Lent 2021 : learn to live your daily lives in his presence! Walk with Brother Lawrence along seven steps until Easter. The Carmelite friars guide you daily. Let yourselves be shaped by God!
Biographical sketch of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (1614-1691)
Brother Lawrence (baptismal name, Nicolas Herman) was born in 1614 in Lorraine in a deeply Christian family. At the age of 18, he underwent a decisive spiritual experience described below. At that time, he chose a military career alongside the Duke of Lorraine, but two close brushes with death and an injury forced him to leave his military career when he was 21 years old. During a period of convalescence, he decided to consecrate his life to God; he became a hermit but he did not find the peace that he desired.
So, Nicolas left for Paris where he became a footman in the household of a councilor of King Louis XIII. At age 26, he decided to enter the Discalced Carmelites in Paris on the Rue de Vaugirard as a lay brother. He received the name of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. For 15 years, he was the community's cook and then the sandal-maker. His first ten years of religious life were filled with spiritual darkness, coupled with a keen sense of his sins. But, he abandoned himself to the Lord and made a concerted effort to live simply under the gaze of God in all things and in every moment of the day. Thus, he found peace. It was then that Brother Lawrence really began to shine: he received many visits, as for example that of Fénelon. [Fénelon was the Archbishop of Cambrai who, during the Fénélon-Bossuet Quietist controversy, frequently quoted Brother Lawrence] Brother Lawrence thus spent his life in a very simple relationship with God, whom he joined February 12, 1691 at 77 years of age.
A biography written by one of his friends quickly made him known through his message of the practice of the presence of God. This teaching spread very widely, even beyond Catholicism, especially in English-speaking settings where Brother Lawrence's fame endures.
The retreat program
We propose to walk with you, the Lord, and Brother Lawrence along seven steps until Easter Sunday. This will be a way to let ourselves be shaped by the Word of God and to learn to live our daily lives in his presence:
Week 1: Let yourself be shaped
Week 2: Stripping away our image of God
Week 3: When Jesus shakes us up...
Week 4: To give up our ungratefulness
Week 5: To desire to see Jesus
Holy Week: Letting go
Easter: "Jesus himself drew near"
- A passage from the Sunday Mass readings with a meditation;
- Texts from Brother Lawrence to help you discover his teaching;
- Suggestions for meditation and resolutions to live each day along with quotes from scripture and Brother Lawrence, in images.
So, best wishes and prayers for a good Lent… a good season of rebirth. The Church invites us. God is waiting for us. The world needs joyful witnesses to the Good News who cast out from their presence any sour-faced Lenten appearance! May your journey toward Easter be a good one - Fr. Didier-Joseph Caullery, ocd (Convent of Avon)
The translation from French was done by Carmelites Brothers from Canada.