Author Topic: Brother Lawrence.  (Read 2838 times)

paul

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Brother Lawrence.
« on: September 05, 2014, 02:50:17 AM »
Ravi made reference to a short book containing the conversations and letters of Brother Lawrence.
The reference contains a link to a free online book called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

The first letter describes the Practice of the Presence of God.

FIRST LETTER

How the habitual sense of God?s Presence was found.

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 divers practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me, than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but how to become wholly GOD?s.

This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given myself wholly to GOD, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, 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 wandered from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered 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 into religion; and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it. These, I well know, are 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 wilfully, but it also begets in us a 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 is rendered as it were natural to us. Give Him thanks, if you please, with me, for His great goodness towards me, which I can never sufficiently admire, for the many favours He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things praise Him.

Amen.


Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2014, 12:21:36 PM »
Men invent means and methods of coming at God's love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?

Brother Lawrence

Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2014, 08:20:28 PM »
For a soldier friend whom he encourages to trust in God.

WE have a GOD who is infinitely gracious, and knows all our wants. I always thought that He would reduce you to extremity. He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever: thank Him with me for the favours He does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your afflictions: it is a plain mark of the care He takes of you; comfort yourself then with Him, and give thanks for all.
I admire also the fortitude and bravery of M. GOD has given him a good disposition, and a good will; but there is in him still a little of the world, and a great deal of youth. I hope the affliction which GOD has sent him will prove a wholesome remedy to him, and make him enter into himself; it is an accident very proper to engage him to put all his trust in Him, who accompanies him everywhere: let him think of Him the oftenest he can, especially in the greatest dangers. A little lifting up the heart suffices; a little remembrance of GOD, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and sword in hand, are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to GOD; and far from lessening a soldier?s courage in occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.
Let him then think of GOD the most he can; let him accustom himself, by degrees, to this small but holy exercise; nobody perceives it, and nothing is easier than to repeat often in the day these little internal adorations. Recommend to him, if you please, that he think of GOD the most he can, in the manner here directed; it is very fit and most necessary for a soldier, who is daily exposed to dangers of life, and often of his salvation. I hope that GOD will assist him and all the family, to whom I present my service, being theirs and yours.

Practice of the Presence of God-Brother Lawrence.

Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2014, 08:42:30 PM »
I know that for the right practice of it, the heart must be empty of all other things; because GOD will possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone, without emptying it of all besides, so neither can He act there, and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him.
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with GOD: those only can comprehend it who practise and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because GOD would have us.


The Practice of the presence of God-Brother Lawrence

advaitin

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2014, 09:47:08 PM »
It appears that there's also a book entitled Spiritual Maxims by Brother Lawrence, which seems to be analogous to Sri Atmananda's Atma Darshan and Atma Nirvriti, while the The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life would be analogous to Notes on Spiritual Discourses.

Quote
The conversations and letters in the CCEL electronic version are the content of the original book, "The Practice of the Presence of God." "Maxims" was another book originally. Although some print editions include "Maxims," they are later translations (copyrighted by the translators and publishers). However, I did find this pdf version. I don't know how complete it is: http://app.razorplanet.com/acct/40817-0391/resources/242_Reading_BrotherLawrenceMaxims.pdf[

Source: http://www.ccel.org/node/2865

Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2014, 07:47:15 AM »
advaitin/friends,
Thanks for the information on 'spiritual maxims'.It appears to me that a Great soul like our Brother Lawrence would never have cared to systematize his practice-an intuitive and simple one.It appears that even the letters that he wrote were at the insistence of someone who must have been his 'superior'(in the order of the moanstery).Yet such was the intensity of Brother Lawrence's spirituality that no one could fail to notice how this humble and totally self effacing and lowly person went about his ordinary chores-always in a cheerful and contented way.The works that he was engaged in did not even permit him to set aside time for any formal worship or meditation.Yet these things were just not needed for our dear brother was always with God.
The Great ones are simply contented to just live the Life-and whatever they communicated was about living it.
Namaskar.

Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2014, 07:53:28 AM »
Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer.

YOU tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving; but as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to GOD, as their last end.
When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection, at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.
I believe one remedy for this is, to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before GOD. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before GOD, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man?s gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the LORD. If it sometimes wander, and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that; trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind, than to re-collect it; the will must bring it back in tranquillity; if you persevere in this manner, GOD will have pity on you.
One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of GOD; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.
I have told you already at large, in my former letters, of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of GOD: let us set about it seriously and pray for one another.

Practice of the Presence of God-Brother Lawrence

Ravi.N

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Re: Brother Lawrence.
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2014, 07:31:18 AM »
IF we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little, to purify our souls, and oblige us to continue with Him.
Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time; and, in the height of your sufferings, beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers.
GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in GOD.
I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual, and so great, that I can scarce contain them.
I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great, that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do, that He never forsakes us, till we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me, as I for you.

The Practice of the presence of God-Brother Lawrence