Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
Embrace the presence of God
Prayer is your pathway to God
By JOSEPH HOGAN
Special to the WCR
Aremarkable book of the spiritual journey to God has enlightened generations through the years. The book is The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I use the Blaiklock translation, Hodder & Stoughton, 1985.
"The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practise of the presence of God, that is, to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin."
Take my sin to God
When praying to God in faithlessness and distress and desolation even sin, I see this as a recognition of my poverty. If there is anything that I am proud of, it is that I am a sinner. If I thought myself perfect in every way, which no one is except God, I would be in a sorry state indeed. So I praise God in my weakness as then the Almighty can save me.
Brother Lawrence goes on to exhort one to pause for a moment even in the most diverse occupations and thank and praise God from the depth of our heart. The believer wishes to enjoy a single moment with his Creator. For Brother Lawrence practice is an essential word for this entire exercise.
I might note that constant prayer and praise are a major element in the charismatic renewal. Do not let the simplicity of praise mislead you as praise and worship of God eternal is a very elevated state of prayer and comes only by the gift of grace.
This prayer and praise and worship of God become natural to our soul and heart by its frequency. Prayer becomes a supernatural habit, Brother Lawrence writes, "as if God were one with our soul and our soul one with God."
When the habit of the prayer of the presence of God is established, Brother Lawrence teaches: "As soon as (the person praying) is free from his common duties and often when he is deeply engaged in them, the sharp edge of his spirit, the loftiest part of his soul, without effort on his part, rises above all things and abides, as though stayed in God, as if in its centre and place of rest. . . . He now lives as if there were only God and he in the world. He converses everywhere with God, and asks only what he has need of and is refreshed endlessly in a thousand, thousand ways."
Meditation on the presence of God is life and nourishment to the soul. This task is not boring and yields many spiritual fruits to the soul. The magnificence and immanence of God is revealed in all its luminous grandeur.
French spirituality would call this the prayer of simple regard. The soul listens with an acuteness and awareness of the presence and then sees God, in persons, in another's eyes in the miracles of grace, in humility observed. As the author states: "The practice of God's presence . . . produces secretly in the soul wonderful effects, draws there in abundance the graces of the Lord and leads the soul imperceptibly to that simple grace, that loving vision of an ever-present God, which is the holiest, most real, easy and effective way to pray."
Hope grows as the soul sees the beauty of God, a great grace. The grace of God urges us on to share this love we have discovered with others, in vital ardour. This person has discovered the secret of the King and this secret is to be shared with others who are open to the word.
By love, the person praises and worships the Lord of Hosts in a single act of love which becomes continual in the soul.
Constant act of love
I am reminded of St. Mary Magdalene who after the Resurrection of Jesus was named Equal To The Apostles. This title was made because of her contemplative gaze on Christ which became a constant act of love which was enough to amaze all and convert sinners.
Our Lord provides for the health of the soul in presenting us all with spiritual reading books such as The Practice of The Presence of God. In the absence of a spiritual director for your soul, a good book will suffice to teach us the ways of God.
God the Father is the one who loves us with an immense love and desires dearly our heart.
Do not refuse him.
Go to him.
Reflect upon his largesse upon you and upon an endless creation. It was Catherine de Hueck Doherty who penned the phrase out of one of her early Staff Letters; in the ordinary language of one beloved of God.
"Love God madly, for there is so little time!"
(Joe Hogan is a member of Madonna House and is assigned to the Marian Centre.)
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