If we could have met Caryll, I suspect that at first we might have been surprised at the thought of calling her holy because she appeared to be relatively ordinary, though decidedly eclectic, and she smoked, drank, and was subject to fragile health, both mentally and physically. She referred to herself as a ‘singular’ person, meaning that she never fit into any group, nor did she want to. But she was known as a gifted counselor, even though she never had any formal training; because of her own experience of receiving counseling she was able to help many others who also suffered from neurosis. Additionally, she had spiritual gifts which enabled her to have insights into people and to help them to find alleviation for their suffering. In all of this, unless one came into close contact with her, Caryll might not have been someone who would stand out as a holy person. Once again, we must realize that holiness does not ‘look’ a particular way, but rather it is about living the love of God we profess.
May we offer everything we do with everyone as a fling of the heart to God! May we realize that in our own unique, ordinary way, we can offer ourselves and what we do as our truest prayer! May we seek the grace of respect and reverence and then offer it to others, and especially to Christ who is present in them! May we learn to apply the gift of respect and reverence also to ourselves! And may we find joy in the love and mercy of Jesus in our relationships with others, and especially in the gift of Eucharist! Let us continue to meet in the Heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
Notes: Next post: October 22
For the most part, I used two books for my information:
*Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings, Selected with Commentary by Wendy M. Wright.
**A Rocking Horse-Catholic, by Caryll Houselander. This is her autobiography.
Below are some articles from which I also drew some information, but I also highly recommend Caryll Houselander's books, such as The Reed of God. Her poetry is also exquisite. (There is a fair amount of it in the book by Wendy Wright.)
1. I took this photo a number of years ago at Crater Lake, Oregon. I used it to begin this entry because of the mirror image of the mountains and clouds which appeared on the water. It is almost difficult to see where the mountains end and the water begins. This photo made me think of how Caryll Houselander had a sense of being as Christ to others; in a holy person it might be 'difficult' to see where the person ends and Christ begins, so to speak.
2. This is the photo of Caryll Houselander which appears on the cover of the book by Wendy Wright, mentioned above: Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings.
3. This is an icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called Mother of God After Fra Angelico. I am very fond of the work of Fra Angelico and I am very fond of Our Lady, as Caryll referred to the Mother of Jesus. Thus, using this icon of Mary in reference to Caryll's book The Reed of God made sense to me. You can find this icon, and purchase a copy if you so desire, at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/mother-of-god-after-fra-angelico-168-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
4. This painting is one of the more famous paintings of Vincent van Gogh, called Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles France. (1888) I chose it as a representation of people having a "real fling of the heart to God" as they conversed and possibly drank some wine together. Upon researching it, however, I saw an article in which the author proposed that this painting contains a somewhat hidden reference to the Last Supper. That connection reminded me of Caryll's sense of people becoming "Christed." I am not sure about the theory, compelling as it seems, but in case you are interested: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/06/van-gogh-last-supper_n_6753294.html
5. I took this photo while on a boat tour of Lake Lugano, near Lugano, Switzerland. I chose to use it here as an example of a community of people, perhaps a community of 'other Christs.'
6. I took this photo in Hermann Park which is in Houston, Texas. It depicts people gathering together in the Park taking in the beauty of the day, engaging in fun and conversation with one another. Perhaps they are entering into the truest prayer, enjoying a fling of their hearts to God.
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