Michel Quoist or the triumph of love

I recently found an abandoned book in a church pew. I know who its author was, but I did not know that work, titled in Spanish Triumph and written by the French priest and theologian Michel Quoist (1921-1997). This writer experienced a long period of great diffusion, and the books titled in Spanish were particularly successful. Prayers to pray for the street, Love. Daniel’s diary Y Love. Ana María’s diary, which have been translated into various languages.

The discovery of the book has coincided with the 25th anniversary of Quoist’s death and I have to say that Triumph I liked it enough to the point of considering it a classic of spirituality. The first edition in French is from 1960 and the first in Spanish dates from the following year, although the book I have is a fifth edition from 1962. Apparently the Estela publishing house in Barcelona, ​​now defunct, produced around 40,000 copies. Quoist, a priest of the Diocese of Le Havre, is a representative of French Social Catholicism and it is significant that his works were published by Éditions Ouvrières. However, ecclesiastical fashions also pass and someone decided to leave a well-preserved copy of Triumph,although with somewhat yellowed pages. For a few days I have incorporated it into my meditation and reflections.

I liked it because it is a book in which love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand. That is why it now occupies a “prominent” place in my library. And it is that the great problem of Christianity at all times is the separation of both loves that, in reality, are one, just as Jesus reminded us when answering that scribe who asked him which was the most important commandment (Mt 22 , 34-40). Another great quality of the book is its defense of the harmony between the human and the supernatural. Whoever considers himself a Christian and yet separates both dimensions will only lead to a self-absorbed and sterile Christianity. I also found a phrase underlined by the former owner of the volume: “Man only forms himself by working, and only practical love for his brothers can root him in the charity of Christ. Humanly and supernaturally, man can only be “perfected” by working for the world to be perfected.” Needless to say, Quoist is telling us that we can’t separate faith from works, or turn our backs on people. Sometimes it is the case that we are too concerned with ourselves, even under pious pretexts, and we forget that the charity of Christ compels us (2 Cor 5, 14). For the rest, the author reminds us that God is a community of persons and that, if man was created in the image and likeness of God, he cannot conceive of his life as that of an isolated individual. When reading these lines, I have stopped to think that there are two kinds of isolation: that of those who isolate themselves and live as if God did not exist, and that of those who say they believe in God and isolate themselves from the world so as not to be contaminated. These attitudes forget that man has two dimensions, in the opinion of Michel Quoist: the vertical dimension, which goes towards God, because “I am not the one who lives, but Christ is the one who lives in me” (Gal 2, 20); and the horizontal dimension, which is that of man united to all men of all times and all places. It is the direction towards others. However, we have never fully understood it and, as the author points out, “anyone who has not reached these two dimensions is an unfinished, truncated, mutilated man.”

You could say that Triumph is a book about Love with capital letters, in its two dimensions. He asks us not to get attached to our projects “to succeed in life”, although perhaps this expression is used less today than several decades ago. And I cannot help associating him with Saint John of the Cross, even though this saint is not mentioned in the work. However, it would fit very well with “put love where there is no love and you will get love”, or with “in the evening of life they will examine you for love”. I associate it because in Triumph A valid question is asked for all times: “Ask your love if he loves Love. If he loves him, he will know that he is capable of loving you without limits. If not, you will realize that his love is a mutilation of the infinite”. Love is, therefore, the measure of our Christianity. Hence Quoist writes in the epilogue: “The others and the World are waiting not simply love but divine love. Your charity should not be a natural charity but a supernatural one.

An impossible task for our forces? Here it is worth remembering that “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15, 5), and Michel Quoist’s accurate definition of charity: “Charity, with the gift of grace, is the mysterious power of loving as God loves, with the heart of Christ, God, your Father, men, your brothers. The triumph of Love, although from a merely human point of view it may not always be seen that way, “is true complete success, Christian success.” This work by Quoist should not be relegated to oblivion, even if it is not republished, because he knows how to unite, as few have done, the natural and supernatural dimension of the human being.

Michel Quoist or the triumph of love