Evelyn Underhill

Evelyn
Underhill
1875
1941

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist

Author Quotes

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him.

In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram —impersonal and unattainable—the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.

There is no need for peculiar conditions in order to grow in the spiritual life, for the pressure of God's Spirit is present everywhere and at all times. Our environment itself -- our home and our job -- is the medium through which we experience His molding action and His besetting loveÂ… And this quality of quietness, ordinariness, simplicity, with which the saving action of God enters history, endures from the beginning to the end.

When you let intuition have its way with you, you open up new levels of the world. Such opening-up is the most practical of all activities.

"I come to seek God because I need Him," may be an adequate formula for prayer. "I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet," is the only possible formula for worship.

For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us everyday

Living in the present means squarely accepting and responding to it as God's moment for you now while it is called "today" rather than wishing it were yesterday or tomorrow.

There is no place in my soul, no corner of my character, where God is not.

Words are merely carriers of the secret, supernatural communications, the light and call of God. That is why spiritual books bear such different meanings for different types and qualities of soul, why each time we read them they give us something fresh, as we can bear it.

A simple rule, to be followed whether one is in the light or not, gives backbone to one's spiritual life, as nothing else can.

Formal prayer is a practical device, not a spiritual necessity. It makes direct suggestions to our souls: it reminds us of realities which we always tend to forget.

Love... makes the whole difference between an execution and a martyrdom.

Therefore it is to a practical mysticism that the practical man is here invited: to a training of his latent faculties, a bracing and brightening of his languid consciousness, an emancipation from the fetters of appearance, a turning of his attention to new levels of the world. Thus he may become aware of the universe which the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception—this ordinary contemplation, as the specialists call it—is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician.

You can also offer your prayers, obedience, and endurance of dryness to Our Lord, for the good of other souls, and then you have practiced intercession. Never mind if it all seems for the time very second-hand. The less you get out of it, the nearer it approaches to being something worth offering; and the humiliation of not being able to feel as devout as we want to be, is excellent for most of us. Use vocal prayer... very slowly, trying to realize the meaning with which it is charged and remember that... you are only a unit in the Chorus of the Church, so that the others will make good the shortcomings you cannot help.

A spiritual life is simply a life in which all that we do comes from the centre, where we are anchored in God: a life soaked through and through by a sense of His reality and claim, and self-given to the great movement of his will.

God is acting on your soul all the time, whether you have spiritual sensations or not.

Many a congregation when it assembles in church must look to the angels like a muddy, puddly shore at low tide; littered with every kind of rubbish and odds and ends --a distressing sort of spectacle. And then the tide of worship comes in, and it's all gone: the dead sea-urchins and jelly-fish, the paper and the empty cans and the nameless bits of rubbish. The cleansing sea flows over the whole lot. So we are released from a narrow, selfish outlook on the universe by a common act of worship. Our little human affairs are reduced to their proper proportion when seen over against the spaceless Majesty and Beauty of God.

This is the secret of joy. We shall no longer strive for our own way; but commit ourselves, easily and simply, to God's way, acquiesce in His will, and in so doing find our peace.

You don't have to be peculiar to find God.

Adoration is caring for God above all else.

God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.

Many people seem to think that the spiritual life necessarily requires a definite and exacting plan of study. It does not. But it does require a definite plan of life; and courage in sticking to the plan, not for merely days or weeks, but for years.

This longing, this need of God, however dimly and vaguely we feel it, is the seed from which grows the strong, beautiful and fruitful plant of prayer.

All men, at one time or another, have fallen in love with the veiled Isis whom they call Truth. With most, this has been a passing passion: they have early seen its hopelessness and turned to more practical things. But others remain all their lives the devout lovers of reality: though the manner of their love, the vision which they make to themselves of the beloved object varies enormously. Some see Truth as Dante saw Beatrice: an adorable yet intangible figure, found in this world yet revealing the next. To others she seems rather an evil but an irresistible enchantress: enticing, demanding payment and betraying her lover at the last. Some have seen her in a test tube, and some in a poetÂ’s dream: some before the altar, others in the slime. The extreme pragmatists have even sought her in the kitchen; declaring that she may best be recognized by her utility. Last stage of all, the philosophic sceptic has comforted an unsuccessful courtship by assuring himself that his mistress is not really there.

God is much in the difficult home problems as in the times of quiet and prayer.

Author Picture
First Name
Evelyn
Last Name
Underhill
Birth Date
1875
Death Date
1941
Bio

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist