Prayers of Life by Michel Quoist
In 1975, I picked up a book while visiting a close Catholic friend. I asked her if I could borrow it, as it immediately spoke loudly to me. Months later, I said to her, “I’m sorry, you are not going to get that book back. I sent it to my mother (in England).” My friend laughed, replying, “I’ve never been able to keep a copy of that book.”
I found that I, too, have been unable to keep a copy of it.
Michel Quoist’s Prayers of Life, first published in French in 1954 and in English in 1966, has sold at least 2,500,000 copies. Quoist wrote the slim volume at only 33 years of age while serving as a Catholic priest in a poverty-stricken area of Normandy.
I have gone painful periods without an edition when it was out of print. I sent my last copy to an op-shop when downsizing, but I will always remember it. And, of course, there are still people I will refer or give this book to.
Quoist writes poetic prayers about people suffering due to poverty, unemployment and abuse, and of the “poor in spirit”. In one prayer he writes:
“As soon as I started to open the door I saw them, with outstretched hands, burning eyes, longing hearts, like beggars on church steps. The first ones came in, Lord. There was after all some space in my heart…You would have been pleased, Lord, I would have served and honoured you in a proper, respectable way. Till then, it was sensible…But the next ones, Lord, the other men, I had not seen them…Now they have come from all over, in successive waves…It’s too much! It’s no kind of life! What about my job? My family? My peace? My liberty? And me? Lord, I have lost everything, I don’t belong to myself any longer; There’s no more room for me at home. ‘Don’t worry’, God says, ‘you have gained all. While men came into you, I, your Father, I, your God, slipped in among them.’”
This book is special because it brings these needs into my sitting room, and into my heart, in a way that moves me deeply and stirs me to be ever more compassionate.
Editor’s note: If you would like to share with other readers what book about living out faith, including books with theological, spiritual, ministry, Church history or justice themes, you have given away (or referred) the most and why, please email the Editor Michelle McDonald and she will let you know what is needed.Jump to next article