Daily Prayer At Saint Laika’s

* Evelyn Underhill *


O Lord Christ, who in this difficult world was tempted in all things, as I am, yet fell into no sin, look pitifully, I pray you, upon me. Guide me with your adorable wisdom. Teach me in everything and in every hour what I ought to do. You alone know both that I suffer and what I need. To you, that perfect path that I should walk is known. Show it to me and teach me how to walk it. Keep me, O Saviour, in body, mind, and spirit, for into your strong and gentle hands I commit myself.

Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray for light and to endure the light here, where I am on this world of yours, which should reflect your beauty but which we have spoiled and exploited. Cast your radiance on the dark places, those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over. Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and achievements, my childish assumptions of importance, my mock heroism. Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live. Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship. Show me my opportunities, the raw material of love, of sacrifice, of holiness, lying at my feet, disguised under homely appearance and only seen as it truly is, in your light. Amen.

( Evelyn Underhill )


You gates of peace and joy untold, you gates of righteousness, unfold,
that I may enter in and raise a song of thankfulness and praise.

Within your gates, O God of grace, your saints shall find a dwelling place;
my thanks and praise to you I bear, my saviour, who has heard my prayer.

What wondrous things the Lord has wrought! The stone the builders set at naught,
established by no human hand, the chiefest cornerstone does stand.

In this the day the Lord has made to him be joyful honours paid;
let us your full salvation see, O Lord, send now prosperity.

Hosanna! Praise to him proclaim who comes now in Jehovah’s name!
May blessing from God’s dwelling place descend on us in boundless grace.

MEDITATION by Tim Madsen

Evelyn Underhill : Martha and Mary combined

Today Saint Laika’s is remembering Evelyn Underhill who was born on the sixth of December, 1875. In 1907 she married Hubert Stuart Moore, a barrister, whom she had known since childhood. They had many interests in common in country life and country lore, and in a love of cats. Initially she considered herself an agnostic, but she was drawn to the Roman Catholic church. This ecclesial wrestling eventually led to her commitment to the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England.

She published one of her most famous works “Mysticism” in 1911. She was convinced that the mystical life is not only open to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience. Overall she authored numerous works on religion and spiritual practice.

She was fond of quoting Saint Teresa’s saying that “to give Our Lord a perfect service Martha and Mary must combine.”

Her days consisted of writing in the morning and in the afternoon she would visit the poor and devote time to the practice of spiritual direction. During the First World War she worked in naval intelligence for the British Admiralty, but after the war, developed into an articulate adherent of pacifism. Her widely read book “Worship” was published in 1936. In 1939 she was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the University of Aberdeen.

Her love of souls coupled with the determination to help them to grow at God’s pace and not at their own or hers, won her the love and trust of all who sought her help and counsel.

She died on the fifteenth of June, 1941.

Quote: “God is always coming to you in the sacrament of the present moment. Meet and receive him there with gratitude in that sacrament.

Scripture: In “Psalm Thirty-Seven,” verses three to five, we read:

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.


We pray…

… for peace in the world.

… that we may develop more spiritual depth in our lives.

… that we may be Christian in both action and word.

… that we may always live fully in both the kingdom of God and the world, citizens of both.

… for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.

… for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.

… for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.

… for ourselves.


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.


From “Mysticism” by Evelyn Underhill:

What is the Unitive Life? We have referred to it often enough in the course of this inquiry. At last we are face to face with the necessity of defining its nature if we can. Since the normal man knows little about his own true personality and nothing at all about that of Deity, the orthodox description of it as “the life in which man’s will is united with God,” does but echo the question in an ampler form, and conveys no real meaning to the student’s mind.

That we should know, by instinct, its character from within (as we know, if we cannot express, the character of our own normal human lives) is of course impossible. We deal here with the final triumph of the spirit, the flower of mysticism, humanity’s top note: the consummation towards which the contemplative life, with its long slow growth and costly training, has moved from the first. We look at a small but ever-growing group of heroic figures, living at transcendent levels of reality which we immersed in the poor life of illusion, cannot attain: breathing an atmosphere whose true quality we cannot even conceive. Here, then, as at so many other points in our study of the spiritual consciousness, we must rely for the greater part of our knowledge upon the direct testimony of the mystics; who alone can tell the character of that “more abundant life” which they enjoy.

Yet we are not wholly dependent on this source of information. It is the peculiarity of the Unitive Life that it is often lived, in its highest and most perfect forms, in the world; and exhibits its works before the eyes of men. As the law of our bodies is “earth to earth” so, strangely enough, is the law of our souls. The spirit of man having at last come to full consciousness of reality, completes the circle of Being; and returns to fertilise those levels of existence from which it sprang. Hence, the enemies of mysticism, who have easily drawn a congenial moral from the “morbid and solitary” lives of contemplatives in the earlier and educative stages of the Mystic Way, are here confronted very often by the disagreeable spectacle of the mystic as a pioneer of humanity, a sharply intuitive and painfully practical person: an artist, a discoverer, a religious or social reformer, a national hero, a “great active” amongst the saints. By the superhuman nature of that which these persons accomplish, we can gauge something of the super-normal vitality of which they partake. The things done, the victories gained over circumstances by Saint Bernard or Saint Joan of Arc, by Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Teresa, George Fox, are hardly to be explained unless these great spirits had indeed a closer, more intimate, more bracing contact than their fellows with that Life “which is the light of men.”

We have, then, these two lines of investigation open to us: first, the comparison and elucidation of that which the mystics tell us concerning their transcendent experience, secondly, the testimony which is borne by their lives to the existence within them of supernal springs of action, contact set up with deep levels of vital power. In the third place, we have such critical machinery as psychology has placed at our disposal; but this, in dealing with these giants of the spirit, must be used with peculiar caution and humility.

The Unitive Life, though so often lived in the world, is never of it. It belongs to another plane of being, moves securely upon levels unrelated to our speech; and hence eludes the measuring powers of humanity. We, from the valley, can only catch a glimpse of the true life of these elect spirits, transfigured upon the mountain. They are far away, breathing another air: we cannot reach them. Yet it is impossible to over-estimate their importance for the race. They are our ambassadors to the Absolute. They vindicate humanity’s claim to the possible and permanent attainment of Reality; bear witness to the practical qualities of the transcendental life. In Eucken’s words, they testify to “the advent of a triumphing Spiritual Power, as distinguished from a spirituality which merely lays the foundations of life or struggles to maintain them” to the actually life-enhancing power of the Love of God, once the human soul is freely opened to receive it.


O God, grant that your church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised us by our Saviour Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


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