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A Book Review of Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God

May 1, 2012

One of the most important Carmelite figures of the seventeenth century was Nicolas Herman, best known by his religious name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (1614-1691). This French Discalced Carmelite became famous for his mystical spirituality as reflected in his posthumous book, The Practice of the Presence of God. This book is a collection of Brother Lawrence’s writings (his Letters [chapter 3], Spiritual Maxims [chapter 2]) and Conversations (chapter4) recorded by his first biographer-editor Joseph de Beaufort. The book, which underwent several editions and appeared with different titles, was originally published in French shortly after Laurence’s death. The English critical edition of this work, which is the subject of this review, includes a short but helpful introduction to Laurence’s life and writings. The critical edition also includes the Practice of the Presence of God (chapter 5) derived from Laurence’s letters by his biographer, and two other biographical pieces: Eulogy (chapter 1) and the Ways of Brother Laurence (chapter 6).

 

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