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Vigilant through Our Trials


During the war I was simply terrified by air raids, and it was my lot to be in every one that happened in London.


Stop trying to think out a solution for the moment:  there isn't one.  One day there may be;  God will then show it to you.  In the meantime, accept it all as being the big thing for and his Church that he asks of you — that, and the depression too.

You will find the relief of merely accepting, instead of struggling, wonderful;  and I include in this, accepting anything in yourself, during the crisis, which seems to you a failure or fault.  Don't exonerate yourself, but just say you are sorry, briefly, to God, and add that your name is dirt — that's what is to be expected from you — but you're sorry, you are forgiven, and it is over.

During the war I was simply terrified by air raids, and it was my lot to be in every one that happened in London — sometimes on the roofs of these flats, sometimes in the hospital ... I tried to build up my courage by reason and prayer, etc.

Then one day I realized quite suddenly:  As long as I try not to be,afraid I shall be worse, and I shalt show it one day and break;  what God is asking of me, to do for suffering humanity, is to be afraid, to accept it and put up with it, as one has to put up with pain (if it's not druggable) or anything else.  I am not going to get out of any of the suffering.  From the time the siren goes until the All Clear, I am going to be simply frightened stiff, and that's what I've got to do for the world — offer that to God, because it is that and nothing else which he asks of me.



Caryll Houselander. "Vigilant through Our Trials." excerpt from The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy (Sheed and Ward, New York, 1965).

Reproduced by kind permission of Continuum International Publishing Group, a Bloomsbury Company. This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in October 2012.


The Author

house1house2Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) was a British Roman Catholic laywoman; a mystic, writer, artist, visionary and healer. Born in London in 1901, Caryll was the second of two daughters born to Willmott and Gertrude (nee Provis) Houselander. Her first book, This War is the Passion, written during World War II, launched her prolific writing career. Houselander's talents included painting and many woodcarvings. Caryll's "divinely eccentric" life was principally a devotion to contemplating Christ in all and men and women and in all life circumstances.  Maisie Ward (a friend of Caryll and author of her principal biography, Caryll Houselander; That Divine Eccentric) states, "Her message can be summed in a single sentence; we must learn to see Christ in everyone."  Msgr. Ronald Knox was quoted as saying about Caryll's writing style, " . . . she seemed to see everything for the first time and the driest of doctrinal considerations shone out like a restored picture when she finished it."  Caryll Houselander has been described as being a mystic in the tradition of Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Avila. She is best known for her works: A Rocking Horse Catholic, The Reed of God, The Way of the Cross, This War is the Passion, The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy, and her book of poetry The Flowering Tree.

Copyright © 1965 Caryll Houselander
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