I have just returned from the ICU Ward at the local hospital where I was called to administer the sacraments to one of my parishioners. Please ask the Lord to stay with now on his final journey.
As I drove back the words of a prayer by Fr Michel Quoist came into my mind. I am sure it is a prayer that every priest can identify with. Please keep all priests in your prayers – especially on Sunday evenings.
Tonight, Lord, I am alone.
Little by little the sounds died down in the church,
The people went away,
And I came home,
I passed people who were returning from a walk.
I went by the cinema that was disgorging its crowd.
I skirted cafe terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong
the pleasures of a Sunday holiday.
I bumped into youngsters playing on the footpath,
Other people’s youngsters who will never be my own.
Here I am Lord,
The silence troubles me,
The solitude oppresses me.
Lord, I’m 35 years old,
A body made like others,
ready for work,
A heart meant for love,
But I’ve given you all.
It’s true, of course, that you needed it.
I’ve given you all, but it’s hard Lord.
It’s hard to give one’s body; it would like to give itself to others.
It’s hard to love everyone and claim no one.
It’s hard to shake a hand and not want to retain it.
It’s hard to inspire affection, to give it to you.
It’s hard to be nothing to oneself in order to be
everything to others.
It’s hard to be like others, among others, and to be of them.
It’s hard to always give without trying to receive.
It’s hard to seek out others and to be unsought oneself.
It’s hard to suffer from the sins of others, and yet
be obliged to hear and bear them.
It’s hard to be told secrets, and be unable to share them.
It’s hard to carry others and never, even for a moment, be carried.
It’s hard to sustain the feeble and never be able to lean on
one who is strong.
It’s hard to be alone.
Alone before the world.
Alone before suffering,
Son, you are not alone,
I am with you,
I am you.
For I needed another vehicle to continue
my Incarnation and my Redemption.
Out of all eternity, I chose you.
I need you.
I need your hands to continue to bless,
I need your lips to continue to speak,
I need your body to continue to suffer,
I need your heart to continue to love,
I need you to continue to save,
Stay with me, son.
Here I am, Lord;
Here is my body,
Here is my heart,
Here is my soul.
Grant that I may be big enough to reach the world,
Strong enough to carry it,
Pure enough to embrace it without wanting to keep it.
Grant that I may be a meeting-place,
but a temporary one,
A road that does not end in itself,
because everything to be gathered there,
everything human, leads towards you.
Lord, tonight, while all is still and I feel sharply
the sting of solitude,
While men devour my soul And I feel incapable
of satisfying their hunger,
While the whole world presses on my shoulders with
all its weight of misery and sin,
I repeat to you my “yes” – not in a burst of laughter,
but slowly, clearly, humbly,
Alone, Lord, before you,
In the peace of the evening.
Fr Michel Quoist,
Born: Le Havre 18 June 1921
Ordained Priest: 1947
Died: Le Havre 18 December 1997