The most universal suffering...today is the sense of personal futility: faced with the huge burden of the world's suffering we feel helpless to help at all.
This sense of futility is brought home to us whenever we come face to face even with one person's grief. What, for example, can we say or do when a friend is bereaved of his child? Nothing at all, it seems.
This feeling has become aggravated by the fact that the need to "do something" has become almost a disease. Very often too it is only an escape from realizing our own futility, or worse, an escape from being something. Many little groups that do things, though not necessarily the right things, become pigmy worlds, in which the universe is lost sight of, and the doing is valued not by its effect on the whole world, but by the accumulation of fuss that can be crowded into one day's activity. But mercifully many people have no opportunity even for such escapes, and become hopelessly discouraged by their limitation of circumstance, ability, energy, opportunity, environment, so that the suffering which used to be particularly that of old or invalid people is spreading among everyone like a disease. "What," they ask, "have I got?: "What can I do?"
Everyone has a body. Everyone can make the prayer of the body. It is a total act of love for the world. It is a searching contemplation of Christ.
It is possible for everyone, always, if they have a body. It means offering our bodies as a sacrifice for mankind. It needs no sweet meditation, no eloquence of words, no sensible fervor. It can be made in aridity, weariness, dullness, boredom, pain, in temptation, in any circumstances at all by anyone.
Caryll Houselander. "Reaching Out to the Widow of Nain in Our Midst." excerpt from The Risen Christ (Sheed and Ward, New York, 1958).
Reproduced by kind permission of Continuum International Publishing Group, a Bloomsbury Company.
Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) was a British Roman Catholic laywoman; a mystic, writer, artist, visionary and healer. Her first book, This War is the Passion, written during World War II, launched her prolific writing career. She is best known for: A Rocking Horse Catholic, The Reed of God, The Way of the Cross, This War is the Passion, The Risen Christ, The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy, and Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross: The Little Way of the Infant Jesus.Copyright © 1958 Caryll Houselander
back to top