ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Spiritual Life—Begin With Objective Fact

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Spiritual Life—Begin With Objective Fact

From The School of Charity

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 bear the cost.  Till we accept this truth, religion is full of puzzles for us, and its practices often unmeaning: for we do not know what it is all about.  So there are few things more bracing and enlightening than a deliberate resort to some basic statement about God, the world, and the soul; testing by them our attitude to those realities, and the quality and vigor of our interior life with God.  For every one of them has a direct bearing on that interior life.  Lex credendi, lex orandi [the law of praying is the law of believing].  Our prayer and belief should fit like hand and glove; they are the inside and outside of one single correspondence with God.

Since the life of prayer consists in an ever-deepening communion with a Reality beyond ourselves, which is truly there, and touches, calls, attracts us, what we believe about that Reality will rule our relation to it.  We do not approach a friend and a machine in the same way.  We make the first and greatest of our mistakes in religion when we begin with ourselves, our petty feelings and needs, ideas, and capacities.  The Creed sweeps us up past all this to God, the objective Fact, and his mysterious self-giving to us.  It sets first Eternity and then History before us, as the things that truly matter in religion; and shows us a humble and adoring delight in God as the first duty of the believing soul.  So there can hardly be a better inward discipline than the deliberate testing of our vague, dilute, self-occupied spirituality by this superb vision of Reality.




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