"People ask a great deal of their priest, and they should. But they should also understand that it is not easy to be a priest. He has given himself in all the ardor or youth, yet he still remains a man, and every day the man in him tries to take back what he has surrendered. It is a continual struggle to remain completely at the service of Christ and of others.
A priest needs no praise or embarrassing gifts; what he needs is that those committed to his charge should, by loving their fellows more and more, prove to him that he has not given his life in vain. And as he remains a man, he may need, once in a while, a delicate gesture of disinterested friendship... some Sunday night when he is alone.
"Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1,17).
"You did not choose me: I chose you. I appointed you to go on and bear fruit that shall last..." (John 15, 16)
"Forgetting what is behind me, and reaching out for that which lies ahead, I press towards the goal to win the prize which is God's call to the life above, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3, 13-14).
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 movie house that was disgorging its crowd.
I skirted cafe terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong the pleasure
of a Sunday holiday.
I bumped into youngsters playing on the sidewalk,
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 thirty-five years old,
A body made like others,
Arms 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 to claim no one.
It's hard to shake a hand and not want to retain it.
It's hard to inspire affection, only 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 other.
It's hard always to give without trying to receive.
It's hard to seek out others and to be, oneself, unsought.
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 everyone,
Alone before the world,
Alone before suffering,
Son, you are not alone,
I am with you;
I am you.
For I needed another human instrument 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 hearts 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, everyting human, leads toward 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.
--Michel Quoist, Prayers (English translation of the 1963 French original, Avon Books, 1975, pp. 64-68)