|Caryll Houselander |
1901 - 1954
British author so stunning with spiritual insight Caryll Houselander is best known for her book "The Reed of God", a meditation on Mary the mother of Jesus. The title is metaphor for Mary's willingness to allow God to work Divine Will in and through her being.
Less well known in the United States other works are rooted in her experience of the horrors of the London Blitz during World War II. Our monastic library (no longer with us to my great dismay) held some of these gems. Among them I found her little book "The Comforting of Christ". In just the title we are invited to consider such a strange notion; the idea that we human beings can comfort the suffering Christ. Think about that one.
At the end of this precious book Houselander placed a lengthy prayer entitled " A Meditation on the Mass of Reparation". Beautiful in its poetic phrasing the prayer never fails to open my heart. Over and over again I have been drawn to the section that speaks of the moment when the priest adds a drop of water to the chalice of wine. I share this section here because while its content was born in the mist of Britain's darkest hour its appropriateness in our time is so poignant. After reading of the horrors reported in the New York Times on a daily basis, I am present at Mass with this prayer before me.
"Receive the tears of the world, in the drop of water in the Chalice; receive the tears of the old mothers who weep in the ruins of their homes, rifled nests of the little birds that were once their sons; receive the tears of frightened children, of homesick children. Receive the privileged tears of those who can weep for contrition; receive the tears that are not shed, that are hard as salt-water frozen in hearts that can weep no more; that ache in the throats of those who have no more tears to shed. Receive, O God, from my hands, who am not worthy to breathe the air He breathes, the tears of Christ in the Chalice of our salvation, the tears of the Infant in Bethlehem, the tears of the little foreign Child in Egypt, the tears shed over Jerusalem, the tears shed over Lazarus...O God, we offer Thee the tears of Christ in the tears of the world: "We offer Thee the Chalice of Salvation, humbly begging Thy mercy that it may ascend to Thee for our salvation and for that of the whole world."