Friday, January 3, 2014

"Awestruck adoration and penitent love, humble demand and inward assurance...."

From Evelyn Underhill's 1936 book, Worship, on what the Incarnation means for the "various phases of our human experience":
Again, Christian worship in its fulness should include and harmonize all the various phases of our human experience. It has room for the extremes of awestruck adoration and penitent love, humble demand and inward assurance. All levels of life and action are relevant to it; for they are covered and sanctified by the principle of incarnation. It can therefore weave every detail of the daily routine into the devotional life. It is thoroughly sacramental; and shows its true quality, not by an increasing abstraction and other-worldliness, but by an ever-deepening recognition of the sacredness and inexhaustible meaning of homely things. Especially a deep realism as regards human imperfection and sin, and also human suffering and struggle, is at the very heart of the Christian response to God; which if it is to tally with the Christian revelation of disinterested love as summed up in the Cross, must include the element of hardness, cost, and willing pain. It is this sacrificial suffering, this deliberate endurance of hardship for the sake of the Unseen, which gives nobility and depth to worship. The costly renunciations and total self-stripping of the consecrated life contribute something to the Church's oblation, without which her reasonable and holy sacrifice would not be complete. The "altar of the Cross" is no idle phrase; but reminds us that Christianity is a sacrificial religion, and that Christian worship is unintelligible if we eliminate the tension which is inherent in it, and the unconditioned self-offering by which it is crowned.

From all this it follows that the demand for a purely spiritual cultus is one that can never be made by Christianity; commmited by its very nature to a belief in the visible as vehicle of the invisible - to history, personality, sacraments, and sensible signs, as channels of God's communion with man, and body as well as soul as part of man's offering to God

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