Quote of the day: 16 January

Several days ago during a discussion with a pious person, I was told the spiritual life was a life of grace that begins with servile fear, that intensifies with the hope of eternal life, and that finds its consummation in pure love; and that there are various ways of ultimately arriving at this blessed consummation. I haven’t followed these methods at all…

During the first years, 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…

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 (excerpts)

 

Carmelite friar praying the breviary at Lourdes LawrenceOP Flickr 3862034328
A Carmelite friar prays on the banks of the gave de Pau in Lourdes, France | paullew / Flickr

 

 

Lawrence of the Resurrection, B 2015, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, translated from the French by Sciurba, S, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

St. John of the Cross Novena — Day 6

Whoever flees prayer flees all that is good.

Sayings of Light and Love, 169

 

SCRIPTURE

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.

Though an army pitched camp against me,
my heart would not fear;
though war were waged against me,
my trust would still be firm.

One thing I ask of Yahweh,
one thing I seek:
to live in the house of Yahweh
all the days of my life,
to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh
and to consult him in his Temple.

For he shelters me under his awning
in times of trouble;
he hides me deep in his tent,
sets me high on a rock.

And now my head is held high
over the enemies who surround me,
in his tent I will offer
exultant sacrifice.

I will sing, I will play for Yahweh!

Yahweh, hear my voice as I cry!
Pity me! Answer me!
My heart has said of you,
“Seek his face.”
Yahweh, I do seek your face;
do not hide your face from me.

Do not repulse your servant in anger;
you are my help.
Never leave me, never desert me,
God, my savior!
If my father and mother desert me,
Yahweh will care for me still.

Yahweh, teach me your way,
lead me in the path of integrity
because of my enemies;
do not abandon me to the will of my foes
false witnesses have risen against me,
and breathe out violence.

This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,
in the land of the living.
Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold,
put your hope in Yahweh.

Psalm 27

 

MEDITATION

Let’s have a virtual show of hands: who among us has had an experience where God seemed to be hiding or even absent when we pray? Who among us has ever prayed, “God, where are you?” Has anyone ever said, “prayer isn’t working for me, God doesn’t care about me, I give up”? Has anyone ever experienced dryness in prayer, where you can’t feel anything anymore? Or, has someone ever discovered one day that they drifted away from the fervor of the practice of prayer they once had?

If you answered, “yes” to any one or more of these questions, you are in good company. All of us experience difficulties in prayer. In yesterday’s fifth novena meditation, we read one of St. Teresa’s accounts where she experienced difficulties in prayer; she was going through a moment of tribulation and the practice of prayer that usually brought her encouragement and comfort simply didn’t work.

Growing in friendship with God is a lifelong journey along the way of perfection. There will be many moments when we will stumble and fall. Ask any old friend of God and they will testify to this age-old fact of the spiritual life. The most important lesson that those who travel the way of perfection (or the Little Way of St. Thérèse) must learn is that it’s not a matter of how frequently or infrequently we fall, it’s how quickly we get up again and keep moving along the way. Saint Teresa herself says in the Interior Castle’s Second Mansion (IC II), “if you should at times fall don’t become discouraged and stop striving to advance. For even from this fall God will draw out good.” (IC II:9)

“Don’t become discouraged” is advice we read and hear often in Carmelite spirituality. Here’s what St. Elizabeth of the Trinity said to her younger sister a few months before Elizabeth died:

Darling little sister, you must cross out the word “discouragement” from your dictionary of love; the more you feel your weakness, your difficulty in recollecting yourself, and the more hidden the Master seems, the more you must rejoice, for then you are giving to Him, and, when one loves, isn’t it better to give than to receive? God said to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9), and the great saint understood this so well that he cried out: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). What does it matter what we feel; He, He is the Unchanging One, He who never changes: He loves you today as He loved you yesterday and will love you tomorrow. (Letter 298)

St. Teresa was more blunt when writing about those facing discouragement in prayer, especially beginners in prayer:

Ah, my Lord! Your help is necessary here; without it one can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5). In Your mercy do not consent to allow this soul to suffer deception and give up what was begun. (IC II:6)

It will seem to you that you are truly determined to undergo exterior trials, provided that God favors you interiorly. His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us. There’s no need for us to be advising Him about what He should give us, for He can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for (cf. Mt 20:22). The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer—and don’t forget this, because it’s very, very important—should be that he work and prepare himself with determination and every possible effort to bring his will into conformity with God’s will. (IC II:8)

We can have all the determination in the world to be devout, faithful, and persistent in our prayer, but our own devotion, fidelity, and persistence alone are not sufficient. We need the Lord’s guidance. Here, St. Teresa refers to acquiring spiritual directors, but her point is more valid than ever: 

Provided that we don’t give up, the Lord will guide everything for our benefit, even though we may not find someone to teach us. There is no other remedy for this evil of giving up prayer than to begin again; otherwise the soul will gradually lose more each day—and please God that it will understand this fact. (IC II:10)

“Provided that we don’t give up,” Teresa writes. “Whoever flees prayer,” St. John of the Cross echoes, “flees all that is good.”

