Caryll Houselander prayers presented as poems

Holy Spirit of Life!
Come down into our hearts,
that we may live.
Descend into emptiness,
that emptiness
may be filled.
Descend into the dust,
that the dust may flower.
Descend into the dark,
that the light may shine in the darkness.

Be born in us,
Incarnate Love.
Take our flesh and blood,
and give us your humanity;
take our eyes, and give us your vision;
take our minds, and give us your pure thought;
take our feet and set them in your path;
take our hands,
and fold them in your prayer;
take our hearts
and give them your will to love.

By your heaviness and fear
in Gethsemane,
comfort the oppressed
and those who are afraid
By your loneliness,
facing the Passion
while the Apostles slept,
comfort those who face evil alone
while the world sleeps.
By your persistent prayer,
in anguish of anticipation,
strengthen those
who shrink from the unknown.
By your humility,
taking the comfort of angels,
give us grace to help
and to be helped by one another,
and in one another
to comfort you, Jesus Christ.

Nail our hands
in your hands
to the Cross.
Make us take and hold
the hard thing.
Nail our feet,
in your feet
to the Cross,
that they may never
wander away from you.
Make our promises and our vows,
nails that hold us fast,
that even the dead weight of sin,
dragging on the nails
in our last weakness,
may not separate us from you,
but may make us one with you
in your redeeming love.


A young religious maturing

Although I generally manage to keep him at arm’s length, the ‘natural man’ still makes himself felt at times in certain hellish dreams in which I find myself entangled unawares.  In short, I am still the same, a great proud sinner.  What a humbling thought!

And to think that God still bears with me and seems not to notice my sins.  How can I disappoint Him?  Why am I not carried away by the desire to love Him and make Him love me?  The most Holy Virgin of Sorrows weeps because Jesus is not loved but sinned against: perhaps I too make Him weep.  Oh console yourself, Mary, preserve ever alive in me the most burning desire to love your Son and enable me, as far as lies within my power, to soothe your bitter sorrows by drawing souls to Jesus and you.  To obtain your help, I dedicate to you all my actions tomorrow.  Purify them, give them that perfection they so much need, and let the rosary be said at least once as I have never said it yet.

–Angelo Roncalli as a young seminarian, future Pope John XXIII ‘Journal of a Soul’



“O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to be filled with love for You; keep me closely united with You, may my heart be near to Yours. I want to be to You like the apostle John. O Mary of the Rosary, keep me recollected when I say these prayers of yours; bind me forever, with your rosary, to Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed be Jesus, my love..” — Pope John XXIII



Learning of the life of Angelo Roncalli, I am watching a wonderful movie ‘The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII’. The complete immersion within the Church washes over as a cleansing stream of a dream. A little boy committed to becoming a priest, leaving his farming family of many simple siblings and loving parents, ventures to the seminary where he excels in his studies. He walks alone. The romance endures, yet complexities emerge; politics, modernism and the concerns of elevating man; war and souls standing upon a precipice. The intentions of a little boy could never anticipate the world, yet innocence and love prevail within the presence of God. Angelo desired only to return to those he loved, his family and country folk, to return as a priest. God’s call was greater, pulling from the womb of tenant farmers—peasants, a brilliant rustic child, whose mind was only surpassed by his heart. At the age of seventy-six, after a full life as a loved priest, moving through intense political times, remaining devoted to the reality of all men possessing the image and likeness Christ, Angelo is authenticated as Papa. As the Pope, he would guide the Church into Vatican II, navigating all for the salvation of souls. Words as the leader of the Universal Church: ‘The Church should be a garden illuminated by God.’

Modern era Popes

Leo XIII (1878-1903)
St. Pius X (1903-14)
Benedict XV (1914-22)
Pius XI (1922-39)
Pius XII (1939-58)
St. John XXIII (1958-63)
Paul VI (1963-78)
John Paul I (1978)
St. John Paul II (1978-2005)
Benedict XVI (2005-2013)
Francis (2013—)


Working within distractions

Last night and the night before I could not write a thing, because of a violent toothache. Although this gave me the chance to suffer something for Jesus, it also took up too much of my thoughts.

If I had a little peace of mind, tomorrow I should have to submit to those penalties which I laid down for myself, since I have not satisfactorily carried out those two most important practices of piety; the visit and the rosary.

And then, to tell the truth, I might just as well not be taking part in this Novena, I am doing it so badly.

So, more devotion is needed; not great and extraordinary achievements but great perfection in everyday matters and above all union with Jesus, and Mary ever in my thoughts…. ‘Journal of a Soul’ Pope John XXIII

Young Pope John XXIII


Winter: My Secret

a poem by Christina Rossetti

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there’s none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust
March with its peck of dust,
Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost may wither thro’ the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there’s not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess.


Proper religious formation

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the future John XXIII, was born in Sotto il Monte (Bergamo) the 25th of November 1881, the fourth one out of thirteen brothers and sisters and first male in the family. The Roncalli family have a good fame because of their religiosity and the children were educated on the family example: rosary and evening prayers all together, love accompanied the hard work of the fields and helped in the family core. But an exception was made for Angelo Giuseppe: given his deep passion for the study , he could go on studying, first in private, in the care of the Carvico parish priest and then, as an external student, at the Celana College, managing to finish his elementary studies and to do his first studies of the Latin language, so much so, that in the fall of the 1893 , when he was 12 , he could enter the Bergamo Seminary and admitted to the third class of the superior studies. The vocation to the priesthood was natural in the boy and when he was Pontiff , he said. ” that he never doubted that that was his life”, that is, to become a priest.  –website Papa Giovanni

Future pope before the turn of the twentieth century