Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting to know Brother Lawrence

We're being introduced to a fellow who may seem strange at first glance, but whose "claim to fame" is the ordinary nature of his life and approach to faith.
Born in 1614 as Nicholas Herman, poverty forced the young man who would become "Brother Lawrence" into the army where he was promised food and a little bit of money. When an injury made it impossible for him to serve, he became a nobleman's valet. But discouraged by his life, Nicholas entered a Carmelite monastery in Paris as a lay brother. He didn't have the education needed to become a monk.
Among the brothers he became "Brother Lawrence," and was rather dismayed to be assigned to the kitchen crew, another task he felt woefully inadequate to perform. He adapted by grower ever more humble, letting go of common notions of success and putting himself utterly in the service of God and his brothers. No one was more surprised that Brother Lawrence himself when his gentle, unassuming manner began to attract admirers.
Brother Lawrence's attractive "ahah" was that growing close to GOd didn't need to be as hard as we often try to make it. "Men invent means and methods of coming to Gods love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for love of him?"
Don't be deterred by the old fashioned language of "The Practice of the Presence." If you have trouble getting started, try this reading plan:

Begin from behind. Read “Gathered Thoughts” first.

Exercise: What questions come to mind? Make a list.

Next, move on to “The Character of Brother Lawrence.”

Exercise: Write a min-biography of brother Lawrence in your own words.

Third, read the letters, one at a sitting.

Exercise: After each letter, write your own letter, to God, to Brother Lawrence, or to a trusted friend.

Finally, read “The Conversations.”

---------Read more about Brother Lawrence at:

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