What is this “all that is good” to which John refers?

This time, we will let him answer the question, by sharing an excerpt from his 8 July 1589 letter to Madre Leonor de San Gabriel in Córdoba. A companion of St. Teresa in founding the monasteries of Beas and Sevilla, Mother Leonor was feeling alone in Córdoba without the companionship of Teresa and the sisters she knew and loved the best. St. John of the Cross wrote a letter to encourage her in her new mission as prioress:

Jesus be in your soul, my daughter in Christ.

Thank you for your letter. And I thank God for having desired to use you in this foundation, since His Majesty has done this in order to bring you greater profit. The more he wants to give, the more he makes us desire—even to the point of leaving us empty in order to fill us with goods. You will be repaid for the goods (the love of your sisters) that you leave behind in Sevilla. Since the immense blessings of God can only enter and fit into an empty and solitary heart, the Lord wants you to be alone. For he truly loves you with the desire of being himself all your company. And Your Reverence will have to strive carefully to be content only with his companionship, so you might discover in it every happiness. Even though the soul may be in heaven, it will not be happy if it does not conform its will to this. And we will be unhappy with God, even though he is always present with us, if our heart is not alone, but attached to something else. (Letter 15)

“He loves you today as He loved you yesterday and will love you tomorrow,” St. Elizabeth wrote, echoing the sentiments of St. John of the Cross. But if God is “always present with us”, how can we become present to God, so that our hearts are alone and not “attached to something else”? 

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection tells us what he did:

Thus, after offering myself entirely to God in atonement for my sins, I renounced for the sake of his love everything other than God, and I began to live as if only he and I existed in the world. Sometimes I considered myself before him as a miserable criminal at his judge’s feet, and at other times I regarded him in my heart as my Father, as my God. I adored him there as often as I could, keeping my mind in his holy presence and recalling him as many times as I was distracted. I had some trouble doing this exercise, but continued in spite of all the difficulties I encountered, without getting disturbed or anxious when I was involuntarily distracted. I was as faithful to this practice during my activities as I was during my periods of mental prayer, for at every moment, all the time, in the most intense periods of my work I banished and rid from my mind everything that was capable of taking the thought of God away from me. (Letter 12)

 

NOVENA PRAYER

O St. John of the Cross
You were endowed by our Lord with the spirit of self-denial
and a love of the cross.
Obtain for us the grace to follow your example
that we may come to the eternal vision of the glory of God.

O Saint of Christ’s redeeming cross
the road of life is dark and long.
Teach us always to be resigned to God’s holy will
in all the circumstances of our lives
and grant us the special favor
which we now ask of you:

mention your request.

Above all, obtain for us the grace of final perseverance,
a holy and happy death and everlasting life with you
and all the saints in heaven.
Amen.

 

Arrest of John of the Cross Carmel de Pontoise Palissy POP 95W00981
The Arrest of St John of the Cross
18th c. French
Oil on canvas, 1772 or 1777
Carmel of Pontoise
© Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Diffusion RMN-GP. Used by permission.

 

 

All Scripture references in this novena are found on the Bible Gateway website, with the exception of texts drawn from the 1968 Reader’s Edition of the Jerusalem BibleSelections from the psalter appear in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The novena prayer was composed from approved sources by Professor Michael Ogunu, a member of the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in Nigeria.

All of the citations from the Sayings of Light and Love are drawn from The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Revised Edition (1991), translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K and Rodriguez, O with revisions and introductions by Kavanaugh, K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

Lawrence of the Resurrection, B 2015, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, translated from the French by Sciurba, S, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 26 October

My beloved Antoinette, I leave you my faith in the presence of God, of the God who is all Love dwelling in our souls. I confide to you: it is this intimacy with Him “within” that has been the beautiful sun illuminating my life, making it already an anticipated Heaven; it is what sustains me today in my suffering. I do not fear my weakness; that’s what gives me confidence. For the Strong One is within me and His power is almighty. It is able to do, says the Apostle, abundantly more than we can hope for!

