The Priest: A Prayer on Sunday Night
Note from Father Martino: 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 embarassing 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.
As it is Saturday evening now, with the Sabbath drawing near, this Michel Quoist prayer from his book “Prayers of Life” should help us understand our priests and emphatise with them a little better, especially when we have such great expectations from the “Men in Black”!
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 entrances where tired strollers were trying to prolong the pleasure 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, Alone.
The silence troubles me. The solitude oppresses me.
Lord, I am 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 to 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 one of them.
It’s hard always to 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 the one who is strong.
It’s hard to be alone,
Alone before everyone,
Alone before the world,
Alone before suffering, death, sin.
Son, you are not alone,
I am with you,
I am you.
For I needed another human 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 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.