On the way to work, traffic is backed up for miles, cars honk angrily as you merge, a podcast or playlist noisily plays from your car speakers, and messages flood your phone.
Does this scene sound familiar? For many of us, this is a staple of our morning routine. While we may try to carve out time for prayer and silence, there is little we can do about the noise we are immersed in daily: the lanes of traffic, loud advertisements on billboards, and hundreds of marketing emails flooding our inboxes.
Yet God does not abandon us to the stress and noise of the world. Rather, He has given us direct access to His infinite peace and comfort through prayer and the little-known virtue of recollection.
Recollection, understood as a spiritual virtue, means attention to the presence of God in the soul. It includes the withdrawal of the mind from external and earthly affairs to attend to God and divine things. Recollection can be deployed anywhere, at any time, even amid great external noise, when we immerse ourselves in that profound interior solitude in which the soul is alone with God.
Active recollection is acquired by our own ordinary efforts aided by the grace of God. It is available to any devout soul and can be cultivated through the habit of thinking of God’s presence and the discipline of directing our attention to Him.
Although God desires us to be joined to His perfect peace always, recollection can be difficult for a modern soul. Constantly surrounded by noise and stimulation, we have grown so accustomed to the presence of distractions that we struggle to desire the quiet solitude of recollection.
However, there are some simple ways we can grow in the virtue of recollection. By avoiding unnecessary distractions (such as excess media), cultivating a strong prayer life, and deliberately seeking solitude and silence throughout your day, you will become more comfortable with withdrawing from the noise of the outside world. You may even find that you begin to crave the profound silence of God’s presence!
Like any virtue, recollection is a gift and grace from God. Although the practice of the virtues may not be flashy or rewarded by our culture, it is the necessary means by which we work out our salvation. In the popular book Uncommon Virtue: Everyday Methods for Attaining Spiritual Excellence, Fr. Raoul Plus—one of the most popular Catholic authors of the 20th century—explains how the practice of everyday virtues is our most direct path to holiness. Bring home your copy today from The Catholic Company!