A Dieu, my Antoinette, when I am up above, will you let me help you, scold you even, if I see you are not giving everything to the Master? because I love you! I will protect your two dear treasures and will ask that you be granted everything needed to make them two beautiful souls, daughters of love! May He keep you wholly His, wholly faithful; in Him I will always be WHOLLY YOURS.

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

Letter 333 to Antoinette de Bobet (excerpt)
End of October, 1906

 

sunset photograph
Photo by Max Ravier on Pexels.com

 

Elizabeth of the Trinity, St 2014, I have found God, Complete Works II - Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 16 September

We must continually apply ourselves so that all our actions, without exception, become a kind of brief conversation with God, not in a contrived manner but coming from the purity and simplicity of our hearts.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Spiritual Maxims, 7

 

woman sitting fallen tree trunk in front of a waterfalls
Photo by Stevanus Praska on Pexels.com

 

 

Lawrence of the Resurrection, B 2015, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, translated from the French by Sciurba, S, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 1 August

We must carefully examine which virtues are the most essential, which are the most difficult to acquire, which sins we commit most often, and which are the most frequent and inevitable of our falls.

We must have recourse to God with complete confidence at the moment of combat, remain firm in the presence of his divine majesty, adore him humbly, bring him our miseries and weaknesses, and lovingly ask for the help of his grace.

In this way, we will find every virtue in him without our having any of our own.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Practices Necessary to Attain the Spiritual Life, No. 11
The Practice of the Presence of God

 

End of the day Now I lay me - stereograph - Boston Public Library - Flickr
‘Now I lay me’ – At the End of Day
Color photomechanical print on stereo card, ca. 1850-1920
Boston Public Library / Flickr

 

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God.
(Practices Necessary to Attain the Spiritual Life, p. 39; Chapter 2)
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 19 July

We must continually apply ourselves so that all our actions, without exception, become a kind of brief conversation with God, not in a contrived manner but coming from the simplicity and purity of our hearts.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D.
Spiritual Maxims

 

Caille, Leon Emile, 1836-1907; Prayer
Prayer
Léon Émile Caille (French, 1836–1907)
Oil on panel, 1872
Manchester Art Gallery, England
This is a traditional domestic scene of a mother and daughter sitting together in a kitchen. The mother is seated at a stove with a bowl placed in her lap; she has a red-patterned shawl and plain apron around her; the child is dressed in a pinafore and kneels beside her mother, leaning on her lap in a position of prayer. The mother looks down towards her child. There is a bronze kettle at their feet and cooking equipment everywhere in the surrounding stone kitchen.

 

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God.
(Spiritual Maxims, p. 38; Chapter 2)
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Quote of the day: 29 June

Being in prayer on the feastday of the glorious St. Peter, I saw or, to put it better, I felt Christ beside me; I saw nothing with my bodily eyes or with my soul, but it seemed to me that Christ was at my sideI saw that it was He, in my opinion, who was speaking to me.

I immediately went very anxiously to my confessor to tell him. He asked me in what form I saw Him. I answered that I didn’t see Him.

He asked how I knew that it was Christ.

I answered that I didn’t know how, but that I couldn’t help knowing that He was beside me, that I saw and felt Him clearly, that my recollection of soul was greater, and that I was very continuously in the prayer of quiet, that the effects were much different from those I usually experienced, and that it was very clear.

 

Contemplation Mathieu Jarry Flickr
Contemplation | Mathieu Jarry / Flickr

 

Then the confessor asked me, “Who said it was Jesus Christ?”

“He told me many times,” I answered.

But before He told me He impressed upon my intellect that it was He, and before doing this latter He told me He was present — but I didn’t see Him.

 

Darkness olitaillon Flickr
Darkness | O.Taillon / Flickr

 

If a person whom I had never seen but only heard of should come to speak to me while I was blind or in the pitch dark and tell me who he was, I would believe it; but I wouldn’t be able to assert as strongly that it was that person as I would if I saw him.

