Friday, April 28, 2006
Joseph de Beaufort, representative and counsel to the Parisian archbishop, could not have known how his conversations with Nicholas Herman, known in the monastery as Brother Lawrence, would change his life. De Beaufort took note of Brother Lawrence's appearance with the comment that he was "rough in appearance but gentle in grace." During four conversations and numerous correspondences with the reclusive monk, de Beaufort recorded the simple practices Brother Lawrence used to cultivate God's continuous presence in his life. When Brother Lawrence first entered the monastery, he expected to sacrifice his life and pleasures to God for his shortcomings. But instead he met only satisfaction in the sacrificial, monastic life. His vow of obedience notwithstanding, Brother Lawrence found the highest joy in communing continually with and meditating on God, and though his mandatory prayers only distracted him from that sweet fellowship, he said them anyway. Faith is to bring us to a high degree of perfection by ruling all our conduct, rather than amusing our religious sense through rituals and trivial devotions. By giving ourselves up to God spiritually and temporally to satisfy His will, both suffering and consolation will be equal to us. He admitted that our prayer lives will ebb and flow as God tries our love toward Himself. Only by remaining faithful in prayer, regardless of desire, can we advance spiritually. Brother Lawrence was surprised the world's sin caused no more misery than it did. His part was to pray for sin's victims, and to trust God to heal according to His mercy. Beyond that, he refused to worry about the issue. He suggested a method for resolving our concern for the tragedies of life: He said, "We should carefully watch over all the passions that mingle in spiritual as well as temporal things. God will give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him." At this first interview's conclusion, Brother Lawrence cautioned de Beaufort not to return if his motivation was not to sincerely discuss how to serve God. Subsequent posts will deal with sixteen of his letters and visits between him and Joseph de Beaufort. I pray that through these posts I will learn how to faithfully practice God's presence. And if someone else happens by, perhaps he or she will profit as well.