Sunday, March 18, 2007

Practice of God's Presence: 14th letter

Fourteenth Letter: I give thanks to our Lord for having relieved you a little as you desired. I have often been near death and I was never so satisfied as then. At those times I did not pray for any relief, but I prayed for strength to suffer with courage, humility, and love. How sweet it is to suffer with God! However great your sufferings may be, receive them with love. It is paradise to suffer and be with Him. If, in this life, we might enjoy the peace of paradise, we must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, and affectionate conversation with God.

We must hinder our spirits' wandering from Him on all occasions. We must make our heart a spiritual temple so we can constantly adore Him. We must continually watch over ourselves so we do not do anything that may displease Him. When our minds and hearts are filled with God, suffering becomes full of unction and consolation.

I well know that to arrive at this state, the beginning is very difficult because we must act purely on faith. But, though it is difficult, we know also that we can do all things with the grace of God. He never refuses those who ask earnestly. Knock. Persevere in knocking. I answer for it, that, in His due time, He will open His grace to you. He will grant, all at once, what He has deferred during many years.

Pray to Him for me, as I pray to Him for you. I hope to see Him soon.


It's an interesting segue that Br. Lawrence makes from his first to his second paragraph. In the first, he talks about rejoicing specifically in the midst of suffering. In the second, he shifts his focus from the specific to the general principle of focusing our gaze on God at all times. He has given specific advice about how to do this in previous letters.

The reference to making our hearts a spiritual temple reminds me of a couple of places in Paul. In Corinthians, Paul tells us that we are "temples of the Holy Spirit" and in Romans we are to present our bodies as "acceptable sacrifices".

"Watching over ourselves so that we do not displease Him" reminds me of Philippians where Paul advises us to concentrate only on that which is noble, good and worthy.

How does reading the Practice of God's Presence help you to read Scripture? Of which Biblical texts has Br. Lawrence reminded you?

The next paragraph also reminds me of many places in the New Testament. It's as is Br. Lawrence not only reads Scripture, he also inhales and exhales it. His very thought processes show us how Scripture has infused his being, become part of his personality.

How do you think this came about? Would you like the Bible to be that intimate a part of you? What would you have to do so this could happen?

Are you willing to do it? If your answer is no, why not? What do you consider more valuable and why? Will you at least pray to the Lord about this?

Tomorrow we read the 15th Letter and so will conclude our study of the practice of God's Presence. Reading the text and allowing it to form questions has been a source of much joy for me. So much so, that i have decided to continue with another text:

The Lord is my Shepherd by Harold S. Kushner, Anchor Books 2003. Availablke from Amazon for $9.56 plus shipping. According to them if ordered to today, the book will arrive Tuesday.


Post a Comment

<< Home