ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: A Plan Of Life

From The Spiritual Life

It is this constant correlation between inward and outward that really matters; and this has always been the difficulty for human beings, because there are two natures in us, pulling different ways, and their reconciliation is a long and arduous task.  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 merely for days or weeks, but for years.  New mental and emotional habits must be formed, all our interests rearranged in new proportion round a new center.  This is something which cannot be hurried; but, unless we take it seriously, can be infinitely delayed.  Many people suggest by their behavior that God is of far less importance than their bath, morning paper, or early cup of tea.  The life of cooperation with him must begin with a full and practical acceptance of the truth that God alone matters; and that he, the Perfect, always desires perfection.  Then it will inevitably press us to begin working for perfection; first in our own characters and actions, next in our homes, surroundings, profession, and country.  We must be prepared for the fact that even on small and personal levels this will cost a good deal; frequently thwarting our own inclinations and demanding real sacrifice.

Here the further question of the relation of spiritual life to public life and politics comes in.  It must mean, for all who take it seriously, judging public issues from the angle of eternity, never from that of national self-interest or expediency; backing our conviction, as against party of prejudice, rejecting compromise, and voting only for those who adopt this disinterested point of view.  Did we act thus, slowly, but surely a body of opinion – a spiritual party, if you like – might be formed; and in the long run make its influence felt in the State.  But such a program demands much faith, hope, and charity; and courage too.


perfection

 

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