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Lectio Divina Reading

October 21, 2004

(Excerpts taken from The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence, Barbour Publishing, 2004)

Open – Psalm

A Pilgrims Prayer

"Lord of all pots and pans and things…make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!"

Thus Brother Lawrence was able to turn even the most commonplace and menial task into a living hymn to the glory of God. The conversation and letter of this humble but exalted lay brother have been compiled to show all of us how, at any moment and in any circumstance, the soul that seeks the companionship of God may find Him. Brother Lawrence discovered this secret more than three hundred years ago in a monastery in France, but its truth continues through the centuries to bless Christians who truly seek to know God and feel His presence.

First Letter

Since you desire so earnestly that I should communicate to you the method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of God’s presence, which our Lord, of His mercy, has been pleased to vouchsafe to me, I must tell you that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed on by your importunities; and now I do it only upon the terms that you show my letter to nobody. If I knew that you would let it be seen, all the desire that I have for your advancement would not be able to determine me to it. The account I can give you is:

Having found in many books different methods of going to God, and diverse practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but to become wholly God’s. This made me resolve to give the all for the all; so after having given myself wholly to God, that He might take away my sin, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He, and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world. Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge; at other times I beheld Him in my heart as my Father as my God. I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandering from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, not withstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wondered involuntarily. I made this my business as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of God.

Such has been my common practice ever since I entered in Religion; and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it. These I well know to be imputed to the mere mercy and goodness of God, because we can do nothing without Him, and I still less than any. But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy presence, and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our offending Him and doing anything that may displease Him, at least willfully, but it also begets in us Holy freedom, and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of. In fine, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God rendered as if it were natural to us. Give Him thanks, if you please, with me, which I can never sufficiently admire, for the many favors He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things praise Him. Amen.

I am in your Lord,
Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence was born in France in 1611. He spent an undistinguished 18 years in the army, then served as aide to the treasure of France in Paris. Attracted by the life of the Discalced Carmelites, he finally joined the order and stayed with them for the remainder of his life. He served as cook in his community for thirty years and never sought advancement to any more loft position. When he became blind, he was released form his duties and died a few years later, in 1691.


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