“By this short and sure means I advanced in the knowledge of God with whom I resolved to remain forever.”
A prime example of living the grace of the present moment was Carmelite Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. This 17th-century soldier turned sandal-maker started religious life in the priory kitchen as a cook — a task he was not cut out for. Brother Lawrence admits:
When I began my work I said to God with filial trust: “My God, since you are with me, and since I must apply myself to these duties by your order, I beg you to give me the grace to remain with you and keep you company. Even better, my Lord, work with me, accept my efforts and take possession of all my affections.” Thus during my work I continued to speak intimately with him, offering him my services, asking him for his graces.
Brother Lawrence came to be convinced that “we do not have to be in church to be with God. We can make of our hearts an oratory where we can withdraw from time to time to converse with him, gently, humbly, and lovingly. Everyone is capable of these familiar conversations with God.” Through them, Brother Lawrence found himself growing: “By this short and sure means I advanced in the knowledge of God with whom I resolved to remain forever.”
Brother Lawrence shows us how to practice the presence of God, which he calls “the holiest, most common, most necessary practice in the spiritual life:”
The practice of the presence of God is to take delight in and become accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and talking lovingly with him at all times, at every moment, without rule or system and especially in times of temptation, suffering, spiritual aridity, disgust and even of unfaithfulness and sin. By this continual mindfulness of God we shall crush the head of the devil and cause his weapons to fall from his hands. These interior retreats to God gradually free us by destroying self love. Since you know God is with you in all your actions, that he is in the deepest recesses of your soul, why not, from time to time, leave off your external activities and even your spoken prayers to adore him inwardly, to praise him, to petition him, to offer him your heart, and to give him thanks?