EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: The Incarnation by Evelyn Underhill

EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: The Incarnation by Evelyn Underhill

From Worship

It is plain that such a religion as Christianity, which has for its object the worship of the Divine self-revealed in history, the Logos incarnate in time and space – which seeks and finds God self-given, in and through the littleness of the manger, and the shamefulness of the Cross – is closely bound up with a sacramental interpretation of life.  Christ, as Bérulle said so deeply and so boldly, is “Himself the major sacrament”; the visible sign of the nature of the Eternal God, and the medium of that Eternal God’s self-giving to men.  And the church, as His mystical body, the organ of His continued presence, lives with a sacramental life from which the reality and power of the specific Christian sacraments proceed, and which indeed gives to them their credentials.  This precision, this apparent canalizing of a grace and power which are felt by the religious soul to be boundless in generosity and unconditioned in action, and operative throughout the whole of life, repels many spiritual minds.  They can easily accept a diffused sacramentalism; but reject the notion of a special and ordained channel of grace.  Nevertheless, the distinctness of the Holy will never be sufficiently realized by us, unless His self-giving be apprehended as coming to man the creature in a special sense by particular paths; held sacred, and kept for Himself alone.  And this means sacraments.  The deep conviction of the Platonist that everything is a shadow and outward sign of a deeper and more enduring reality, is indeed precious as far as it goes; and is justified in those rare moments when the lovely veil is lifted and we catch a glimpse of greater loveliness behind.  But this can never be enough for Christianity; which discloses a real God to real men by means of a real life and death in space and time.  And here the law of belief must be the law of worship too.

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