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Distraction: A Fictive Excerpt
Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of the Holy Name, 8th Day, Year of Our Lord 2023

This is something I wrote this morning inspired by my own experiences with minor distractions and stories about Padre Pio experiencing what I wrote. This is from an unfinished work with a working title: The Northern Man, which explores corruption amongst clergy in the Church during the 15th century in Italy, from the perspective of two German nobles and one English Crusader who travel in Florence and Rome and the surrounding countryside.

I was keeping a vigil. Rome has afforded me many wonderful consolations in her images and sacred places, but I was not within a sanctuary with the Blessed Sacrament, and perhaps that is what exposed me to difficulty. I was before an image of the Holy Family.

And this was my deeply consoling meditation that went unfinished: How good and holy is St. Joseph, and how he cares for Our Blessed Mother, and that Blessed Mother, in Her gentleness, would take all my burdens upon Her if I asked and consecrated all my merits unto Her.

Or something of that nature. I was singing the Rosary, and I cannot remember, but I must have been on about the seventh bead of the sixth decade, for I remember finding some instruction and consolation in thinking on Our Lord’s temptations at His agony, when there was a figure at my ear breathing. I did not glance at him. He felt to be about three paces away, and when he saw that I did not look to him, he moved several times, and made noises, and did all he could to hover over me in intimidating manners. Still, I ignored him, and then the Lord permitted him to lay a hand on me.

He gripped my shoulder with some force, and still I ignored him, discerning him to be nothing but temptation and distraction, and accepting whatever pains for a penance. However, I am ashamed, but I could not recollect myself nor continue my labors of meditation which I had set out to do. I leaned desperately upon Our Lord, Who seemed to be there at my heart, but all temptation to wrath washed over me like a great fog of smoke. What, can I not get an hour’s solitude? For I am now obliged in all these duties and the other importunities being in Rome, and I hear confessions, and every other work. But I rose in the black of night for my devotion, and now I cannot do that? Such like thoughts tempted me deeply, and I had no charity, nor meekness.

Had I looked at him, I would have known him for the great devil himself, and would have found ample reason to offer him no sympathy. But as such, at the first aggression, I thought perhaps that he was a penitent or some such. He was not. His aggression continued, as the Lord permits. He struck me, and then I saw who he was, and leaning upon the saints that allow such defenses, I struck him back.

Our combat escalated quickly. He threw me against a wall, and I bled, and am unsure but may have lost the third tooth on my right side, on the top. It was always fairly loose, paining me as a child, and I had long since confined it to being ignored, dedicated to some intention which I cannot remember. It may have fallen out before this circumstance.

Regardless, I used the wall for a lever and grabbed him below the torso. My weight carried him to the ground, and there I was able to rain some blows upon him which I hoped would decrease his savagery and strength. But it did not, for he returned them to my back. I moved up to strike at his face, but he hurled me from him, and I struck the wall again.

A candle had fallen and gone out. This distracted me a moment, and when I righted myself and looked for him again, he had fled, perhaps back to the pit of hell. I do not know.

I went back to kneel before the image and resume my meditations. I found myself unable to pursue the same which I had begun, and instead poured myself out to Our Lord as best I could, confessing all my wrath. Still that temptation plagues me at the remembrance.

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