Spitzer Center Blog


Distraction & Discernment

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.

The world that we live in is so … it’s so hard to hear our hearts.

This was a great insight of C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters, and I think I’m conflating two letters, but he gets very upset with Wormwood, the young demon.

He says, “You young demons don’t know what you’re doing.” He says, “All you have to do is to get the humans to forget that God exists,” to make you unconscious.

He says, “The way that we’re going to do it is to make the world so noisy that people will not be able to hear their hearts. We have our best specialists working on it but we’re not quite there.” He wrote that in 1942.

We live now in a massively distracted world where it’s very, very hard to slow down. And so what I would tell grade school kids, high school kids, young adults, older adults, take time daily to slow down.

Unhook, step into the contemplative, eternal stream of life. Get away from technology, I say that in my book 40 Weeks, for your examine time, your prayer time.

Find a technology free zone where you can get back in touch with your spiritual nature, which is going to inform you a lot more of what’s going to make you happy and what the world is really about than anything you can consume artificially.

I knew a lot of students in university who got the job of their life and they would find themselves maybe in New York on the upper east or west side, happy hour, Thursday afternoon breaking the music, the beer is empty, and suddenly they’re listening to how they’re feeling and I guess they would use the same word that Ignatius did, dry and dissatisfied.

“How can I have the best job that I always wanted and not be happy?” There are many, many, many unhappy people in our culture.

And I think as well maybe too many of us don’t have the capacity to slow down and to hear these two directions that the spiritual world is pulling us in, in order to be able to say, “This one is making me dry and dissatisfied. I’m not happy. This one is making me happy.”

I like to tell high school kids move towards the light and away from the darkness.

There’s only two directions in life, there’s a million plot lines, but you can only move toward God or away from God.

And that’s basically the essence of spiritual discernment is learning to listen to those different movements in your heart.

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