The consecrated life

Daily Reading for August 19 • The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

There is a profound sense in which all of one’s life is lived out in God’s presence, and this recognition becomes a powerful tool for understanding all of one’s life as being consecrated unto God. The Carmelite lay brother Nicholas Herman (1611-91), known as “Brother Lawrence,” cultivated and practiced this sort of life, and its character has been preserved for us under the title Practice of the Presence of God (1692). Without forsaking the mysterium tremendum, Brother Lawrence advocated a style of spirituality that developed a continual sense of being in God’s presence, and the practice of returning to God’s presence through deliberate acts of prayer. He aspired to a habitual sense of God’s presence that penetrated and invigorated all of a Christian’s life. Brother Lawrence wrote: “This presence of God, if practiced faithfully, works secretly in the soul and produces marvelous effects, and leads it insensibly to the simple grace, that long sight of God every where present, which is the most holy, the most solid, the easiest, the most efficacious manner of prayer.”

From Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, edited by John R. Tyson (Oxford University Press, 1999).

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