By Michel Quoist, in his book titled Prayers
It is not easy to love, and if, all too often, our loves miscarry, isn't it because of a dreadful mistake? Were not our loves simply "the clash of two egoisms"? Did we even succeed in crossing the threshold of our selves? If true love gives joy, it is bought by suffering.
"...they are no longer two individuals: they are one flesh. What God has joined together, man must not separate." (Mark X, 8-9)
"...men also are bound to love their wives, as they love their own bodies. In loving his wife a man loves himself. For no one ever hated his own body: on the contrary, he provides and cares for it; and that is how Christ treats the Church, because it is his body, of which we are living parts. Thus it is that (in the worlds of Scripture) 'a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become a single body.' It is a great truth that is hidden here. I for my part prefer it to Christ and to the church, ... each of you must love his wife as his very self; and the woman must see to it that she pays her husband all respect." (Ephesians V, 28-33)
It was about noon when I knocked at his door.
I found Marcel alone, still lying on the bed which was now too big for him;
His wife had left him a few days ago.
It hurt me, Lord, to see that poor fellow so discouraged, that house half-empty.
A presence was lacking,
A love was lacking.
I missed the bunch of flowers on the mantelpiece, the powder and lipstick on the wash-basin, the bureau scarf on the bureau and the chairs properly arranged.
I found the sheets dirty on a bed wrinkled like an old face, the ash-trays filled to overflowing, shoes scattered on the floor, a rag on the easy-chair, and the blinds closed.
It was dark, dismal, and stuffy.
It hurt me, Lord.
I felt something torn, something unbalanced,
Like a mechanism gone wrong,
Like a man with broken bones.
And I reflected that what you had planned was good,
And that there can be no order and beauty, love and joy, outside of your plan.
I pray to you tonight, Lord,
for Marcel and for her
and for the other one
and for the wife of the other one
and for his children
and for the families involved
and for the neighbors who gossip
and for the colleagues who judge.
I ask of you forgiveness
for all these lacerations,
for all these wonds,
and for your blood poured out, because of these wounds, in your Mystical Body.
I pray to you tonight, Lord, for myself and for all my friends.
Teach us to love.
It is not easy to love, son.
Often when you think you love, it is only yourself that you love, and you spoil everything, you shatter everything.
To love is to meet oneself, and to meet oneself one must be willing ot leave oneself and go toward another.
To love is to commune, and to commune one must forget oneself for another,
One must die to self completely for another.
To love hurts, you know, son,
For since the Fall -- listen carefully, son -- to love is to crucify self for another.
Reprinted from Prayers, by Michel Quoist, translated by Agnes M. Forsyth and Anne Marie de Commaille, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1963.