In the case of this vision, I would; for, without being seen, it is impressed with such clear knowledge that I don’t think it can be doubted.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chapter 27

TERESA signature Blogfeatureimage
Signature of St. Teresa conserved in the general archives of the City of Burgos 

 

The Book of Her Life, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D.
ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

 

 

Marie du jour: 3 May

From the beginning of his novitiate he applied himself to the exercises of religious life with great fervor. He had singular affection for the Blessed Virgin Mary and was especially devoted to her. He had a filial trust in her protection. She was his refuge in all the problems of his life, in the troubles and anxieties that disturbed his soul, and therefore he would call her “his good mother.”

Eulogy in Praise of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, No. 17
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God

 

Holy Family_POUSSIN_DetroitInstituteofArt
The Holy Family
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594 – 1665)
Oil on canvas, 1641
Detroit Institute of Arts

 

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Edited by Conrad De Meester, OCD, Translated by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

Quote of the day: 16 April

Love is the queen and soul of all the virtues, giving them of necessity their value and worth. We must not be surprised that the virtues possessed by Brother Lawrence were perfect, because the love of God reigned so perfectly in his heart, which, as St. Bernard said, he had turned toward this divine object in all his affections. If faith enabled him to see God as sovereign truth, and if hope enabled him to contemplate God as his last end and ultimate happiness, love enabled him to recognize God as the most perfect of all beings or, more accurately, as perfection itself. Far from loving God for his own profit, his love was so disinterested that he loved God even when there was no suffering to avoid or any reward to gain, wanting only the good and glory of God and making the accomplishment of God’s holy will his paradise. We will see this again during the last moments of his illness when his spirit was so free, even until the last sigh, that he expressed the dispositions of his heart as if he were in perfect health.

Monsignor Joseph de Beaufort
Eulogy for Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God

Brother-Lawrence1
Contemporary sketch of Brother Lawrence | Photo: Carmes de Paris

Monsignor Joseph de Beaufort was a priest of the Archdiocese of Paris who knew Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. He was the confessor and counselor of Louis-Antoine de Noailles, the Archbishop of Paris; de Beaufort had served as the Vicar General with de Noailles in Châlons-sur-Marne before de Noailles was nominated to the archdiocesan see.

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Edited by Conrad De Meester, OCD, Translated by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
EDITH - You reign on the Almighty's throne transfigured
Excerpt from I Will Remain With You . . . an undated poem by St. Edith Stein; the original manuscript is preserved in the archives of the Carmel of Cologne. It is assumed that the origin of the poem was Edith’s departure from the Cologne Carmel for the Carmel of Echt, Holland, 31 December 1938. [Source: Dr. Lucy Gelber, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, p. 146]

St. Joseph Novena 2019 – Day 2

Today we continue the novena to St. Joseph. Joseph is so silent in the Gospels, so ordinary, that it took many years for the Church to give him due importance. St. Joseph is special because he reflects in a unique way the love of the Eternal Father for his only begotten Son.

Reading
Sirach 1:1-2

1 All wisdom is from the Lord,
and with him it remains forever.
2 The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,
and the days of eternity—who can count them?

Reflection

God is more present to us than we are to ourselves. How can we express the nearness of the Holy God?

Prayer

Lord God, in your loving providence you chose St. Joseph to be the spouse of your holy Mother, grant that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our holy patron, Amen.

Hymn to St. Joseph 

From David’s line came Joseph,
A just and upright man,
Engaged to Virgin Mary,
And startled by God’s plan.
An angel came and told him
What God’s love had in mind;
Obedient, he trusted,
Left all mistrust behind.

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
76 76 D
AURELIATHAXTED

Source: Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa 
Hymn used with the kind permission of the composer

Quote of the day: 10 March

Free me beggar girl
restless_mind / Flickr

You are telling me nothing new, and you are not the only one who experiences distractions. The mind is extremely flighty, but the will, mistress of all our powers, must take hold of it and bring it back to God as to its final end…

Remain before God like a poor, mute paralytic at the door of a rich man

I think the answer to our problems is to confess our faults and to humble ourselves before God. I advise you against long discourses during mental prayer, for they often foster distractions. Remain before God like a poor, mute paralytic at the door of a rich man. Strive to be attentive to God’s presence. If your mind wanders or withdraws occasionally, don’t get upset. Since these disturbances tend to distract the mind rather than focus it, we must use the will to gently collect our thoughts. If you persevere in this manner God will have mercy on you.

If your mind wanders or withdraws occasionally, don’t get upset

An easy way to keep the mind from wandering during the time of mental prayer is to keep it as still as possible—not to let it take flight—during the day. You must keep it faithfully in God’s presence; and once you are accustomed to think of him from time to time, it will be easy to remain calm during prayer, or at least to bring the mind back when it wanders…

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Letter to a nun [no date], excerpts
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God

 

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Edited by Conrad De Meester, OCD, Translated by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD 
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.

