repeatedly ask Our Lady to pray for us now and at the hour of our death – the two decisive moments of any life. De Caussade encourages, “Come, not to discuss the words of others, but to listen… For in the sacredness of every moment Divine Grace is telling you alone all that is required.”
Reality check: at times the single task focus proves challenging to lay aside (even momentarily) the many things we balance and manage, as both whimsically and somberly depicted by Duda’s Princess Juggler. While it might be tempting, or even seem necessary, to carry all that we juggle into our Hour, trust that the grace is sufficient to discipline that time as we have committed it: one hour for one.
If personal concerns overwhelm, perhaps another can cover your Hour that week or perhaps extra time in prayer in the Chapel can be spent prior to or following your Hour. The April 2016 Communiqué offered helpful hints to help curb distractions. It might be worth a re-visit on the Web. Related ones are July 2017 (benefits of being before the Blessed Sacrament) and Nov 2017 (de Caussade regarding submitting to Divine Will). On the Web site, simply click on any of the Communiqué images to open and then scroll to the bottom of the screen to select an archived Communiqué.
Let us remain encouraged, holding firm in faith, that our sacrificial time spent in our Holy Hours of singular focus compelled by love are and will be amply rewarded. De Caussade affirms, “The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams, but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love.”
Just for fun – and to perhaps ‘prove a point” regarding multitasking: try this simple exercise. Time this: Draw two lines. On one write: “I am a great multitasker.” On the other write all numbers 1 through 20. Note time. Re-set watch. Draw two more lines. Write the same things on each line as before BUT only one character/number at a time. So, on the first line write an “I”, then switch to the second line and write a “1”. Then go back to line one and write an “a”, then to second line and write a “2”. Complete the exercise filling the two lines with the same info. Hmmmm – how long did it take you the second time? Any mistakes? I rest my case!
Our every effort to keep our Hours focused upon one reaps benefit. Let us embrace the grace upon grace to be keenly aware of the present moment – at every moment! How beautifully St Augustine reminds us that our Ever-Present Help is Ever-Near to assist. “You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love” (St Augustine). Oh, truly, Sisters, in our call to love, we live the richest lives!
United in prayer and mission...
that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest...
... eternal gratitude continues as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day.... Pray that I will not 'spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted...' (St Teresa of Calcutta)
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