Thursday, February 17, 2011

Evelyn Underhill's Letter to Archbishop Lang, 1930

I came across this lately. Perhaps it's just more preaching to the choir, but it seems it's worth yet another gander and mention here:

We look to the clergy to help and direct our spiritual growth. We are seldom satisfied because with a few noble exceptions they are so lacking in spiritual realism, so ignorant of the laws and experiences of the life of prayer. Their Christianity as a whole is humanitarian rather than theocentric. So their dealings with souls are often vague and amateurish. Those needing spiritual help may find much kindliness, but seldom that firm touch of firsthand knowledge of interior ways which comes only from a disciplined personal life of prayer. In public worship they often fail to evoke the spirit of adoration because they do not possess it themselves...

They [the bishops] should call upon every ordained clergyman, as an essential part of his pastoral duty and not merely for his own sake: (a) To adopt a rule of life which shall include a fixed daily period of prayer and reading of a type that feeds, pacifies and expands his soul, and deepens his communion with God; b) To make an annual retreat; (c) To use every endeavor to make his church into a real home of prayer and teach his people, both by exhortation and example so to use it.

See more here.

Underhill's critique wouldn't hurt so much if it were not so true. We might think about our spiritual life if and when there's a crisis of some sort. Yet, it is important enough to put on the front burner now, not only for personal benefit, but also, for those who receive our ministry. For those who direct others in the spiritual life, also need and require the benefit of spiritual direction.

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