Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)

150604_saintsSpiritual Writer and Mystic, celebrated by the Church on June 15

Evelyn was born in Wolverhampton, England, raised in the Church of England, and well educated. As with most people, her growth and awareness of her life as a mystic was slow and gradual, the difference being as she became aware of her calling, she took ownership of it and grew into the deeper journey with God. She realized the mystical experience was not just for the few, the “special and chosen people,” but is the birthright of every human (I think all of creation!)—union with the Sacred, with God. She believed and taught this, and it was the groundwork for the spiritual writing and direction she did.

Like all of us, she had questions—she struggled for fifteen years with the temptation to leave her Anglican heritage and become a Roman. At the end of this spiritual struggle, she realized her life as an Anglican did not preclude her roots as a catholic and adapted a spiritual life in line with her Anglo-Catholic heart. I know we sometimes joke about “smells and bells” and who is “high church.” There is much to be said for life beyond the logical and linear, a spiritual life that uses all of our senses and mental powers. Evelyn was ahead of her time recognizing the role psychology plays in the spiritual life. As we become more aware of the Body, Mind, and Spirit, we now know our physiology plays a major role as well.

Watch for an announcement of a Saturday workshop on Christian spiritual life entitled “Everyday Mystics” to be offered this summer at St. Dustan’s! It is based in the book What the Mystics Know by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan author and spiritual guide. We will explore ways that we live in the Presence of the Holy in everyday life.

See you next week,

I am your bro.
John, O.C.P.

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