Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Best Book I Ever Read


She was a born-again Jewish divorced librarian who thought Catholics weren’t saved. Her name was Avi, and we worked together for four years at a Catholic high school in the Caribbean. Last I heard she was hiding in the mountains of Morocco where she worked as an undercover missionary, distributing bibles to Muslims. The fact that Avi loved Brother Lawrence, in spite of the fact that she would rather burn anything Catholic, is a testament to Brother Lawrence.

I can’t quite explain what affect THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD: Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence has on me other than to say that all the noise of my life disappears the minute I open the cover to any page and read any sentence.

Who is Brother Lawrence? He was born Nicholas Herman in 1611 to humble French parents. The foreword to the present volume tells us that “He served first as a soldier, then as a footman in a great French family, where he annoyed his masters by breaking everything. At the age of fifty-five he entered the Carmelite Order in Paris as a lay brother, became a cook, and adopted the name of Brother Lawrence.”

Another note remarks that he lived in an “irreligious age”, and amongst “a skeptical people”. But basically that’s the end of the story…except that he left fifteen short letters and a brief record of conversations which for 400 years have continued to appear in print and move the most tired and hardened hearts with the simplest expressions of love and gratitude for God.

St. Teresa of Avila once remarked that God was “in the pots and pans”. For Brother Lawrence there was no distinction between “the time of business” and “the time of prayer”. God was in every moment and everything.

For most of us who live the “terribly busy life”, perhaps the words of Brother Lawrence will help us to find God “in the pots and pans” by learning THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD. Thanks, Avi.

This article is sponsored and paid for by John Paul the Great Book and Gift Shop located at the Agana Shopping Center. THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD is currently available. (477-7647)
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