Son, I Beseech You, Don’t Sleep Anymore

This is one of my favourite prayer-poems, by Michel Quoist in his book “Prayers of Life”

“I shall be in agony till the end of time,” God says.
I shall be crucified till the end of time.
My sons the Christians don’t seem to realize it.
I am scourged, buffeted, stretched out, crucified; I die in front
of them and they don’t know it, they see nothing, they
are blind.
They are not true Christians, or they would not go on living
while I am dying.

Lord, I don’t understand; it is not possible; you exaggerate.
I would defend you if you were attacked.
I would be at your side if you were dying.
Lord, I love you!

That is not true, God says. Men are deluding themselves.
They say they love me, they believe they love me, and, as I
am willing to admit, they are often sincere, but they are
terribly mistaken. They do not understand, they do not see.
Slowly everything has been distorted, dried up, emptied.
They think they love me because once a month they honour my
Sacred Heart.
As if I loved them only twelve times a year!
They think they love me because they keep to their devotions
regularly, attend a benediction, eat fish on Fridays, burn
a candle or say a prayer before a picture of my Sacred
Heart.

But I am not made of plaster, God says, nor of stone nor of
bronze.
I am living flesh, throbbing, suffering.
I am among men, and they have not recognized me.
I am poorly paid, I am unemployed, I live in a slum, I have
tuberculosis, I sleep under bridges, I am in prison, I am
oppressed, I am patronized.
And yet I said to them: “Whatever you do to my brothers,
however humble, you do to me”…That’s clear.
The worst is that they know it, but that they don’t take it
seriously.
They have broken my heart, God says, and I have waited for
someone to have pity on me, but no one has.

I am cold, God says, I am hungry, I am naked.
I am imprisoned, laughed at, humiliated.
But this is a minor passion, for men have invented more terrible
ordeals.
Armed with their liberty, formidably armed with their liberty,
They have invented…
“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”
They have invented war, true war.
And they have invented the Passion.

For I am everywhere that men are, God says,
Since they day when I slipped among them, on a mission, to save
them all.
Since the day when I definitely committed myself to trying to
gather them together.

Now I am rich and I am poor, a workman and a boss.
I am a Union member and a non-Union member, a striker
and a strike-breaker, for men, alas! make me do all kinds of
things.
I am on the side of the demonstrators and on the side of the
police, for men, alas! transform me into a policeman.
I am a leftist, a rightist and even in the centre.
I am this side of the Iron Curtain and beyond.
I am a German and a Frenchman, a Russian and an American,
A Chinese from Nationalist China and one from Communist
China,
I am from Vietnam and from Vietminh.
I am everywhere men are, God says.

They have accepted me, they possess me, the traitors!
Hail, Master!
And now I am with them, one of them, their very selves.
Now, see what they have done to me…
They are scourging me, crucifying me,
They tear me apart when they tear at one another.
They kill me when they kill one another.
Men have invented war…
I jump on mines, I gasp my last breath in foxholes,
I moan, riddled with shrapnel; I collapse under the volley of
machine-gun fire,
I sweat men’s blood on all battlefields,
I cry out in the night and die in the solitude of battle.
O world of strife, immense cross on which, every day, men
stretch me.
Wasn’t the wood of Golgotha enough?
Was this immense altar necessary for my sacrifice of love?
While all around me men keep on shouting, singing, dancing,
and, as if insane, crucify me in an enormous burst of
laughter.
Lord, enough! Have pity on me!
Not that! it isn’t I!

Yes son, it is you.
You, and your brothers, for
several blows are needed to drive in a nail,
several lashes are needed to furrow a shoulder,
several thorns are needed to make a crown,
and you belong to the humanity that all together condemns
me.
It matters not whether you are among those who hit or among
those who watch, among those who perform or among those
who let it happen.
You are all guilty, actors and spectators.
But above all, son, don’t be one of those who are asleep, one
of those who can still fall asleep…in peace. Sleep!
Sleep is terrible!
“Can you not watch one hour with me?”

On your knees, son! Do you not hear the roar of battle?
The bell is ringing,
Mass is starting,
God is dying for you, crucified by men.

The notes surrounding this prayer state:
“We must contemplate Christ on the way to Calvary. We must relive with him the Stations of the Cross to become deeply aware of his love for us. But his Passion is not fully completed. Lived by the Christ who assumed all the sins and sufferings of men two thousand years ago, it is now relived in this world, and will be till the end of time. Christ, living in his members, continues to suffer and die for us under our eyes. The Way of the Cross winds through our towns and cities, our hospitals and factories, and through our battlefields; it takes the road of poverty and suffering in every form.
It is in front of these new Stations of the Cross that we must stop and meditate and pray to the suffering Christ for strength to love him enough to act.
~Michel Quoist 

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  1. […] and in the words of the very powerful poem/prayer by Michel Quoist (which I have on my site in its entirety): […]

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