Nicholas Herman was born into a peasant’s family in France circa 1612. He went through the Thirty-Years War (1618 – 1648) that took about eight million lives, and spent the rest of his life (he died in 1691) in a Carmelite monastery as a lay brother, where he was known under his religious name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. His “official” position at the monastery was rather lowly – a cook and a sandal maker.
As his contemporaries say, Brother Lawrence “forgot himself and was willing to lose himself for God.” He found his spiritual fulfillment in the solitude of a hermit’s life. Being actually illiterate, he, nevertheless, powerfully influenced the minds and spirits of those with whom he talked – by passing godly wisdom on to them. After his death, the Abbe Joseph de Beaufort collected Brother Lawrence’s views in a book “The Practice of the Presence of God” – a thin volume containing 16 letters, Spiritual Maxims, four Conversations and a brief description of Brother Lawrence’s life. Until nowadays, the book is popular both among Catholics and Protestants.
Here are a few quotes from the book which I find specially uplifting:
“Many things are possible for the person who has hope. Even more is possible for the person who has faith. And still more is possible for the person who knows how to love. But everything is possible for the person who practices all three virtues.”
“A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God.”
“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.”
“You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we think.”
“The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”
“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
“I drove away from my mind everything capable of spoiling the sense of the presence of God…. I just make it my business to persevere in His holy presence… My soul has had an habitual, silent, secret conversation with God.”