The last book of an old favourite

Keeping Hope: Favourite Prayers for Modern Living

In the 30 years before his death in 1997, the French priest and theologian Michel Quoist was one of the most popular of all spiritual writers. Over his 40-year career as writer, he published over 12 books, which remain in print. But this is a new collection which appeared only last year in France.

What made Michel Quoist special was that, unlike so many writers  his readers then might have grown up with, he was rooted in the life of modern times, rather than an evocation of an ideal religious past.

It was the witness of a man suggesting to them just how they might approach God in the modern age that made his work so acceptable in some 27 languages to millions of readers.His was a late vocation and he was active when working in Catholic Action and was influenced by the ideals of the Worker Priests.

Modern industry

Aside from his social research and spiritual writings, he devoted himself to parish work in Rouen and Le Havre, cities which combined old ways of life with modern industry.

“Hope” in the title might seem to suggest an existing sense of despair, but the original French title referred rather to “keeping confidence”, which suggests a much more positive ideal, more in keeping with Quoist’s outlook.

To those long familiar with Quoist’s writing – and those who are new to him – this book may prove a landmark in the spiritual lives of many in a new century and a new millennium.