Practice of the presence of God


#1

Practice of the prensence of God by Brother Lawrence: is it orthodox? Worth reading?

God bless,
Ut


#2

Yes and yes. It’s shorter and more accessible than a lot of spiritual writing.


#3

I really liked the book, and probably will have to read again because I have forgot what I read. :smiley: :o , but one thing I remember he wrote in regarding to being patient – “do not run faster than the grace of God.” [not in exaxt words]


#4

I got it, and I’m enjoying it.

Its certainly a change of gear after reading John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, and Father Garigou-Legrange. :slight_smile: But the simplicity is good, and the trust in God’s providence and Grace. You can tell that he is a Carmelite though. He bring up in very simplified ways, many of the things that Thesesa and John say.

God bless,
Ut


#5

Ut,

It’s a wonderful little book and it’s orthodox. Although it is a very short book, I found it helpful to take in in small sections at a time. When I found a paragraph in particular that spoke to me, I’d re-read it, meditate on it and then work to apply that paragraph to my life. Then I’d return to the book later and repeat the process.

Even though it’s only about 23 pages, I found it was too rich with information to take in all at once.


#6

Absolutely orthodox and worth reading.

Another one in the same vein is Abandonment to Divine Providence. Short and easy to read without being “simple”.


#7

I’m finding that. I made the mistake of buying the audio version from Audible, and I’m starting to realise it was not meant to be read out loud. :slight_smile:

God bless,
Ut


#8

yes, this one is great and a priest recommended me to read this.


#9

I love this book. It’s very Catholic.

I think it’s funny that it’s also very popular in some Protestant circles.

If I could just apply this theology to my life, I know that I could be a saint. It’s just hard when there are so many distractions…

like CAF. :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

I love Brother Lawrence! This book started me on my conversion journey (which also coincided with 9/11) along with our Parish having some faith building meetings for couples.

His simplistic views make me return to this book about every 18 months for another look after I’ve tried to make things in my life too complicated.


#11

yes it is and very well worth reading, but check the translation and publisher. there are new age publishers who take classic Christian spiritual works and recast them with commentary and translations that incorporate new age ideas. This blasphemy has been committed with works by Hildegarde, Julian of Norwich, the Cloud of Unknowing, and even St. Benedict for example. Check the publisher, and the introductory notes and commentary.


#12

Thanks for the tip.

It just says Novel Audio. I’m not sure what translation they are using. I think it is a very old translation. There was nothing modern about the introduction.

God bless,
Ut


#13

I’m also currently reading the Dark Night of the soul. Its almost strange that these two books are considered spiritual classics when the tone is so different! Still, I can see how they complement one another. Simplicity with complexity.

I’m wondering if Brother Lawrence ever experienced the passive purification of the soul (like mother Theresa probably did)? :slight_smile:

God bless,
Ut


#14

Very good insights, UT :slight_smile:

Yes, if you read very closely Brother Lawrence did indeed go through the passive night of spirit (aka Dark Night). It was very early in his days in Carmel, though. In his letters he speaks of his great difficulty practicing his way and all the interior trials he faced . . . those 10 long years was his dark night. He was freed in a simple moment of abandonment when he declared he’d endure those trials for however long God wished.

All this is so hard to see, though, in reading him. All is such sweetness and light :slight_smile: We have to remember he is writing from hindsight, having lived in the “unitive way” that follows the Dark Night for some 40 years. Those dark early days were lost in the distant fog of memory which makes it difficult for readers to pick up on.

Shifting to your first thought, Brother Lawrence is a wonderful complement to any of the Carmelite masters especially St. John of the Cross. Brother Lawrence’s way is “how” we live out the deep theology of these saints that sometimes can be so difficult to follow.

The real epiphany for me came when I saw the way of Brother Lawrence as the “means” by which we purge our memory of it’s imperfections in the active night of spirit (not to be confused with the passive night just discussed). If you want to learn more, refer to “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” book 3, chapters 1-15. Chapter 15 especially provides the mystical theology behind everything Brother Lawrence says in his wonderfully simple way. :slight_smile:

Hope this helps!
Dave (Lawrence of the Blessed Sacrament, OCDS) :slight_smile:

PS. A wonderful translation is put out by ICS publications: www.icspublications.org. This work does a great job placing him in the context of John and Teresa.


#15

PS. Again: For a wonderful “clue” about his passive nights look to the opening pages (First Conversation) where his biographer speaks about the tree stipped bare and the effect it had on his soul. While not necessarily precise, we can probably link this experience to the passive night of sense and the illumination that flows from the initial grace of contemplation.

The 10 hard years that followed - where he endured many trials and temptations against practicing his way - is what we’d refer to as the passive night of spirit.

