Nicholas Herman of Lorraine (1614-1691) was a lay brother at a Paris monastery. He was converted at the age of 18 when he saw a tree in the winter stripped of its leaves and thought of how it would be renewed and spring to life again; it spoke to him of the power of God.
An uneducated man who had been a soldier and a footman (he described himself as "a great awkward fellow who broke everything"), he worked in the kitchens in the monastery. His quiet spirituality attracted people from all walks of life to talk with him and learn from him. But he might have lived and died unremembered if his letters and conversations had not been preserved, by Joseph Beaufort, Grand Vicar of the Archbishop of Paris, and written down in a book that became a classic.
Herman was better known as Brother Lawrence and his book was The Practice of the Presence of God. Here are 10 quotes from it.
1. He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think."
2. Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.
3. I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of God.
4. We should establish ourselves in a sense of God's presence, by continually conversing with Him.
5. Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave him not alone.
6. Along with this total abandonment must go a complete acceptance of God's will with equanimity and resignation. No matter what troubles and ills come our way, they are to be willingly and indeed joyously endured since they come from God, and God knows what He is doing.
7. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favourite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence.
8. We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.
9. Do not pray for relief from pain, but pray for strength to suffer with courage, humility and love.
10. We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.