Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Old Paths, circa 1680

I grew up in a religious tradition in which, when I had the opportunity to do the right thing, I would say, “I will obey God, as I should.” When I did the wrong thing, I would say, “Well, nobody’s perfect, and I am doing my best. I hope God will forgive me.”

Contrast this with this description of a 17th century Carmelite monk:
When an occasion of practicing some virtue offered, he addressed himself to God, saying, “Lord, I cannot do this, unless Thou enablest me,” and that then he received strength more than sufficient. That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God, I shall never do otherwise if you leave me to myself; ‘tis You must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss.” That after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.

These days, I am slowly coming closer to the latter place than the former. There's more air here. And more of the presence of God.

Oh, the quotation is from Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a Carmelite lay brother who died in 1691.

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