Prayer & Praise
“Lord, I fight, together with my comrades, loyal to my movement and to my organisation, united in the struggle for a life that is more just and more human. But the battle is hard and very often I’m afraid of being in it without you.
Lord, I’d like to be sure that you’re with me in the struggle.
Alas, people are needed to stand up for the cause when a war is raging. Perhaps all of them will retire one day, refusing to become involved, but that won’t happen tomorrow.
And today there are many causes to defend and there are wars to mobilise the combatants. People are needed to care for the wounded and to bury the dead, because the victims are legion and they call on us to look after them. People are needed to sign the treaties when some battles are over. But many more people are needed to avoid wars by building peace, the peace that flourishes when justice reigns. I hesitated for a long time before becoming involved in this peaceful struggle. Along with some of the other shirkers, I calmed my conscience, holding forth learnedly that one person alone cannot lift up the world. I kept away from suspect groups of the revolutionary type. I thought that the worlds of economics, trade unions, politics were polluted worlds and I was afraid that plunging into them would mean dirtying my hands. But I wasn’t at peace, Lord. And weren’t you there, challenging me constantly through what was going on around me? For you have told me that I must love my brothers and sisters. But loving them is not only offering them a smile or holding out a hand. If they have nothing to eat, if they are ignorant and exploited and above all if they are deprived of bread, of dignity, can I send them back home with my hand closed on my money, saying to them: ‘I love you’ or even: ‘I’m praying for you!’
I became involved but you know it’s hard, because while those who struggle and serve amid the ravages of war are admired and decorated, those who struggle to change this unjust and cruel world into a world of peace and harmony are often criticised and sometimes judged severely. You pushed me into it, Lord, so I ask you not to leave me alone, because when I become very involved I find myself in the thick of the struggle, attacked… with blows raining down from adversaries and sometimes from friends; misjudged… I’m considered too right wing, too left wing, too much to the centre and everyone paints me in a different colour.
I search, and I search for myself, and I have doubts sometimes. Because the struggle is not straightforward and I suffer as a result. And the battles are so tough that I often lose sight of you, I admit it. Alone in the evening, before you, I regret this. I’m ashamed of it and I ask for your forgiveness. Because if I want to struggle, I want you to be with me.
Hear my prayer, Lord, for I know that our human constructions are not the Kingdom. I know also that the yeast needs the dough to make it rise. And the dough needs flour, and the flour needs wheat, and the wheat, the flour and the dough require the work of our hands so that the bread may be baked and justly shared out, and so that from this bread that is offered you may make your Eucharist. Lord, give me, I pray, the yeast of your love! Help me not to judge and condemn the people who sit calmly on the sidelines, discussing, watching us as we battle in the arena. And take away the jealously I feel when I see them profiting without a qualm from our victories, forgetting that they owe them to us.
Help me to understand, to accept, that people of the same faith profess ideas that are opposed to mine; let me be able to receive communion at the same table with those who are on the other side in the fight. Let loyalty to my movement, to my party, never be an absolute for me; for me, whose involvement in the struggle is a matter of conscience, who while accepting its instructions and obeying faithfully frequently rebels when your Church speaks and sometimes refuses to follow its directives. Give me the strength, the strength to say no when my conscience refuses to say yes, and the courage to accept the reproaches of friends who accuse me of treason, even though for me it is a matter of true loyalty. Help me to know your Gospel, not to look for prescriptions that can’t be found in it, but to be nourished by your Word so that this good seed may sprout from my well-prepared ground, may bloom as good news for my brothers and sisters and may ripen for them as fruits of justice and peace. Finally, Lord, grant me that supreme grace, the grace that only you can give, to love my adversaries as well as my allies, not only in the secret temple of my better feelings, but by listening to them, respecting them, trying to understand them; and the grace to believe that sincerity and generosity are not reserved for me, but can be found in others, even if they are enemies. For you know how I get carried away, Lord, and how I tend, too quickly perhaps, to refer to this as my passion for justice!
Sometimes I am so anxious to get my own back and to hurt those who have hurt me that I find it hard, yes, very hard to forgive. Lord, give me the strength to forgive.
I am with you, says the Lord, I am with you in your struggles, because I am with all those who fight to defend their brothers and sisters, even when they venture onto battlegrounds far from the protected enclosure where the fearful lie dormant. But look at what is going on in your heart, my child, because I cannot be present where there is hatred and only love can ensure your victory while at the same time ensuring mine. Why do you doubt, you of little faith? Happy are you! Happy are all of you who have the courage to risk getting your hands and your feet dirty in the struggle for justice, because I didn’t come for those who stayed clean by remaining seated with their hands in their pockets. Don’t be afraid of anything! I washed the feet of my disciples, and if the feet of the combatants are covered in dust, I’ll wash them too.”
Quoist, Michel (2014-09-05). Keeping Hope – Favourite Prayers for Modern Living: Selected Inspirational Prayers from World-Renowned Theologian Michel Quoist (Kindle Locations 666-667). Gill & Macmillan. Kindle Edition.