Friday, March 16, 2007

Practice of God's Presence: 12th letter

Twelfth Letter: If we were well accustomed to the practice of the presence of God, bodily discomforts would be greatly alleviated. God often permits us to suffer a little to purify our soul and oblige us to stay close to Him.

Take courage. Offer Him your pains and pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get in the habit of often thinking of God, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities. Offer yourself to Him from time to time. In the height of your sufferings, humbly and affectionately beseech Him, as a child to his father, to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavor to assist you with my poor prayers.

God has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes seems to hide Himself from us. But faith alone ought to be our support. Faith is the foundation of our confidence. We must put all our faith in God. He will not fail us in time of need. I do not know how God will dispose of me, but I am always happy. All the world suffers and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and great that I can scarcely contain them. I would willingly ask God for a part of your sufferings.

I know my weakness is so great that, if He left me one moment to myself, I would be the most wretched man alive. Yet, I do not know how He could leave me alone because faith gives me as strong a conviction as reason. He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us always be with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do pray for me, as I pray for you.


I find this letter so beautiful, it's difficult for me to form questions because everything in me just shouts "yes, yes, yes!"

We live in a world where much value is placed on the cognitive, the rational, the intellectual. Br. Lawrence invites us to something different: a place of rest, a place of simply being with God.

How many times have you allowed anything you suffered to drive a wedge between you and God? Instead of using the suffering as an opportunity to come closer to Him? How does this monk tell us to use suffering as away to come closer to God?

What is the role of faith?

Faith gives Br Lawrence a conviction as strong as reason. Is your faith like that? If your answer is no, would you like faith like that? Have these letters offered you any guidance about how to have faith like that? Would you agree that faith is both a choice we can make and a gift? And that certain actions of ours may support or deny our choice?

Critics of Christianity have called it a religion of do's and don'ts. When such has been said to me, i have said that Christianity is about a relationship of love between God and people. When 2 people love each other, there are certain choices they can make, certain actions they can do or not do that will increase or decrease the love between them.

Faith is like that, I am convinced. Having made the choice to have faith, having asked for the gift, faith then needs to be nurtured. Certain choices, certain actions, certain thought patterns will increase or decrease faith.

Have you asked for the gift of faith? Have you prayed to God to continue you in faith? Which actions or choices increase or decrease your faith? How can you eliminate those that decrease it?


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