Dave


#16

I thought of that around five minutes after I posted the question. :slight_smile:

All this is so hard to see, though, in reading him. All is such sweetness and light :slight_smile: We have to remember he is writing from hindsight, having lived in the “unitive way” that follows the Dark Night for some 40 years. Those dark early days were lost in the distant fog of memory which makes it difficult for readers to
pick up on.

I’m wondering then if this makes his simple way, not so simple. If he is already writing from the perspective of the spiritually perfect (one fully on the passive unitive way) then doesn’t that make him a fairly tough act to follow?

I have the same issue with St. Therese and her little way. What at first seems really simple, is in fact, very, very hard, and implies years of painful active moritifaction, great practice in the love of God, and great humility.

Shifting to your first thought, Brother Lawrence is a wonderful complement to any of the Carmelite masters especially St. John of the Cross. Brother Lawrence’s way is “how” we live out the deep theology of these saints that sometimes can be so difficult to follow.

Agreed.

The real epiphany for me came when I saw the way of Brother Lawrence as the “means” by which we purge our memory of it’s imperfections in the active night of spirit (not to be confused with the passive night just discussed). If you want to learn more, refer to “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” book 3, chapters 1-15. Chapter 15 especially provides the mystical theology behind everything Brother Lawrence says in his wonderfully simple way. :slight_smile:

I’m still trying to figure out all the ins and outs of John’s theology. I’ve been wading through a book by Father Garigou-Legrange that gives a really good summary of the active, versus passive way, so I can at least talk about it at a cocktail party. His thesis is that the unitive way is the ordinary end of the graces we receive in this life, so that in the ideal situation, we should be able to skip purgatory altogether and enter heaven after death.

My issue now is how practical it is to follow this kind of spirituality given I’m expecting my third son, and I’m so busy in the active life. How do I even begin!!! :slight_smile:

Hope this helps!
Dave (Lawrence of the Blessed Sacrament, OCDS) :slight_smile:

PS. A wonderful translation is put out by ICS publications: www.icspublications.org. This work does a great job placing him in the context of John and Teresa.

Yes it does help. Thank you for posting.

God bless,
Ut


#17

Very perceptive mental link, UT :slight_smile: I like to think of Brother Lawrence as St. Therese’s big brother . . . the Little Flower before the Little Flower. And both were French living just a few miles apart (seperated by 200 years) . . . so go figure.:stuck_out_tongue:

To your point, both wrote “after the fact” of their Dark Nights and from the hindsight of the unitive way . . . some 40 years for Brother Lawrence; just a couple for St. Therese. With her, though, the peace and serenity of union was truly brief. Her night of spirit (which occurred when her uncle denied permission for her to enter Carmel) returned in her last days in the form of her trial of faith - interior suffering endured no longer for her own purification but for the good of souls.

And also to your point, both are deceptively “simple.” Their teachings aren’t necessarily as intellectually tough to follow as, say St. John, but just try putting their teachings into practice and see how difficult the simple things really are. :slight_smile:

And that’s the beauty of St. Therese and Brother Lawrence . . . they show us the path to get from where we’re currently at to where they ended up . . . union with God to the degree possible here on earth.

To follow them we just need to decide to start - and re-start - perservering in the trials and difficulties in doing so. This is what St. John refers to as the active nights.

None of this becomes easy, though, like “second nature” the way Brother Lawrence describes, until the soul as been brought - at least in part - to the passive nights. Here our distracted mind is cleansed of all the thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings and so on that constantly intrude on our efforts to Practice The Presence of God . . . making it so difficult. At the end of these passive nights, the “divided mind” comes to an end and the soul can converse with God continually, without distraction, in the midst of any and all activity. Multi-tasking in a spiritual way.

Something to look forward to, I suppose :slight_smile:

As a father of 4 young children and business owner I have all sorts of external distractions and reasons to say “no” - so I can definately relate to what you say. :slight_smile:

Brother Lawrence was an immensely practical and down to earth guy. If he were around today, his response to our situations would probably go like the old Nike TV commercials: “Just do it!” :slight_smile:

Wishing you well,
Dave :slight_smile:


#18

Most definitely. It is recommended by the Order that runs the Confraternity I belong to.


#19

What…do you mean you’re not there yet? :slight_smile:

As a father of 4 young children and business owner I have all sorts of external distractions and reasons to say “no” - so I can definately relate to what you say. :slight_smile:

Brother Lawrence was an immensely practical and down to earth guy. If he were around today, his response to our situations would probably go like the old Nike TV commercials: “Just do it!” :slight_smile:

Wishing you well,
Dave :slight_smile:

What would we do without Nike, the Carmelites, and really good spiritual directors?

Thanks again,
Ut


#20

So this distraction thing doesn’t go away until the night of spirit?

Awww, man. . .


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