Friar Lawrence, born in 1614 in Lorraine (France), entered as a «lay brother» at the Carmelite convent in the Vaugirard St. in Paris when he was 26 years old.
In hard circumstances, he learned to «know life» and “know the world». In the «fight for life», he experienced the upheaval of a long and terrible war, the annoyance and distress of many anguishing situations, the experience of poverty and famine. He also discovered the weakness of his human nature.
But love will win. In the middle of the world and in full struggle, slowly develops in him this Christian and Carmelite soul, which opens without limits to God, to his grace, to his concrete desires. The first ten years of his religious life are a time of hardship. He remembers the sins of his youth. He even wonders if he is not damned. However, at the peak of his sufferings, he lays down an act that definitely sets him on the path of love. He decides to give himself, to surrender unconditionally to God. The result is not long in coming: I suddenly found myself changed. My soul, which until then was still troubled, felt in a deep inner peace, as if it were in its center and in a place of rest.
Live in the presence of God
Lawrence had discovered that union with God was achieved through a continual exercise of love, doing everything for the love of God. He explains how he did it concretely: before starting a job, he took care to look at God; during this work, he renewed this look “from time to time”; and he always ended there.
The example of Lawrence shows us that the mystical life is accessible to the laity in their everyday life: to live, work, love can be lived as an expansion of the life of God in us. What is apparently small and banal can become the material of a fascinating adventure of love, where everything is big and beautiful and belongs to the world of the Beloved (Christ).
The man and the guide
To know Friar Lawrence, nothing is better than to read his «Spiritual Maxims» and his «Letters». He said, «We can do our hearts an oratory in which we retire to talk to Him in submission, humility and love. Everyone can have these familiar conversations with God, some more, others less; He knows what we are capable of. So let us start. Maybe He is just waiting for a good resolution from us. (… / …) So gradually get used to worshiping Him, asking for His grace, offering your heart from time to time in the middle of your occupations and even at any time, if you can.
Do not always scrupulously respect certain rules or particular forms of devotion; but live in trust in God and act with love and humility. You can count on my poor prayers, and be assured that I am your servant in our Lord» (6th letter).
Friar Lawrence occupies a privileged place in the hearts of many seekers of God around the world, including our Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox brethren. Many Christians love him, listen to him and venerate him as a luminous guide and genuine saint. Through his life in the Sun of God and his radiant witness, Friar Lawrence of the Resurrection, true son of Carmel, continues today his beneficent action. It leads to God, present in all life, by the simplicity of love.
Fr Saverio Cannistrà, Superior General