"Dear children! I am calling you to the love of neighbor and love toward the one from whom evil comes to you. In that way with love you will be able to discern the intentions of hearts. Pray and love, dear children! By love you are able to do even that which you think is impossible. Thank you for having responded to my call." (November 7, 1985)
We are living in a time of growing anxiety and fear of the future. The world seems to have gone off balance. The weather is severe and threatening. The economy is floundering. Nations are collapsing, and revolutions are taking place. Families are in crisis, and even the Church is suffering from scandal and disunity. All of these things are far too big for an individual to comprehend much less impact.
I have been reading the collected letters of Caryll Houselander. Some of them were written at the beginning of World War II and they carry in them a very similar sense of chaos and helplessness, fear and doom. Surely the average person felt paralyzed in the face of a world war. And yet Caryll found the way to faith, hope and love in the midst of it all.
Here are excerpts from a two letters Caryll wrote to Baroness Bosch van Drakestein in 1939. They speak as much to us today as they did to her friends in prewar England:
All that I can see clear is that the time now has come when everybody is offered a chance of living the Christ-life and contemplating Him directly, and how well this is done will not depend on their understanding of it, but on their doing of it...
It seems to me that what matters is to create in this world a force of love strong enough to combat that of hate - and more particularly of fear.
If we are ever to come back to the lovely morning of Christianity, we must not do it by waiting for the war to end; it has to be done now, through love. If each individual can put into her personal life an unstinted, absolute love, then already out of these dark days Christ will be reborn.
I do so agree with you that the official hate propaganda is one of the very greatest tragedies of war, and there ought to be a continual quiet resistance of it, where met. I do not think, however, that one will prevail much on those who feel such a hate by trying to make them think kindly of Hitler: but if, day after day, love grows in the individual heart, it will both keep alive that heart and wipe out all elements of hate. There is not room for love and hate in one heart....
I have two ideas which I'd like to carry out. One I have mentioned here and there and several persons are eager to cooperate, but I do not know if they have the financial means.
One is to make some nice "holy cards," and on the back to print some words of Our Lord about peace and love, or any other words likely to show that Christians desire peace and love and do not foster hatred: and to have these words printed in English, French, German, Polish and Russian. These holy cards I intend to be circulated among the troops; they could be given to men going to the front and to nurses and so on, and I hope they might come into the hands of the enemy, through prisoners, etc. This is a small thing, but it would be a word of love among Christians - and the war of wars now is between love and every other force in the world...
The other thing I'd like would be to take some hoardings, or anywhere suitable, and put up some religious posters - only the simplest things, no abstract ideas, only things that people, wall people, can see and understand. For example, Our Lady with her child, and a prayer to our Mother to look after all her children: the Holy Child, and a prayer for the spirit of childhood to come back to us: and again, the crucifix. Also, if it were possible, some of the crucifixes inside air raid shelters - though I dare say the Government would not allow the latter.
We could do so much in a silent way, without any self-advertisement or beastly "propaganda" spirit, to bring just the simple, comforting things of faith before people's eyes. And God knows there is need. Preaching is more hateful than ever, but who could not be glad to be reminded, silently, by a picture, that we have a mother, that she can and will care for all mother's sons?...(The Letters of Caryll Houselander, Her Spiritual Legacy. Edited by Maisie Ward. 1965. P. 29-32)
Our Lady has been creating a "force of love" in the world through Medjugorje. And she has been present to us in that little village as the Mother who can and will care for us and all our children in these difficult days. Caryll was right, that it is only love in the hearts of each individual that will actually change the world. As Our Lady says: "Pray and love, dear children! By love you are able to do even that which you think is impossible." We may be facing impossible difficulties today, but through love and prayer we can make a change.