Evelyn Underhill


English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist

Author Quotes

As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone—though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men—so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.

He goes because he must, as Galahad went towards the Grail: knowing that for those who can live it, this alone is life.

Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.

Those who complain that they make no progress in the life of prayer because they cannot meditate should examine, not their capacity for meditation, but their capacity for suffering and love. For there is a hard and costly element, a deep seriousness, a crucial choice, in all genuine religion.

As the genuine religious impulse becomes dominant, adoration more and more takes charge. I come to seek God because I need Him, may be an adequate formula for prayer. I come to adore His splendor, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet, is the only possible formula for worship.

History looks glorious in retrospect; but it is made up of constant hard choices and unattractive tasks, accepted under the pressure of the Will of God.

Spiritual reading is a regular, essential part of the life of prayer, and particularly is it the support of adoring prayer. It is important to increase our sense of God's richness and wonder by reading what his great lovers have said about him.

Towards my husband, I often fail to show interest in his affairs and amusements, not rousing myself to respond when I'm tired or concerned with other things, forgetting he is very patient with me.

As to deliberate mortifications -- I take it you do feel satisfied that you accept fully those God sends. That being so, you might perhaps do one or two little things, as acts of love, and also as discipline. I suggest by preference the mortification of the tongue -- as being very tiresome and quite harmless to the health. Careful guard on all amusing criticisms of others, on all complaints however casual or trivial.

I come in the little things, Saith the Lord: Not borne on morning wings of majesty, but I have set my feet amidst the delicate and bladed wheat That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod. There do I dwell, in weakness and in power; not broken or divided, saith our God! In your strait garden plot I come to flowers about your porch my vine, meek, fruitful, doth entwine; waits, at the threshold, Love's appointed hour. I come in the little things, saith the Lord: Yea! On the glancing wings of eager birds, the softly pattering feet of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet Your hear and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes that peep from out the brake, I stand confest. On every nest where feathery patience is content to brood and leaves her pleasure for the high emprize of motherhood -- There doth My Godhead rest. I come in the little things, Saith the Lord.

The business and method of mysticism is love.

Try to arrange things so that you can have a reasonable bit of quiet every day.

Books, said St. Augustine after his conversion, could not teach me charity. We still keep on thinking they can. We do not realize... the utter distinctness of God and the things of God. Psychology of religion cannot teach us prayer, and ethics cannot teach us loveÂ… Team games are compulsory in the school of Divine Love -- there is no getting into a corner with a nice, spiritual book.

If , then, we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquility, gentleness and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything that is based on the loftiness of our religious notions, or fervor of our religious feelings.

The first question here, then, is not "What is best for my soul?" nor is it even "What is most useful to humanity?" But--transcending both these limited aims--what function must this life fulfill in the great and secret economy of God?

Two movements merge in the real act of communion. First, the creature's profound sense of need, of incompleteness: its steadfast desire... Next, a humble and loving acceptance of God's answer to that prayer of desire, however startling, disappointing, and unappetizing it may be.

By the quality of our inner lives I do not mean something characterized by ferocious intensity and strain. I mean rather such a humble and genial devotedness as we find in the most loving of the saints. I mean the quality which makes contagious.. the love of God from you.

If there is a symbol of our age, perhaps it is something that every factory worker does each day of their working lives -- I refer to clocking in. (Very soon probably they won't even have to do that; the clock will itself observe them by radar.) In the ancient world when a person entered a temple, each made a votive offering to a god or a goddess at the door. As twentieth century people file into their shrines, they obediently pay their due to the god that regulates their lives -- the clock. It is the clock that measures us, that silent witness that keeps our going in and our coming out and relentlessly records our every movement. That is where all our organization and machinery to free us from time, to save us time, has brought us. Never before have we had such control over things, and never before have we been so enslaved by them. And of nothing is this more true than of time.

The offertory is the first essential action of the Liturgy, because in it we make the costly and solemn oblation, under tokens, of our very selves and all our substance; that they may be transformed, quickened, and devoted to the interests of God.

We have descended into the garden and caught 300 slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike.

Deliberately seek opportunities for kindness, sympathy, and patience.

If we do not at least try to manifest something of Creative Charity in our dealings with life, whether by action, thought, or prayer, and do it at our own cost -- if we roll up the talent of love in the nice white napkin of piety and put it safely out of the way, sorry that the world is so hungry and thirsty, so sick and so fettered, and leave it at that: then, even that little talent may be taken from us. We may discover at the crucial moment that we are spiritually bankrupt.

The purifying worth of prayer consists in the increasing contrast which it sets up between the holy God and the creature; subordinating that creature's fugitive activities and desires to the standard set by this solemn apprehension of Reality.

We must get rid of the pestilent, deadly notion that the amount of things we get through is the standard. The steadiness with which we radiate God is the standard.

Delicate humor is the crowning virtue of the saints.

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English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist