Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brother Lawrence

One of the books mentioned in yesterday's post was the Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.  I read the book at the gym....in about two sessions.  It is not a long book but it is written in a rather odd way.  It is not a first person account. This work was compiled after Brother Lawrence died by one of those whom he inspired, Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris. It is full of he said, he did, he reasoned, he related etc. etc. 

A few snippets about Brother Lawrence's life from the Practicing the Presence of God web site.

Brother Lawrence was born Nicholas Herman around 1610 in Herimenil, Lorraine, a Duchy of France. His birth records were destroyed in a fire at his parish church during the Thirty Years War, a war in which he fought as a young soldier. It was also the war in which he sustained a near fatal injury to his sciatic nerve. The injury left him quite crippled and in chronic pain for the rest of his life.

Ouch...ouch...ouch!!!!  I had a bit of trouble with my sciatic nerve when I was pregnant with my near term first born son, Matthew.  He was a big baby..and rested his head squarely on my sciatic nerve...and sent me to bed with a heating pad for several days.  I also came down with a good old fashioned case of emerods...but we won't go into that in this post. (However, if you want to read a hilarious rendition of the biblical affliction of emerods check out this link)

So pretty much, for sure, Brother Lawrence was in a lot of pain...and there were no extra strength Tylenol back then...or Aleve for 8 hours of relief.  No...he pretty much just had to endure it.  And from what I read, he hated to cook...but his duties were usually in the kitchen....cooking.  In the words of Brother Lawrence:

We ought to give ourselves up to God, both in temporal and spiritual things, and seek our satisfaction only in fulfilling His will. Whether He leads us by suffering or consolation, all is the same to one truly resigned.


"The time of work," said he, "does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper."

So neither his pain...nor his duties....dampened his enthusiasm for communing with God.  Nor did it make him bitter or resentful or grouchy.  His life was filled with the joy of the Lord.  He epitomized the verse in Psalms

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. 16:11

Another bit of advice from Brother Lawrence?

We should, once and for all, heartily put our whole trust in God and make a total surrender of ourselves, secure that He will not deceive us.

At the Practicing the Presence of God web site, the book is available to print or read online.  There is also a page of devotionals based on the book and the Godly wisdom of Brother Lawrence. 

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