Caryll Houselander on the infant Christ and the single vocation
#1
[font=Times New Roman]From The Passion of the Infant Christ (1949)

By Caryll Houselander

     The Divine Foundling has His foster-parents throughout the world.  Every mother may contemplate the infant Christ in her own children.  But there is also a vocation of motherhood for the childless.  Listen to these mysterious words of our Lord:  "Whosever shall do the will of my Father, who is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother."

     There are nuns who mother Christ in orphans and in schoolchildren.  But it is not of these that I am speaking, but of those celibates who seem to have no place or raison d'être at all in the eyes of the world, but who, nevertheless, know well the truth of those words "Many are the children of the barren, more than of her who has a husband."

     To be a foster-mother or father of the orphaned Christ is a sublime vocation; it exacts a profound humility from those who are called to it and confers a unique majesty upon them.

     Very often the worldly, with their ideals of Hollywood, pass such people by with a vaguely uncomfortable contempt; they regard celibacy itself as either a disease or a disgrace and, in either case, a disaster.  Lives that are neither those of married people nor of vowed religious, which are not breathless with social success or obsessed with making money, lives that are so "empty" that there is time in them to "go about doing good," as Christ did on earth, lives that are, in fact, spent for the most part with the lowly and the outcasts and the insignificant -- seem to the vast masses of mediocracy to be deserts of waste, stony uncultivated wildernesses.

     But in the eyes of God, they are the wilderness that flowers.  If they are in a wilderness, these foster-parents of the child Jesus, they are there with the angel who comforted Christ after the forty days of fasting, and with their prototype St. Joseph with the infant Christ in the desert:

     Thus saith the Lord:  "The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice and shall flourish like the lily.  It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise; the glory of Libanus is given to it; the beauty of Carmel, and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God."

     These foster-parents of Christ are not those terrible reformers of individual lives who, urged and driven by an unrecognized sense of power or vanity, interfere with people's lives, fumbling at the locked doors of their souls with clumsy fingers, bruising when they touch to heal.  They are, on the contrary, sensitive people who approach others, not with exhortation, but with sympathy, not with self-satisfaction, but with humility.

     They give and they listen; they see the spark of life wherever it is and fan it by the warm breath of their humanity; they reverence the solitude of other people's souls; they bear other people's burdens and rejoice in their joy, without imposing upon them.

     Not only do they tread delicately so as not to crush the broken reed, but they go down on their knees to bind it up.  They take the neglected Christ Child to their own hearts instinctively and comfort Him.

     They are those people who will be amazed when Christ calls them on the day of judgment and greets them by telling them that they gave Him food and shelter and clothed Him and came to Him in prison.  For it is not those who make a double-entry account of their kindness, and have a balance sheet of "merit" prepared against the day of wrath, who will receive this lovely recognition and be astonished by it.

     Then shall the just answer Him, saying: "Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, and feed Thee; thirsty and give thee drink?  And when did we see Thee a stranger, and take Thee in?  Or naked, and cover Thee?  Or when did we see Thee sick or in prison and come to Thee?"  And the king answering, shall say to them:  "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me."

     They are "the just," and of St. Joseph, Christ's earthly foster-father, the evangelists tell us this one thing without elaboration:  he was "a just man."



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#2
From JoniCath: Thank you, SO MUCH for the post re. the" passion of the infant Christ", Clare. It is beautiful & something I've never thought deeply about before. I think the line:

    These foster-parents of Christ are not those terrible reformers of individual lives who, urged and driven by an unrecognized sense of power or vanity, interfere with people's lives, fumbling at the locked doors of their souls with clumsy fingers, bruising when they touch to heal.
They are, on the contrary, sensitive people who approach others, not with exhortation, but with sympathy, not with self-satisfaction, but with humility..

I have noticed that recently, on Fisheaters,  there are  those who are not satisfied with condemning the sin of homosexual actions, but are condemning the sinners themselves. That is NOT our place. We do not know what is in the heart of another person. Only God can judge a PERSON.

I understand how emotional we can all become about abortion & homosexual acts. . The murder of INFANTS, the perversion of the act that is meant to bring children into this world in the midst of a FAMILY & to give comfort & "oneness" to those who do so. To those who are working hard to raise SOLID, CATHOLIC MEN & WOMEN.. Both the sin of abortion & the sin of homosexual activity are abominations, still we do not have the right nor duty to judge the people involved in the sin.

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#3
Caryll Houselander is a favorite of mine.  I really like her "Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross".
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