Library News – June

If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.” wrote Evelyn Underhill.

I picked up the February newsletter of the St. Edmundsbury Cathedral Library the other day, and found this splendid article by James Knowles.

“Although Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) wrote poetry and novels, she is best remembered for her prolific writings on spirituality and mysticism. Spirituality, contemplative prayer, and mysticism have always been part or Roman Catholic personal devotion, but until the early 20th century, the Church of England and other Protestant traditions had viewed them with suspicion. Through her writings, she was instrumental in changing this. As well as being an author, she was much in demand as a retreat conductor, and in promoting the retreat movement, which is now part of mainstream Anglicanism. She was the first woman to be invited to be a member of the theological faculty of Oxford University.

Evelyn Underhill played down the popular view of mysticism, as being airy-fairy, about trances, ecstasies, and abnormal states of consciousness. She promoted the normal life of the Spirit, which for her, was centred on regular prayer, and lived in the here and now but developed not by hiding from the world, rather in service to it.

The spiritual life of individuals has to be extended both vertically to God and horizontally to other souls; and the more it grows in both directions, the less merely individual and therefore more truly personal it will become.’”

Our church Library has several of Evelyn Underhill’s books, on the Prayer and Meditation shelves. We have “The Spiritual Life”, “The Life of the Spirit and the Life of Today”,”Worship”, “Practical Mysticism”, and an anthology “The Love of God”.

Read her and be refreshed…

Rosemary Smith

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