LAST NEWS   Michel Quoist

translated by J. F. BERNARD

1. Loving one's brother today 9. My neighbor and I 17. In the image of God
2. If Jesus read today' s newspaper 10. My husband is not a Christian 18. The dead are alive!
3. God's children go to school 11. The commercial smile and the Christian smile 19. The age of anguish
4. I'm too good a neighbor 12. There is someone among you
 you don' t even know
20. We have too much to do
5. I want to be Somebody! 13. There are too many people we just leave asleep 21. It's Christmas at our house
6. On God' s track 14. Our little girl is a young woman 22. The Christian in action
7. A Father's gifts 15. A miracle tranquilliser 23. My parents are divorced
8. Finding my place in the work of creation 16. Houses for the children of God 24. The rediscovery of nature

15. A miracle tranquillizer

At work this morning, Jack told me that his doctor had ordered him to stay at home for several weeks. It seems he was suffering from nervous depression.
One of the women in the flat next-door to us has been constantly complaining to my wife that she 'doesn't sleep a wink all night'. Her doctor has given her some sleeping pills.
Another friend of my wife' s is on tranquillizers.
As for myself, my nerves are in a bad way. My doctor has limited me to one cup of coffee a day and told me to cut down my smoking.
We are not alone, of course. All around us, people are overwrought, tense, restless. They are all looking for a less hectic way of life; and, even more, they are looking for a miracle drug to relax them, tranquillize them, make them sleep.
I wonder if we are going about this in the right way. I suspect that there is another way to save men who are tormented, tom and bruised, and who are at the point of collapse. Surely the Lord has something to say to us in the midst of our agony - an effective tranquillizer of his own to propose.
There is a sudden crack in the living-room wall. The owner of the house is frightened. He covers the crack with expensive wallpaper. For the moment, he feels better. He is tranquillized.
But the crack widens and tears the paper. The man covers the crack with a thicker paper, and again he is tranquillized.
It may seem ridiculous, but man follows the same pattern in other areas of his life. He closes his eyes when he sees a problem, and, for the moment, he feels better. But the problem remains.
Human remedies very often cure symptoms, rather than diseases. They do not go to the heart of the problem.
Certainly, modern man must have the courage to try to find peace, relaxation, sleep. Certainly, he must fight with all his strength for better living conditions. But are the sound
and the fury all outside man? Does the pressure come only from work and from traffic jams? Isn't it also within man himself? Is there tension only in life, or does it exist also in the human heart?
Man today exists in a piecemeal fashion. Overwhelmed as he is by outside commitments, he ends up by exploding. His vitality, his sexuality, his emotions, his imaginational of his faculties-are drifting away from the essential unity of his personality.
What really exhausts modern man is the perpetual search for his 'identity'. His overworked and over-extended faculties pull him in every direction until he is hardly conscious of what he is doing. His nervous system at first puts up with this grueling pace; then, one day, it too is exhausted, and collapses.
In the face of this crisis, some men say that this is real and total freedom; that man must allow all of his strength to be brought into play so that he may fulfill himself at his own pace. Others, by an act of the will, impose a certain interior discipline upon themselves, and succeed only in deforming and perverting their frustrated faculties.
Some men appeal to taboos, to moral laws-but without bothering about where these taboos and laws come from. And other men run to their doctors and psychiatrists, or take refuge in drugs which give them the illusion of peace.
It is the Christian belief that there is a flaw within man which existed long before this internal rift, and which goes much deeper than the latter. Human nature itself has been wounded by sin - that is, by non-love.
Man's various faculties are trying to fulfil themselves individually, independently of one another, without reference to any hierarchy of values or to any objective except their own individual satisfaction. The external irritations: provided by the modern world work towards this imbalance and aggravate it.
At the same time, there exists in man a deep desire for interior harmony, for peace and the development of his entire being. Every man is destined to achieve the supreme success: divinization. At the very beginning, it was suggested to man that he strike out on his own. 'You will be like gods,' he was told-gods without God.
Man, however, is only a draft, a rough copy. Alone, he is incapable of attaining his full stature. It is only in Jesus Christ, the Savior, that we can be made divine: 'Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ
. . . determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ' (Eph. I: 4-5).
We are therefore on the horns of a dilemma. Man must either try to fulfill himself by his own efforts, without God, and thus surrender to interior anarchy; or he must be willing to open himself to God' s saving Love and become, at every moment of his life, the new man, unified and at peace with himself (but not necessarily free from suffering). St Paul understood this and expressed it perfectly: to live, he said, is Christ.
The cause of modern man' s crisis is that he does not know God and wants to do without him. But the farther away he gets from God, and the more he makes use of human tranquillizers, the greater harm he does to himself His [mal punishment, if he does not discover Christ the Savior, will be that he will destroy himself from within.
Since we not only commit sins but also and above all are essentially sinners-that is, sinful in our very natures-we must freely place Christ the Savior at the centre of our being. He will then re-establish unity within us and give us peace.
The sacrament of penance is no longer fashionable. Yet, whatever its exterior form, it is indispensable to the modem world, for it offers redemption to each of us, and the opportunity to reduce the sins which tear us apart. We are saved by Love, which re-establishes harmony and order in our being and gives us profound peace. 'Peace I bequeath to you,'
Jesus said, 'my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you'  (John 14: 27).
We must ask Jesus to save us, but we must also offer ourselves to him. Every man, whatever his life may be, and whatever kind of world he lives in, can gather himself up that is, collect the whole of his faculties-and reassemble himself so as to begin the journey towards other men and towards God. And, if he wishes to live, he must do so.
It takes only a few seconds, anywhere, at any time, to give all. For it is our life, whole and entire, that we must place in God' s hands.


'I seek Yahweh, and he answers me,
and frees me from all my fears' (Ps. 34: 4).

'In God alone there is rest for my soul,
from him comes my safety' (Ps. 62: I).

'My eyes are always on Yahweh,
for he releases my feet from the net' (Ps. 25: 15).

'Unload your burden on to Yahweh,
and he will support you;
he will never permit
the virtuous to falter' (Ps. 55: 22).

'I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart exults, my very soul rejoices,
my body, too, will rest securely' (Ps. 16: 8-9).

'In peace I lie down, and fall asleep at once,
since you alone, Yahweh, make me rest secure' (Ps. 4: 8).

'He provides for his beloved as they sleep' (Ps. 127: 2).