from the book:
Fra Laurent de la Résurrection
THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
Editrice Àncora – Milan
The most holy and most necessary practice in spiritual life is the presence of God, which consists in enjoying and getting used to his divine companionship, speaking humbly and lovingly entertaining with him, at all times, at all times, without rule, without measure; especially in time of temptations, sufferings, aridities, disgusts and even infidelities and sins.
We must continually strive to ensure that all our actions are a way of entertaining a little with God, but without affectation, but as they come from the purity and simplicity of the heart. We must do all our actions with weight and measure, without impetuousness and haste, which distinguish a diverted spirit. We must work softly and lovingly with God, pray to him to like our work, and through this continuous attention to God, we will smash the devil’s head, and drop his weapons of hand. During our work and other actions, even during our readings, although spiritual, during our outward devotions and vocal prayers, we must cease for a small moment, as often as we can, to worship God in the bottom of our hearts, rejoicing in escape, praise him, ask for his help, offer him our heart and thank him.
That there can be more pleasing to God than leaving so many times a day all creatures to retreat and worship him inwardly? We cannot give God more witness to our fidelity than by renouncing and despising the creature a thousand times in order to rejoice in one moment of the Creator. This exercise gradually destroys self-love that can exist only among creatures, and of which the frequent calls to God get rid of us without us noticing. Such a presence of God is the life and food of the soul. And it can be acquired by the grace of the Lord; here are the means: a great purity of life, carefully ensuring that we do not do, say or think anything that can displrespect God; and when something like this has happened, humbly ask him for forgiveness and do penance; great fidelity in the practice of this presence and in the inner gaze of God himself, which must always be done softly, with humility and with love, without letting go of any disturbance.
Special efforts must be made to ensure that this inner gaze awaits your external actions for a few moments, that you accompany them from time to time and that you end them all in this way. We must not be disturbed when we forget this holy practice: it is enough to resume it with peace of mind when the habit has been formed: everything will be done with pleasure. It could not be achieved only through the mortification of the senses, since it is impossible that a soul that still pleases itself a little in the creature can rejoice entirely in this divine presence. Because to be with God you absolutely have to leave the creature. God wants to possess our mourning heart alone; if we don’t empty him of anything other than him, he can’t act and do what he wants. He often lagnaes about our blindness; cries nonstop that we are worthy of compassion to settle for so little. I have, he says, infinite treasures to give you, and a little sensitive devotion that passes in a moment satisfies you. In doing so, we tie God’s hands, and stop the abundance of his graces. It will then be useful, in order to progress in the practice of God’s presence, to get rid of all concern, even of a number of particular devotions, although excellent, but which are often taken care of out of turn, because at the end of the day such devotions are only means to an end. If, therefore, through this exercise of God’s presence, we are with the one who is our end, it is useless that we return to the means; but we can continue with him our exchange of love, remaining in his holy presence, and through an act of adoration, and through a limb of offering or actions of grace, and in all the ways that our spirit will invent.
It is not necessary to always be in church to be with God. We can make our hearts an oratory, in which we will withse from time to time to talk to him. Everyone is capable of these familiar conversations with God; a small elevation of the heart is enough, he writes between Laurent, advising this exercise to a gentleman: a little thought of God, an inner adoration, albeit in a hurry, and the sword in hand. These are prayers which, however brief as they may be, are very pleasing to God, and which, far from losing courage, in the most dangerous circumstances, strengthen it. So remember as much as possible; this way of praying is truly appropriate and much necessary for a soldier, exposed every day to the dangers of his life and often of his salvation. This exercise in God’s presence is of great use to pray well; because by preventing the spirit from taking flight during the day, and keeping it exactly with God, it will be easier to remain quiet during prayer. All life is full of dangers and rocks, it is impossible to avoid them without the continuous help of God; but how to ask him without being with him? How to be with him, if not thinking about it often? How can we think about it often if not thanks to the holy habit of being in his presence, to ask him the graces we need at all times?
Nothing can comfort us as much in the sufferings and sorrows of life as this family dialogue with God. If it is faithfully put into practice, all diseases of the body will be soavi for us. God often allows us to suffer to purify our soul and to keep us with him. How can a person who is with God and who is not empty than him suffer? It is therefore necessary to worship him in our infirmities, to offer him from time to time our sorrows, to ask him with love, as a child to his father to conform to his holy will and to obtain the help of his grace These short prayers are very appropriate for the sick, and they are an excellent calming of pain. It is a paradise to suffer and to be with God. For this reason we must get used in sorrows to a family dialogue with God and prevent our spirit from moving away from it, we must watch over us relentlessly, so as not to do, say or think anything in the disease on the pretext of comfort, which may displreasure him. When we are so taken by God, the sufferings for us will be only sweetness, balms and consolation.
The world does not understand these truths, and I am not surprised, because it sees diseases as the penises of nature and not as god’s graces. Those who consider them coming from the hand of God, effects of his mercy and the means he uses to save color to which he sends them, usually enjoy great consolation.