The Practice of the Presence of God Brother Lawrence (of the Resurrection) IV

VII. Thesis Statement from the introduction by Hannah Whitall Smith, “His (Bro. Lawrence) one single aim was to bring about a conscious personal union between himself and God and he took the shortest cut he could find to accomplish it.”[1] (not quietism devoid of personal act)

The result can be described in his own words: “If I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there.”[2]

Note the direct correlation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Margaret Mary Alacoque SHJ (1647-1690) mystic

Fr. Sciurba will express Brother Lawrence’s simple life as, “Centered on the Presence of God, infinitely admired, faithfully sought after, and sweetly experienced.”[3]

VII. Ecclesiastical Approbation Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, compiled this work after Brother Lawrence died. However, not declared a saint, nor a priest, and I couldn’t find a nihl obstat or imprimatur. I did find however ecclesiastical and royal support.[4]

I think this is large part to the issue of Quietism and the aspersions made that Bro Lawrence’s ideas supported this heresy.

Negation of the will, In a narrower sense Quietism designates the mystical element in the teaching of various sects which have sprung up within the Church, only to be cast out as heretical. In some of these the Quietistic teaching has been the conspicuous error, in others it has been a mere corollary of more fundamental erroneous doctrine. Quietism finally, in the strictest acceptation of the term, is the doctrine put forth and defended in the seventeenth century by Molinos and Petrucci. Out of their teaching developed the less radical form known as Semiquietism, whose principle advocates were Fénelon and Madame Guyon. All these varieties of Quietism insist with more or less emphasis on interior passivity as the essential condition of perfection; and all have been proscribed in very explicit terms by the Church.

Some might see signs of New Age or Buddhism within Brother’s ideas. Therefore, it is imperative to have a spiritual sense of the man as well as the person or audience to whom he is addressing to get his true intentions. The Critical edition allows for these considerations.

One never becomes less, always the agent. God gives multiple choices. Quietism become a non-actor in own life.

Suppression in France leads to explosion outwards to Europe.

Desperate need for authentic Catholic teaching outside of France.

Shallow piety without full context of Bro Lawrence’s spirituality. Don’t get to marrow, just shavings of meat.

[1] The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of a Holy Life, Brother Lawrence 1895 (Martino Publishing: Mansfield CT 2010) iii

[2] Martino iii

[3] Sciurba xxiii

[4] Sciuribi 160-161