Quote of the day, 9 March: Brother Lawrence

During the first years [of religious life] I ordinarily thought about death, judgment, hell, paradise, and my sins when I prayed. I continued in this fashion for a few years, carefully applying myself the rest of the day—even during my work—to the practice of the presence of God, who was always near me, often in the very depths of my heart.

This gave me a great reverence for God, and in this matter faith alone was my reassurance. I gradually did the same thing during mental prayer, and this gave me great joy and consolation. This is how I began.

I will admit that during the first ten years, I suffered a great deal. The apprehension that I did not belong to God as I wished, my past sins always before my eyes, and the lavish graces God gave me, were the sum and substance of all my woes.

During this period I fell often, but I got back up just as quickly.

It seemed to me that all creatures, reason, and God himself were against me, and that faith alone was on my side. I was sometimes troubled by thoughts that this was the result of my presumption, in that I pretended to be all at once where others were able to arrive only with difficulty.

Other times I thought I was willingly damning myself, that there was no salvation for me.

When I accepted the fact that I might spend my life suffering from these troubles and anxieties—which in no way diminished the trust I had in God and served only to increase my faith—I found myself changed all at once. And my soul, until that time always in turmoil, experienced a deep inner peace as if it had found its center and place of rest.

Since that time I do my work in simple faith before God, humbly and lovingly, and I carefully apply myself to avoid doing, saying, or thinking anything that might displease him. I hope that having done all that I can, he will do with me as he pleases.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

Letter 2 to a spiritual director

A Carmelite friar prays the Divine Office, the Prayer of the Church, on the bank opposite the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes during a pilgrimage in 2009
Image credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP / Flickr (Some rights reserved)

Lawrence of the Resurrection, B; De Meester, C 1994, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God,  translated from the French by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

3 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 9 March: Brother Lawrence

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  1. This blog post is very inspiring! The practice of the presence of God is so important, and Brother Lawrence’s journey to obtaining inner peace is truly admirable. I would love to know more about how he was able to reconcile his past sins and Trust in God, especially in moments when he felt like he was not doing enough to please Him. How did he find the balance between humbly and lovingly doing his work before God, and yet avoiding anything that might displease Him?

    1. To find the answer to your questions, I definitely recommend purchasing or borrowing the critical edition of The Practice of the Presence of God, published by ICS Publications. The link to the publisher’s online catalog and store is provided in the bibliographic citation at the bottom of this blog post. Editor Conrad De Meester does a marvelous job in the introduction and in notes throughout the book to explain Brother Lawrence’s process of transformation.

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