Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Evelyn Underhill on the Sacramental Principle

"It is true that at bottom worship is a spiritual activity; but we are not pure spirits, and therefore we cannot expect to do it in purely spiritual ways. That is the lesson of the Incarnation. Thus liturgies, music, symbols, sacraments, devotional attitudes and acts have their rightful part to play in the worshipping life; and it is both shallow and arrogant to reject them en masse and assume that there is something particularly religious in leaving out the senses when we turn to God. Through such use of the senses man can receive powerful religious suggestions, and by their help can impregnate an ever wider area of his life and consciousness with the spirit of adoration. If music is something that may awaken the awed awareness of the Holy, if pictures can tell us secrets that are beyond speech, if food and water, fragrance and lights, all bear with them a memory of sacred use - then the ordinary deeds of secular life will become more and more woven into the seamless robe that veils the Glory of God. But this will not happen unless the sacramental principle - the principle of the spiritual significance of visible deeds and things - has a definite expression in our organized religious life."

1 comment:

bob said...

An 86 year old Episcopal priest explained just about the same thing to me years ago. He said that the way to understand sacramental worship is that if you don't worship God *some* time you won't worship God *any* time. If you don't do that *some* place you won't do it *any* place, if you don't find God in *some* one you won't find Him in *any* one....Etc. We aren't disembodied angelic beings, not meant to be. God already has angels. Nobody actually "worships God in the wilderness, in the cathedral of his great outdoors" on a hike Sunday morning. We need particularity to be humans and worship God.