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  #1  
Old Apr 26, '09, 10:05 am
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

I got a copy of this book three years ago and never really read it. I received another copy as a gift at Christmas. I'm almost done with it, and I decided to compare it to my previous copy. I feel compelled to warn you about the first copy I got.

The 1982 publication by Whitaker House is not very good at all. It is a loose paraphrase. In the words of the publisher's preface: "In this abridged edition, we have sought to update and clarify the language of this Christian classic, paraphrasing where necessary, while keeping the essence of the message intact." It goes way overboard. It excises several passages, some of which are distinctly Catholic:
  • mention of praying at set times throughout the day (in his Carmelite monastery) in Conversation #2
  • a reference to receiving absolution through a confessor in Conversation #2
  • references in Conversation #2 to acts of mortification are corrupted; Br. Lawrence spoke of "bodily mortifications" as "useless, except as they serve to arrive at the union with God by love" and that "all possible kinds of mortification, if they were void of the love of God, could not efface a single sin." (pp. 21-22) The Whitaker version renders these two separate clauses as one, "that all possible good works or self-abasing acts of contrition we could possibly do would not erase a single sin." (p. 18)
  • a quote from Br. Lawrence at the end of Conversation #4 in which he mentions kneeling in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament
It also re-orders his 15 letters, damaging them in the process:
  • Whitaker's Letter #6 appears to be completely fabricated
  • Br. Lawrence's 11th and 13th letters are missing completely, probably because they praise the salvific quality of suffering and bearing suffering joyfully
  • Br. Lawrence's 14th and 15th letters are merged into one, retaining only the first sentence of letter #14
The new copy I have, from Spire, is far better.
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  #2  
Old Apr 26, '09, 1:31 pm
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Hmm, I picked up the Spire edition recently almost by accident, and recall reading the book in the past though I don't remember what edition it was. There were some things in that that struck me as off in perspective that always bothered me, despite the good content of the book otherwise -- I no longer recall the details. Perhaps it was because of what you have written above, I should read the Spire edition soon and make a new judgment, I'd like a new small book on this theme.

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  #3  
Old Apr 26, '09, 4:03 pm
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

I've only seen one other translation (a third), online.

It uses the phrase "Blessed Supper" instead of "blessed sacrament". (The Spire edition does not capitalize the phrase.) If I could find the original French text, I could produce my own translation.
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  #4  
Old Apr 26, '09, 4:32 pm
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by japhy View Post
I've only seen one other translation (a third), online.

It uses the phrase "Blessed Supper" instead of "blessed sacrament". (The Spire edition does not capitalize the phrase.) If I could find the original French text, I could produce my own translation.
Ah! I would dearly love to see the original French too. Perhaps it is online somewhere?

There's nothing like going to the original language to get the full connotations the author desired.
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Old Apr 26, '09, 4:48 pm
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

The French edition is "L'Expérience de la présence de Dieu" by Frere Laurent de la Résurrection. I'm searching for the text...
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  #6  
Old Apr 27, '09, 12:17 am
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PhilotheaZ PhilotheaZ is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by japhy View Post
I've only seen one other translation (a third), online.

It uses the phrase "Blessed Supper" instead of "blessed sacrament". (The Spire edition does not capitalize the phrase.) If I could find the original French text, I could produce my own translation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shin View Post
Ah! I would dearly love to see the original French too. Perhaps it is online somewhere?

There's nothing like going to the original language to get the full connotations the author desired.
http://livres-mystiques.com/partieTE...t/laurent.html

http://www.theotime.com/Article23.html

The content of both sites is very different. In fact, I did a side-by-side comparison of the same letter on both websites, and the exact wording is quite different. So even going to the original language is no guarantee that the words have not been tampered with over time. I have no idea which, if any, is the original.

Another question comes to mind: was it originally written in French? Latin may have been the language du jour in monasteries (although some of his letters were to lay persons, and might have been in th vernacular).

Last edited by PhilotheaZ; Apr 27, '09 at 12:35 am.
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  #7  
Old Apr 27, '09, 12:38 am
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilotheaZ View Post
http://livres-mystiques.com/partieTE...t/laurent.html

http://www.theotime.com/Article23.html

The content of both sites is very different. In fact, I did a side-by-side comparison of the same letter on both websites, and the exact wording is quite different. So even going to the original language is no guarantee that the words have not been tampered with over time. I have no idea which, if any, is the original.