Quote of the day: 20 February

I have taken advantage of this opportunity to share with you the experience of one of our friars concerning the admirable effects and continual help he receives from the practice of the presence of God; we can both benefit from it.

He often complains of our blindness and cries out ceaselessly that we deserve sympathy for settling for so little. “God,” he says, “has infinite treasures to give us, yet we are satisfied with a bit of perceptible devotion that passes in an instant.” He complains that “we are blind since we bind God’s hands in this way and halt the abundant flow of his graces; yet when God finds a soul penetrated by an intense faith he pours out his graces in abundance. This torrent of his grace, impeded from running its ordinary course, expands impetuously and abundantly once it has found an outlet.”

Yes, sometimes we stop this torrent by our lack of appreciation for it. We must not stop it any longer, dear Mother; we must turn inward, break through the dam, let grace come forth, and make up for lost time. We have so little time left to live. Death is at our heels, so be on guard: death comes only once!

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D.
The Practice of the Presence of God, Letter 1


Father Conrad De Meester, O.C.D. who was the editor of the French critical edition of Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God notes these biographic details concerning the uncle whose own Discalced Carmelite vocation inspired Brother Lawrence to enter religious life after military service:

His uncle Jean, his mother’s brother, a native of Hériménil, Jean Majeur entered the Discalced Carmelites as a lay brother at the beginning of October 1633. He took the name “Brother Nicolas of the Conception.” He was professed in Paris on December 9, 1635, and died on February 20, 1652, in his nephew’s monastery in Paris.

 

Resurrection of the Dead BODLEIAN
Detail from Book of Hours, Use of Rome 
Folio 98/254
Meister des Gijsbrecht van Brederode [illustrator]
Netherlands, 1440 – 1460
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
See the entire folio and the complete Book of Hours here
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God
(Biographic note, p. 27; Letter 1, p. 53)
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

 

 

Quote of the day: 12 February

If he so loved God during his life, he did not love him any less at his death. He made continuous acts of love, and when a friar asked him if he loved God with all his heart, he answered, “Ah! If I thought that my heart did not love God, I would tear it out right now.”

The next day, Monday, February 12, 1691, at nine o’clock in the morning, fully conscious, without agony or convulsions, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection died in the embrace of the Lord and offered his soul to God with the peace and tranquility of one asleep.

Joseph de Beaufort’s Eulogy for Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
The Practice of the Presence of God

Brother-Lawrence1

One of the fundamental characteristics of contemplation for a Carmelite is the understanding that it is an invitation: an invitation into another’s presence. God invites a person into His presence, which is a place of intimacy, the Sacred Heart of Christ, where the person can reflect on God. Reflection, in this case, means a bending back of the heart towards God, who saves in love, and because of this reality, no one can force or bring about this invitation through his own volition. In this regard, the Carmelite notion of contemplation is a true living out of Christ’s message: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (John 15:16a).

Yet, what is a person to do with his desire to be with the Lord?

Father Nicholas Blackwell, O.Carm. explains here

ian-chen-522662-unsplash
Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplash

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 7

It is this intimacy with Him “within” that has been the beautiful sun illuminating my life… it is what sustains me today in my suffering

Intention

For the grace of a greater intimacy with Christ: it sounds like a wonderful thing, but we may think, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” [Ps 139:6] On the contrary, intimacy with Jesus is a frequent theme in the homilies of Pope Francis, who always emphasizes how close the Lord is to us and how he never leaves us:

The Lord is a friend forever. Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself…  The Lord… is always with you and he is happy to be with you. As he did with his first disciples, he looks you in the eye and he calls you to follow him, to “put out into the deep” and to “cast your nets wide” trusting in his words and using your talents in life, in union with him, without fear. Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say “yes”. 

Practicing the presence of God, St. Elizabeth grew in this friendship and intimacy with the Lord to the point that his presence became her sustenance in darkness and suffering. Like St. Paul, she desires that we might grow in this love, too, so that we may “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” [Eph 3:19]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Speaks 

“It is this intimacy with Him “within” that has been the beautiful sun illuminating my life, making it already an anticipated Heaven; it is what sustains me today in my suffering.”

Meditation 

Consider the points of suffering in your life. Jesus loves you infinitely! Are you permitting his love to sustain you in your suffering? Where are you trying to bear your burdens alone? Let him love you and uphold you.

