UNBORN WORD of the day

Caryll Houselander on the power of the Infancy of Christ
October 29, 2007, 8:01 am
Filed under: Quotes from Great Christians, The Incarnation


Our Lady of Perpetual Help *

Caryll Houselander was born on October 29, 1901. Caryll was one of the most popular spiritual writers of her day. She is certainly still one of my favorites. Many of her books are still in print. Maisie Ward (Frank Sheed’s wife) wrote a wonderful biography about her “Caryll Houselander – The Divine Eccentric” which was published in 1962.


While in college (many eons ago) a friend of mine and I were reading this biography at the same time – I still remember a funny comment that she made to me at the time – ‘Hey, this is actually, the first person I’ve read about who might be a saint who drank a Martini.’ I think Maisie Ward had a story in the book about inviting Caryll over for dinner and giving her a before dinner drink. I don’t have the book so I can’t check on why my friend made this comment but it made me laugh at the time and has always stuck with me.

On the occasion of her death, Ronald Knox said of Caryll Houselander that she could have established a school of spirituality. In a letter to The Tablet on 23 October 1954, he wrote:

“…she seemed to see everybody for the first time, and the driest of doctrinal considerations shone out like a restored picture when she had finished with it. And her writing was always natural; she seemed to find no difficulty in getting the right word; no, not merely the right word, the telling word, that left you gasping.”

Of course I’m going to end this with a quote from Caryll Houselander about the Unborn Christ Child from her book, The Passion of the Infant Christ.

“There is in fact, a huge force, a tremendous power for love being neglected, not being used, at the time when it is needed as never before and when every sign seems to be pointing to it and challenging it as the only answer-the power of the Infancy of Christ.

The Infant Christ is the whole Christ. Christ was not more God, more Christ, more man, on the Cross than He was in His Mother’s womb. His first tear, His first smile, His first pulsation in the womb of His Mother, could have redeemed the world.”

*An icon venerated by Christians of the East and West for centuries. The Archangels Gabriel and Michael hold the instruments of the Lord’s Passion, while the Divine Child looks on and clings to His Mother’s hand. Also known as “Our Mother of Sorrows.” 

As God, He knew that the angelic apparition was prophetic of His future passion.  Yet in His human nature as a small child, He is frightened and runs to His Mother for protection.  Our Lady hastily picks Him up and clasps Him to her bosom.  This action is indicated by the fact that the Lord’s right foot is nervously curled about the left ankle and in such haste that His right sandal has become loosened and hangs by a single strap.  Further action is indicated by the way the Child Jesus clasps His Mother’s right hand with both of His, holding tightly to Our Lady’s thumb.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you! Lovely post!

Comment by booklady

Thanks, Caryll Houselander was both an interesting person and great writer.


Comment by unbornwordoftheday

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: