Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lit Up With the Flame of Love

Caryll Houselander: An Appreciation

by Robin Maas

(excerpt from article)

"...With Houselander we see that neither celibacy nor physical barrenness need be an obstacle to fruitful mothering. Therefore, all women-in whatever state of life-can take heart and hope in her spiritual teaching; for she where the rest of us can only trust, that the other, the "little one" is within; that the growth of the infant grace in our own souls requires "mothering." The same conditions required for a biological pregnancy obtain in relation to the implantation of sanctifying grace in each one of us: a receptivity that has the quality of virginal emptiness; the fertility that springs from desire; freely-given consent; the overshadowing from something, beyond required for conception; a long and hidden gestation; and painful but efficacious labor pains.

What we bring forth, initially, is small and vulnerable; but if we supply its basic necessities it will grow into something that is destined to "mystify" us because it exceeds all expectation. Just as our own offspring eventually loom over us and leave our domain to create lives and families of their own, the spiritual mystery we give birth to will eventually surpass us, move out beyond us, and reach further than we could hope to reach ourselves. The divine life taking flesh within us has the potential to a surprise both us and the world.

It is, in fact, God made man that sacramentalizes not only all matter but maternity itself. It is the incarnation of God that makes possible the priesthood as we know it. the Word has become flesh, bread and wine can become the enfleshed Word, and the binding of Christ in the Eucharist makes every one, says Houselander, a "priest" because "everyone can offer the Body of Christ on the altar of his own life. But the offering must be the offering of a human being who is intensely alive, a potent humanness, great sorrow and great joy, a life lit up with the flame of Love, fierce fasts and thirsts and feasts of sheer joy...."

(read entire article at link above)