Another question comes to mind: was it originally written in French? Latin may have been the language du jour in monasteries (although some of his letters were to lay persons, and might have been in th vernacular).
O.o

What is this? A Sherlock Holmes mystery? We can't even get the original done up properly?
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  #8  
Old Apr 27, '09, 5:10 am
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilotheaZ View Post
http://livres-mystiques.com/partieTE...t/laurent.html

http://www.theotime.com/Article23.html

The content of both sites is very different. In fact, I did a side-by-side comparison of the same letter on both websites, and the exact wording is quite different. So even going to the original language is no guarantee that the words have not been tampered with over time. I have no idea which, if any, is the original.
The second web site is a different edition... it only supplies one letter and one conversation. The first web site is much more thorough. I would expect the first web site produces the original French text, because its style matches the English text in the Spire edition: the paragraphs in the conversation almost all begin with "Que ..." ("That ...")

This French text matches very well with the Spire edition.

"qu'il n'avait pas besoin de directeur, mais bien d'un confesseur pour recevoir l'absolution de ses fautes qu'il faisait" (Conversation 2)

"toutes les pénitences et autres exercices n'étaient utiles que dans la mesure ou ils servaient à amener l'union avec Dieu par amour" (Conversation 2)

"toutes les pénitences possibles, si elles étaient séparées de l'amour, elles ne serviraient pas à effacer un seul péché." (Conversation 2)

I only lament that Conversation 4 is missing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilotheaZ View Post
Another question comes to mind: was it originally written in French?
Yes, I've found references to the original letters having been written in French.
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  #9  
Old Apr 27, '09, 5:29 am
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Ah HA!

I've found text from Conversation #4 online in French. And it ends thus (the text from the web page is black, the text of Conversation #4 is red):
On ne le voyait jamais agir en hâte ; mais avec une juste modération, il donnait à chaque chose le temps qu'il lui fallait, conservant toujours son air modeste et tranquille, travaillant sans lenteur et sans précipitation, demeurant dans une même égalité d'esprit et dans une paix inaltérable. "Le temps de l'action, disait-il, n'est point différent de celui de l'oraison, je possède Dieu aussi tranuillement dans le tracas de ma cuisine, où quelquefois plusieurs personnes me demandent en même temps des choses différentes, que si j'étais à genoux devant le Saint-Sacrement."
No doubt about it. Blessed Sacrament. Not "Blessed Supper", that's for sure.
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  #10  
Old Apr 27, '09, 4:34 pm
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

An excellent English edition is available here:

http://www.icspublications.org/books..._others09.html
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Old Aug 12, '12, 9:54 pm
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

I know that this is an old thread, but I'm glad I found it. I just began reading this book a few days ago, and I found it strange that a Bro. L. never mentioned the sacraments, the office, or anything like that at all. In fact, I was wondering if the guy was Catholic at all! Then I saw the OP's note, and sure enough, I have the 1982 publication by Whitaker House.
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Old Aug 12, '12, 10:18 pm
JaredR JaredR is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

For some reason this book seems to have a few kooky translations and presentations. I think this is because some non-Catholic groups want to claim Br. Lawrence for themselves.

It's a beautiful book though. I love Brother's message, though I can't honestly say I follow it. I do try to think of the presence of God, but I think of the future life more than Brother did. He was not concerned with reward and punishment... only God in the present moment.
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Old Aug 13, '12, 6:38 am
japhy japhy is offline
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyof4 View Post
I know that this is an old thread, but I'm glad I found it. I just began reading this book a few days ago, and I found it strange that a Bro. L. never mentioned the sacraments, the office, or anything like that at all. In fact, I was wondering if the guy was Catholic at all! Then I saw the OP's note, and sure enough, I have the 1982 publication by Whitaker House.
Glad to be of help!
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Old Aug 13, '12, 6:40 am
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

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Glad to be of help!

Do you have an edition that you would recommend?
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  #15  
Old Aug 13, '12, 7:53 am
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Default Re: Brother Lawrence - The Practice of the Presence of God

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Do you have an edition that you would recommend?
The edition by Spire is what I recommend. I link to it in the original post.
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