Evelyn Underhill

Evelyn
Underhill
1875
1941

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist

Author Quotes

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.

If you have made a decision, and you still feel, taking it all in all, it was the right one, then don't look over your shoulder on what might have been. If it was wrong, ask for forgiveness and accept the present consequences, happily and without remorse. Nothing is more corrosive of the powers you should be using to meet the present.

The spiritual life is a stern choice. It is not a consoling retreat from the difficulties of existence, but an invitation to enter fully into that difficult existence, and there apply the Charity of God, and bare the cost.

We spend most of our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do.

Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.

In my relations with my father, which are difficult and where I'm often met by coolness and indifference, I am constantly tempted to be cold and indifferent. Yet I know that this is a test if I could take it rightly.

The will is what matters - as long as you have that, you are safe.

When we look out towards this love that moves the stars and stirs in the child's heart and claims our total allegiance, and remember that this alone is Reality and we are only real so far as we conform to its demands, we see our human situation from a fresh angle; and we perceive that it is both more humble and dependent, and more splendid, than we had dreamed. We are surrounded and penetrated by great spiritual forces of which we hardly know anything. Yet the outward events of our life cannot be understood, except in their relation to that unseen and intensely living world, the Infinite Charity which penetrates and supports us, the God whom we resist and yet for whom we thirst; who is ever at work, transforming the self-centered desire of the natural creature into the wide spreading, outpouring love of the citizen of Heaven.

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.

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

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist