A while back, I changed the name of my personal blog to ‘The Loveliest Hour‘. I wanted the title to be more specific and meaningful. At the time, I think I envisioned myself writing great commentaries on life and politics and religion and wanted the blog title to be about more than my family. Now, I’m not so sure. I realized that I rarely have a commentary, and when I do, it always sounds better in my head than it does when I put it to paper… so… I still have this new name and I still love it.
But, where did that name come from? From a quote by Caryll Houselander, one of my all-time favorite Catholic writers.
Caryll was born in 1901 in England and died at the age of 53 of breast cancer. Her parents were attractive, high-society Londoners who really didn’t know what to do with their second daughter who was small, sickly and just not very attractive. They divorced the day after her 9th birthday. She was in and out of various boarding schools due to health issues and never completed any sort of formal education.
Caryll attended college on an art scholarship and eventually found her way back to the Church in 1925. She dated Sidney Riley, the famous spy and model for James Bond. He left her to marry someone else and she remained single for the rest of her life.
During the World War II, doctors began sending patients to Houselander for counseling and therapy. Even though she lacked formal education she seemed to have a natural empathy for people in mental anguish and the talent for helping them rebuild their world. The psychiatrist Dr. Eric Strauss, later President of the British Psychological Society, said of Houslander: “she loved them back to life”.
Caryll Houselander was an artist and illustrator. She fed the poor who would come to her door. She was in love with a famous spy. She was immensely shy. She counseled war veterans. She wrote and illustrated children’s stories. She was a woodcarver. She was a recluse. People from all over the world wrote her letters seeking her spiritual counsel.
No wonder Dr. Strauss called her “A Divine Eccentric”.
I see her popularity rising. I’ve read several of her passages as reflections in the Magnificat. Elizabeth Scalia quoted her in a post on Labor Day over at patheos.com. This little, slight, awkward woman in making her mark on souls. I only pray that more of us read her words and are inspired.
In her book, Rocking Horse Catholic, she writes:
“We must carry Jesus in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them. None of us knows when THE LOVELIEST HOUR of our life is striking. It may be when we take Christ for the first time to that grey office in the city where we work, to the wretched lodging of that poor man who is an outcast, to the nursery of that pampered child, to that battleship, airfield…”
That’s where I fell in love with the phrase “the loveliest hour”.
Because, as a mother, a wife, a friend, a Catholic, I never know when the loveliest hour of my life is striking. I may have dozens of such hours. I may have only one. It may have already come… or be 30 years off. But, no matter what, when it is here, I want to be ready for it. And, I think if I live that way… my life will be better. It has to be, right?