Monday, 4 November 2019

Christian Mysticism: The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (c. 1614 – 12 February 1691) served as a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris. Christians commonly remember him for the intimacy he expressed concerning his relationship to God as recorded in a book compiled after his death, the classic Christian text, The Practice of the Presence of God.

The passage below explains a simple philosophy of life, a kind of mysticism of daily life, quite similar in spirit to the type of yoga practice explained in the Bhagavad Gita:

8. 8. Meditating with the mind engaged in the Yoga of constant practice, not passing over to any thing else, one goes to the Supreme Purusha, the Resplendent, O son of Pritha. 
Practice consists in the repetition of one and the same idea, uninterrupted by any other thought, with reference to Me, the sole object of your thought. Such a practice is itself said to be Yoga. With the mind thus solely engaged in Yoga, not passing over to any other object, the Yogin who meditates according to the teaching of the scripture and of the teacher—of the sastra and acharya—reaches the Purusha, the Transcendental Being in the Solar Orb (Sankaracharya. Sastry, Alladi Mahadeva. Transl. Bhagavad Gita with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya. Madras. Samata Books. 1897/1979).

The Means of Acquiring God’s Presence 

1.The first means of acquiring the presence of God is  a new life, received by salvation through the blood  of Christ.

2.The second is faithfully practicing God’s presence.  This must always be done gently, humbly, and lovingly,  without giving way to anxiety or problems.

3.Next, the soul’s eyes must be kept on God, particularly when something is being done in the outside world.  Since much time and effort are needed to perfect this practice, one should not be discouraged by failure.  Although the habit is difficult to form, it is a source of divine pleasure once it is learned. It is proper that the heart—which is the first to live and which dominates all the other parts of the body— should be the first and the last to love God. The heart is the beginning and the end of all our spiritual and bodily actions and, generally speaking, of everything we do in our lives. It is, therefore, the heart whose attention we must carefully focus on God. 

4.Then, in the beginning of this practice, it would not be wrong to offer short phrases that are inspired by love,  such as “Lord, I am all Yours,” “God of love, I love You  with all my heart,” or “Lord, use me according to Your  will.” However, remember to keep the mind from wandering or returning to the world. Hold your attention on God alone by exercising your will to remain in His  presence. 

5.Finally, although this exercise may be difficult at first  to maintain, it has marvelous effects on the soul when  it is faithfully practiced. It draws the graces of the Lord down in abundance and shows the soul how to see God’s presence everywhere with a pure and loving vision, which is the holiest, firmest, easiest, and the most  effective attitude for prayer.  (Spiritual Maxims of Brother Lawrence)

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