Simone Weil lived from 1909 to 1943 and joined the Resistance during WWII when Germany occupied France. She grew up as a Jew, but mystical experiences brought her close to Catholicism. In her essay, reflections on the right use of school studies with a view to the love of God, for a group of Catholic schoolchildren she explains how “it is the highest part of the attention only which makes contact with God, when prayer is intense and pure enough for such a contact to be established; but the whole attention is turned towards God” (Callings, p. 400). And our calling is for our souls to grow closer towards God. Weil goes on to explain how the attention needed for prayer is beneficial when used on school studies, which in turn benefits attention in prayer.
Weil’s emphasis on attention is a great reminder for Christians today, for in a world full of distraction it is easy for us to get caught up in all the chaos and our prayer life suffers because of it. Weil reminds us that we need to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). The attention she speaks of in her essay is an intense and solemn concentration, and in today’s society that is not easy to achieve. With so many distractions in our lives, we often forget to make time for deep prayer, to have a conversation with God in which we are listen for Him. When we still ourselves and listen for God, His will for us is revealed.
In third grade I was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, so attention and concentration are not my strongest qualities. So, Weil’s philosophy on applying the same attention to school work as prayer is inapplicable to me. For, with ADHD I cannot sit still in silence for hours working on one problem; if I were do to so I would fail and would not be able to concentrate. Because the way my brain is wired, I always having to be physically doing something or my brain has have something to keep it active, like having more than one think to think about. So that makes prayer challenging for me, especially since I get distracted rather easily. However, Weil’s philosophy can apply to me, for if I practice concentration and attention on my school work then it will make using them for prayer easier. I need my prayer life to improve, because right now it is weak and I feel lost. I pray to God for guidance, but I do not think I am paying God enough attention; to hear His answers. God can overcome anything and everything; He can overcome my ADHD. I just need to give Him my attention so he can do it.