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Early in the seventeenth century, Europe was embroiled in a war of words and swords over religion, politics, and power.  Nobody had conceived yet that “freedom of religion” was a good idea.  To control land was to coerce religious conformity.  Catholics fought Protestants and Protestants fought other Protestants.

A godly French couple gave birth to a boy they named Nicholas during that era.  At the age of 18, Nicholas had a profound encounter with God.  He joined the French army and was captured by the Germans and sentenced to hang.  Somehow he established his innocence and rejoined the army until he was wounded.

Then he tried other careers, including a stint as a valet to the treasurer of France, but he considered himself a “great awkward fellow who broke everything.”  So in 1640 Nicholas joined a Paris monastery and took the name Lawrence of the Resurrection.  He was never ordained as a priest, which meant that his life of chastity and obedience was primarily consumed with menial service.  He cooked in the kitchen and worked in the sandal shop for most of the rest of his life.

We know very little about the more learned, clerical colleagues of Lawrence.  But 350 years after he lived and wrote, a book of his letters and correspondence, The Practice of the Presence of God, has left us a powerful legacy of devotional life.

Over the next few weeks in this space, I’ll share with you some of Lawrence’s reflections on what it means to experience vividly God’s presence all through the day.  I begin with his most well-known quote –

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.”

What were his secrets to practicing the presence of God?  Stay tuned.  But for now, just whisper this prayer through the day –  “Wherever my body and mind may go today, help my heart to remain in your presence.  Amen.”

3 Responses to The Presence, Part 1 »

  • sperlonga says:

    Bob, I enjoy reading your blogs. I look forward to reading what Lawrence had to say. Bring it on!
    Funny, one song in my mind all weekend: “Lord, build in me, make in me today, the pattern of your life when you were man. Beyond myself, beyond my pride, and all I hope to be, Lord, live your life in me.”
    Great prayer. Still my prayer.

  • […] feel the same way as I read Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God.  Last week I introduced his […]

  • Chorusboy says:

    ” Come Thou Fount” ” Prone to wander Lord I feel it – prone to leave the One I love…” this is a terrible truth of our human stain. Jesus and His grace is the only cure!

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