In the middle of January, 2013 I had to go to Ardrossan in Scotland to preach at the funeral of a 100 year old Franciscan brother. Brother Ronald celebrated his birthday and received a telegram from the Queen in August, 2012.  Less than six months later he was dead.  I admired him greatly.  For the last five or six years of his life I visited him twice a year from Belfast.  He lived with serious handicaps.  He was almost completely blind, so he could not read. He was almost completely deaf, so you had to stand and shout into his good ear to have any chance of making yourself heard.  Yet he never complained and never became impatient.  He spent almost his whole life sitting in a chair in his room, with little communication with other people.  Yet staff said he was the most peaceful person in the Home.  What was the secret? I think he spent his time praying, communing with God. And as he practised the presence of God he remained at peace.

All of us could do that.  Most of us don’t have to spend our lives sitting in a chair all day.  We move about, but as we move about we can practice the presence.  In my experience we need to work at this.  It does not just come automatically.  Our minds wander.  We need to discipline them, with the help of God.  But if we are prepared to stay in touch all of our waking hours that will really help to protect and develop our peace.

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