Prayers of Life

The following prayer is from Michel Quoist’s excellent book, Prayers of Life. It was written in 1954, before inclusive language was felt important, so if you pray it, change it as you need.

There are two loves only, Lord,
Love of myself and love of you and of others,
And each time that I love myself, it’s a little less love for you and
for others, It’s a draining away of love,
It’s a loss of love,
For love is made to leave self and fly towards others.
Each time it’s diverted to myself, it withers, rots and dies.
Love of self, Lord, is a poison that I absorb each day;
Love of self offers me a cigarette and gives none to my neighbor;
Love of self chooses the best part and keeps the best place;
Love of self indulges my senses and supplies them from the table of others;
Love of self speaks about myself and makes me deaf to the words of others;
Love of self chooses, and forces that choice on a friend;
Love of self puts on a false front; it wants me to shine, overshadowing others;
Love of self is self-pitying and overlooks the suffering of others;
Love of self advertises my ideas and despises those of others;
Love of self thinks me virtuous, it calls me a good man;
Love of self induces me to make money, to spend it for my pleasure, to hoard it for my future;
Love of self advises me to give to the poor in order to ease my conscience and live in peace;
Love of self puts my slippers on and ensconces me in an easy chair;
Love of self is satisfied with myself; it gently rocks me to sleep.

What is more serious, Lord, is that love of self is a stolen love. It was destined for others; they needed it to live, to thrive, and I have diverted it. So the love of self creates human suffering.

So the love of men for themselves creates human misery.
All the miseries of men,
All the sufferings of men;
The suffering of the boy whose mother has slapped him without cause and that of the man whose boss has reprimanded him in front of the workers. 
The suffering of the ugly girl neglected at a dance, and that of the woman whose husband doesn’t kiss her anymore.
The suffering of the child left at home because he’s a nuisance and that of the grandfather made fun of because he’s too old.
The suffering of the worried man who hasn’t been able to confide in anyone and that of the troubled adolescent whose worries have been ridiculed;
The siffering of the desperate man who jumps into the canal and that of the criminal who is going to be executed, 
The suffering of the unemployed man who wants to work and that of the worker who ruins his health for a ridiculous salary.
The suffering of the father who piles his family into a single room next to an empty house and that of the mother whose children are hungry while the remains of a party are thrown into the garbage,
The suffering of one who dies alone, while his family, in the adjoining room, wait for his death, drinking coffee.

All sufferings,
All injustices, bitterness, humiliations, griefs, hates, despairs, All sufferings are an unappeased hunger, A hunger for love.
So men have built, slowly, selfishness by selfishness, a disfigured world that crushes them;
So the men on earth spend their time feeding their self-love,
While around them others with outstretched arms die of hunger.

They have squandered love.
I have squandered your love, Lord.
Tonight I ask you to help me to love.
Grant me, Lord, to spread true love in the world.

Grant that by me and by your children it may penetrate a little into all circles, all societies, all economic and political systems, all laws, all contracts, all rulings; Grant that it may penetrate into offices, factories, apartment buildings, movie houses, dance halls;

Grant that it may penetrate the hearts of men and that I may never forget that the battle for a better world is a battle of love, in the service of love.

Help me to love, Lord, not to waste my powers of love, to love myself less in order to love others more and more, That around me, no one should suffer or die because I have stolen the love they needed to live.

*******

Son, you will never succeed in putting enough love into the heart of man and into the world, For many and the world are hungry for an infinite love, And God alone can love with a boundless love.

But if you want, son, I give you my Life,
Draw it within you.
I give you my heart, I give it to my sons.
Love with my heart, son,
And all together you will feed the world, and you will save it.

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