NOVENA PRAYER

O God of bountiful mercy,
you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
the mystery of your secret presence
in the hearts of those who love you,
and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth.
Through her intercession
may we also abide in the love of Christ,
that we may see what you see
and love in the way that you love
and thus merit to be transformed
into temples of your life-giving Spirit
to the praise of your glory.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

pine cone kid
Pine cone kid | Kevin Conor Keller
Excerpt from Letter 333, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC
Homily by Pope Francis (full text), Jubilee for Boys and Girls, 24 April 2016

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Novena – Day 6

I leave you my faith in the presence of God, of the God who is all Love dwelling in our souls

Intention 

For an increase in faith in the presence of God dwelling within: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was a true daughter of her Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Avila. One of St. Teresa’s most famous dictums concerning prayer that has guided Carmelites through all generations is this: “Keeping Christ present is what we of ourselves can do.” This method of prayer, taught and recommended by the Discalced Carmelite friar of Paris, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, [The Practice of the Presence of God] was well known to St. Elizabeth. Perhaps she knew of St. Teresa’s method of keeping Christ present before she entered the Carmel of Dijon; certainly, she learned this method as she studied the works of St. Teresa, especially The Book of Her Life, Chapter 12, where the Saint explains the beginning stage of prayer. For St. Elizabeth, this practice of the presence of God is the springboard in prayer by which she dives deep into the abyss of mercy, the indwelling presence of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St. Elizabeth experienced the abiding presence of God; by faith, she knew the truth of St. Paul’s promise to the Romans: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” [Rom 5:5]

Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Speaks

“I leave you my faith in the presence of God, of the God who is all Love dwelling in our souls.”

Meditation

Just for today, practice being aware of the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you to be mindful of God’s presence.

NOVENA PRAYER

O God of bountiful mercy,
you revealed to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
the mystery of your secret presence
in the hearts of those who love you,
and you chose her to adore you in spirit and in truth.
Through her intercession
may we also abide in the love of Christ,
that we may see what you see
and love in the way that you love
and thus merit to be transformed
into temples of your life-giving Spirit
to the praise of your glory.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Berber elder and child
Berber elder and child | Tribes of the World
Excerpt from Letter 333, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel 
Copyright © 2003 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.
Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Day 5

Scripture – Psalm 16:7-11

I praise the Lord, because he guides me,
   and in the night my conscience warns me.
I am always aware of the Lord’s presence;
   he is near, and nothing can shake me.

And so I am thankful and glad,
   and I feel completely secure,
because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
   and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.

You will show me the path that leads to life;
   your presence fills me with joy
   and brings me pleasure forever.

Reading – Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, O.C.D., Spiritual Maxims on the Presence of God

The [practice of the] presence of God is an application of our mind to God, or a remembrance of God present, that can be brought about by either the imagination or the understanding.

I know someone who, for forty years, has been practicing an intellectual presence of God to which he gives several other names. Sometimes he calls it a “simple act,” a “clear and distinct knowledge of God,” an “indistinct view,” or a “general and loving awareness of God.” Other times he names it “attention to God” “silent conversation with God,” “trust in God,” or “the soul’s life and peace.” This person told me that all these forms of God’s presence are nothing but synonyms for the same thing, and that it is at present second nature to him. Here is how:

This person says that the habit is formed by the repetition of acts and by frequently bringing the mind back into God’s presence. He says that as soon as he is free from his occupations, and often even when he is most taken up by them, the recesses of his mind [esprit] or the innermost depths of his soul are raised with no effort on his part and remain suspended and fixed in God, above all things, as in its center and resting place. Since he is generally aware that his mind, thus held in suspension, is accompanied by faith, he is satisfied. This is what he calls “actual presence of God,” which includes all the other types of presence and much more besides, so that he now lives as if only he and God were in the world. He converses with God everywhere, asks him for what he needs, and rejoices continuously with him in countless ways.

It is important, however, to realize that this conversation with God takes place in the depths and center of the soul. It is there that the soul speaks to God heart to heart, and always in a deep and profound peace that the soul enjoys in God. Everything that takes place outside the soul means no more to it than a lit straw that goes out as soon as it is ignited, and almost never, or very rarely, disturbs its inner peace.

Novena Prayer

O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.

Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!

Excerpt from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God 
Copyright © 1994, 2015 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc. 
 Published by ICS Publications, Washington DC

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