Contemplative Profiles: Brother Lawrence

We best know Brother Lawrence as an unassuming monk who worked hard in a monastery kitchen doing menial chores. It was hardly a step up from his previous occupation in the army, which he only joined because he had grown up in poverty. While serving as a soldier he had a spiritual experience that eventually sent him to a monastery.

Lawrence spent his days contemplating the love of God while washing pots and pan, running errands, and cleaning the kitchen. I have personally benefitted from his writings since I’m the person who washes the dishes in our home, but his example of inviting God to join him in the simplest of tasks is a powerful reminder of how to practice God’s presence today.

This profile in Christian History includes the following quotes from Brother Lawrence:

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Lawrence writes, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”

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“We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king.”

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“As often as I could, I placed myself as a worshiper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him. This proved to be an exercise frequently painful, yet I persisted through all difficulties.”

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