Suppose a thought nags your mind, placing itself between you and that darkness, asking you, “What do you want? Who do you seek?” Give this answer: “I want God. I am looking for God, only God.”
And if the thought persists, asking you, “Who is the God you seek?” answer saying, “The God who made me, redeemed me, and led me to this moment.” Speak to your mind, “Thoughts, you cannot contain God. You have limited skill and you offer no assistance. Be silent!” Ignore the activity of your mind by devoutly turning to Jesus, even if your thoughts appear to be holy thoughts.
Quite likely, you will imagine your ideas are helpful. Many excellent and wonderful aspects of Christ’s kindness, graciousness, and mercy spring up in your mind. They appear positive and worthy of your consideration, but as the mental chatter continues, it drags you down lower and lower, diverting your attention. Remember the Passion of Christ. This will lead you to recall your sinful past life. Memories of earlier times and places will flood into your awareness, scattering you in many directions; your concentration will be lost. This happened because you deliberately listened, responded, accepted, and allowed the thought to continue.
Still, these may be good and holy thoughts, essential elements as you begin meditation. You need to ponder frequently your own wretchedness, the Passion of Christ, and the kindness, extraordinary goodness, and dignity of God. Unless you do this, frustration will disturb your contemplation. With experience, you will learn to let distracting thoughts rest under a cloud of forgetting and attempt to penetrate the cloud of unknowing separating you from God.
Therefore, when God leads you to engage in the exercise described here, gently lift up your heart to God with love. Rest your thoughts only on the God who created you, redeemed you, and led you to this moment. Avoid any other thoughts of God. Direct a naked desire toward God.
You may wish to reach out to God with one simple word that expresses your desire. A single syllable is better than a word with two or more. “God” and “love” provide excellent examples of such words. Once you have selected the word you prefer, permanently bind this word to your heart. This word becomes your shield and spear in combat and in peace. Use this word to beat upon the cloudy darkness above you and to force every stray thought down under a cloud of forgetting. If a nagging thought pesters you, strike it with this monosyllabic word. If your mind begins to analyze the intellectual ramifications of your chosen word, remember that the value of this word is its simplicity. Do not allow the word to become fragmented. If you keep it intact, I can assure you distractions will soon diminish.