"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Brother Lawrence's First Letter on Practicing God's Presence

      Brother Lawrence wrote many of his letters to two women who may have been friends or relatives from his native village. One was a Carmelite sister, and the other was attached to another local convent. This first letter likely went to the Prioress of one of these convents. With a sense of extreme meekness, he was so concerned with his anonymity that he threatened to quit corresponding if the Prioress shared the letters with anyone.
      He first sought spiritual knowledge from the many books that were available on the subject--even without a local Christian Book Store. Wisely thinking such a font of information might confuse, rather than enlighten him, he abandoned the books for a simple resolve to become wholly God's, to "give the all for the All." His method? To renounce all that was not God, and to live as if he and God were alone in the world.
      Every task he undertook focused first on God, then on the work. In fact, he consciously kept his mind on His holy presence no matter what he was doing, and as soon as he realized it wandered, he dragged his thoughts back to God. He wrote, "I drove from my mind everything that interrupted my thoughts of God."
      Was that discipline difficult? "I found no small pain in this exercise. Yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred." What seems to have been a rigid discipline, he applied gently, not troubling himself when his mind wandered. Perhaps that is because he depended solely on God's mercy and goodness for the strength to continue.
      With consistency over time, these acts of discipline become habitual, and "the presence of God becomes quite natural to us." And residing in God's presence prevents our offending Him, while creating within us a holy freedom, "and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, where, when we ask, He supplies the graces we need."
      He appropriately ended this first letter with this benediction: May all things praise Him. Amen.

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