Friday, September 19, 2014


Nicholas Herman
feast day :February 12
 Born in Lorraine, France,1610;
Died in 1691.

                Brother Lawrence was born Nicholas Herman around 1610 in Herimenil, Lorraine, a Duchy of France. His birth records were destroyed in a fire at his parish church during the Thirty Years War, a war in which he fought as a young soldier. It was also the war in which he sustained a near fatal injury to his sciatic nerve. The injury left him quite crippled and in chronic pain for the rest of his life. He was educated both at home and by his parish priest whose first name was Lawrence and who was greatly admired by the young Nicholas.

Nicholas Herman as Brother Lawrence, Nicholas was a contemporary of Pascal, though, unlike him, a simple and ignorant man, reared in a peasant's cottage. He enlisted as a soldier and narrowly escaped being shot as a spy. He was wounded and remained lame for life. He then found employment as a footman, but was so clumsy that he was always breaking things. Later he became a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris, where he worked in the kitchen.

 He had been converted at he age of 18. Like Jeremiah he had see a tree in winter stripped bare yet with signs of the promise of spring, and from that moment he loved and served God with a simple and unquestioning faith. His book Practice of the Presence of God is the story of his heart, and is a lively devotional classic, in which he sets down the intimate details of his daily drudgery and is never afraid to laugh at himself. When sent to Burgundy to buy wine for the monastery with but little idea how to set about it, having no head for business, and being so lame that he had to roll himself over the casks, he had no worry, he tells us, but left himself in God's hands. It was God's business and God would see it done. And the business, he adds, went through well.

 In the kitchen also, where he was set to work, 'having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of God and with prayer upon all occasions for His grace to do His work well, he had found everything easy, during 15 years he had been employed there.' The times of prayer, he declared, should be no different from other times, and he found himself more united to God in his outward employments than when he retired to pray.

 Of all the stories of the saints, few are more remarkable than that of this simple man, this big, clumsy ex-serviceman with his lame foot and awkward movements, hobbling round the kitchen, disliking his work but full of gentleness and good humor, laughing at mishaps, content to serve God in a humble way. And when after many years he was too old for the kitchen, he continued, until his death at 82, to potter around and make himself useful.

 "Lift up your heart to God," he said, "sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company. . . . It is not necessary for being with God to be always at church: we may make an oratory of our hearts."

 To a soldier on active service he wrote: "A little lifting up of the heart suffices: a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, though upon a march and sword in hand, are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to God." "The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament" Gill.

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