Monday, January 23, 2006

Excerpts from "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Br Lawrence of the Resurrection

The fourth conversation. November 25, 1667
Brother Lawrence spoke to me, openly and with deep fervour, about his way of going to God of which I have already related somewhat.
He told me that it consist in one good act of renunciation of all those things which we recognize do not lead to God, so that we may accustom ourselves to a continual communion with Him; a communion devoid both of vagueness and of artifice. We need only to realize that God is close to us and to turn to Him at every moment, to ask for His help to learn His will in doubtful things, and to do gladly those which we clearly perceive He requires of us, offering them to Him before we begin, and giving Him thanks when they have been finished for His honour.
That in this uninterrupted communion we are unceasingly occupied in praising, worshipping and loving God for His infinite goodness and perfection. That we ought confidently to beseech His grace, not regarding our sins, but relying upon infinite merits of our Lord. He had sensibly experienced that God never fails to offer His grace at our every action; but we do not perceive it when our minds have wandered from God, or if we have forgotten to ask His aid. That in times of doubt God will always enlighten us, provided that we wish only to please Him and act for His love. That our sanctification does not depend upon certain works, but upon doing for God that which we ordinarily do for ourselves. It was sad to see that so many people mistake the means for the end, who for reasons of human respect attach great importance to works which they do very imperfectly. That he found the best way of reaching God was through those ordinary occupations which (so far as he was concerned) he received under obedience: doing them for the love of God and with as little regard for human respect as possible. That it was a great delusion to imagine that prayer time should be different from any other, for we are equally bound to be united to God by work at work-time as by prayer at prayer-time.
That his prayer was simply to realize the presence of God, at which time, his soul was unconscious of aught else but love; and afterwards he found scarcely any difference, for he continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might. And so, he passed his life in unbroken joy; yet hoping that God would give him, somewhat, to suffer when he should grow stronger.
That we ought once and for all to make an act of faith in God that He would not delude us, and so make a complete surrender to Him. That we ought not to get tired of doing little things for the love of God, because He looks at the love rather than the work. And we need not be surprised at our frequent failures at first; the time will come when we shall make our acts naturally and with gladness.
That in order to submit entirely to the will of God, faith, hope and charity alone are necessary. Other considerations are unimportant and only to be used as a bridge to be passed over quickly on the way to abnegation, by confidence and love, in the Origin of all things. That all things are possible to him that believes, less difficult to him that hopes, still less difficult to him that loves, and easiest of all to him that persevers in all three virtues. That the end we ought to purpose to ourselves in this life is to become as good worshippers of God as we possibly can, as we hope to be His perfect worshippers for all eternity. That when we enter upon the spiritual life we ought to consider in detail what manner of folk we are. We shall then find ourselves worthy of contempt, unworthy of the name of Christ: subject to all sort of distress, and the numberless mischances which upset us and makes us unreliable in our health, our temper and our disposition, whether internal, or public-in fact, people whom God must humiliate by pain and trials both within and without. Is it then to be wondered at that we experience crosses, temptation, contradictions, at the hands of our fellow men? Ought we not rather to submit to them, bearing them so long as God may please, as things which are really to our advantage? The greater the perfection to which a soul aspires, the more dependent it is upon divine grace.