Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Rule of Life

Last weekend while in Victoria, BC, I visited an Anglican Church and heard a Sermon on "Commitment". The parishioners were being exhorted to adhere to the following "Rule" from the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church of Canada (1962 edition):

"Every Christian man or woman should from time to time frame for himself a RULE OF LIFE in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel and the faith and order of the Church; wherein he may consider the following:
-The regularity of his attendance at public worship and especially at the Holy Communion.
-The practice of private prayer, Bible-reading, and self-discipline.
-Bringing the teaching and example of Christ into his everyday life.
-The boldness of his spoken witness to his faith in Christ.
-His personal service to the Church and the community.
-The offering of money according to his means for the support of the work of the Church at home and overseas."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Evelyn Underhill: Anglican Mystic

A brief review of the book, "The Spiritual Life", by Evelyn Underhill.

Evelyn Underhill was one of the great lay Anglican thinkers of the first half of the 20th century, a group that includes T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton (prior to his conversion to Rome).

Her book "The Spiritual Life" was originally part of a series of broadcasts made prior to World War II. She published them in book form, in order to "present some of the great truths concerning man's spiritual life in simple language." She thoroughly and eloquently achieves her goal.

The main thesis of the book is the unification of all of the various compartments of our life (familial, political, personal) in love and service of God. The essence of The Spiritual Life is complete conformity to the will of God, and the abandonment of all that is self-willed and self-seeking.

The present edition is an attractive reprint by Morehouse Publishing, and is part of its "Continuum Imprint" series, a series of reprints of great Anglican classics. I used Underhill's "The Spiritual Life" as the text of our 2006 Parish Retreat, and although it was a challenging read (definitely 'steak', as opposed to, 'hot dogs'), it was very well received.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is as follows: "We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual--even on the religious--plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of a spiritual life."