When you are stuck in the spiritual life, try these helpful tips.
There can be times in our spiritual life when it is difficult to pray or meditate, and we may not know what to do next. This can make prayer an arduous chore and not something enjoyable.
When met with such difficulties, we can look to French Trappist monk Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, who writes about different ways of conversing with God in his spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate. He proposes various ideas that can be helpful to a soul in need of inspiration and those who need to liven up their spiritual life.
For example, Chautard explains that you should only read as much as your attention span will handle.
Avoid reading or meditating too much. — Every time you pause, remain as long as your mind finds it pleasant or useful to do so.
This is an important bit of advice, as meditation may be difficult for us, and often if we try too hard we do more harm than good.
Another point Chautard makes is to dwell on your spiritual reading slowly, but also moving forward if you find no refreshment.
Take some text of Holy Scripture, or some vocal prayer, like the Pater, Ave, or Credo, and say it over, stopping at each word, drawing our various holy sentiments, upon which you may dwell as long as you like. At the end, ask God for some grace or virtue, depending on what has been the subject of your meditations. Do not stop on any one word if it wearies or tires you. When you find no more matter for thought or affections, leave it and pass on quietly to the next.
Chautard reiterates this point of focusing on particular passages, finding what is useful to you, but then moving on when there is nothing else to gain.
Take some spiritual book (New Testament, Following of Christ), read a few lines, pausing long in between — meditate a little on what you have read, trying to get the full meaning and to impress it on your mind. — Draw some holy affection, love, contrition, etc., from the reading … Every time you pause, remain as long as your mind finds it pleasant or useful to do so.
Above all, Chautard advocates a balanced approach to meditation, recognizing our own human faults while focusing on what is most beneficial to our soul.