A mystic of the ordinary

A few months ago I read a collection of writings of the English mystic Caryll Houselander, who died on October 12, 1954. I was knocked off my feet.

Here is a woman who could see the reality of God in everything, especially in the ordinary events and things of daily life. Even more she has a deep sense of the presence of God in the sacraments and in the sacramental nature of all creation.

The passage that has remained with me comes from her autobiography, A Rocking-Horse Catholic:

I was in an underground train, a crowded train in which all sorts of people jostled together, sitting and strap-hanging — workers of every description going home at the end of the day. Quite suddenly I saw with my mind, but as vividly as a wonderful picture, Christ in them all. But I saw more than that: not only was Christ in every one of them, living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them — but because He was in them, and because they were here, the whole world was here too, here in this underground train; not only the world as it was at that moment, not only all the people in all the countries of the world, but all those people who had lived in the past, and all those yet to come. I came out into the street and walked for a long time in the crowds. It was the same here, on every side, in every passer-by, everywhere — Christ.

Christ is in everyone
— not only in those I love, but in those who are my enemies,
— not only in those who agree with me, but in those whose opinions I reject,
— not only in those who pray as I do, but in those who pray differently or not at all,
— not only in the just and good, but in the criminal,
— and present even in me.

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