Written in the second half of the 17th century by a French Carmelite lay brother, The Practice of the Presence of God is divided into three sections: Section One, comprising accounts of four personal conversations; Section Two, comprising 16 letters to various individuals; and Section Three, comprising six “maxims”, or brief reflections.
To begin, I plan on commenting upon each of the conversations individually. I may group together several letters or several maxims when I reach those sections. We’ll see what works best.
You can find a link to a translation of the complete original text here.
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The Practice of the Presence of God
(Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, d. 1691)
Second Conversation, 1666
Lex suprema amor: Love is the inspiration, path, and goal of our spiritual endeavor.
As most of us cannot fully and perfectly love all beings, we do well to love those who are closest to us: ourselves and our family.
This practice (love of self and family) is more important and useful than imitation of those the world regards as virtuous, holy, wise, etc.
Let others worry about reward and punishment, heaven and hell, and the like, for our endeavor is too important, difficult, necessary, and universal for such considerations.
Let us commit ourselves completely and with[out] hesitation to whatever part we might have in our common endeavor, even if it entails the loss of whatever it is that we most cherish or hope for.
The One who set us upon our path is the Silent One: as few of us can penetrate the silence, we must content ourselves with words.
As the Psalmist tell us: Those the world regards as little are not lesser beings than those than those the world regards as great.
We do well to remember that few of us will see the good fruit of our shared mission.
That which we have received [from those who came before], we must hand on [to those who are yet to come].
Bonum est diffusivum sui: A single tree possesses power sufficient to sanctify an entire grove.
December 18, 2016