Call to the Inner Life – Remembering Evelyn Underhill

Today the Episcopal Church remembers Evelyn Underhill. This post is from three years ago. However, the truth of Underhill’s words echo loudly. The Church needs more voices like hers and more lives, lay and ordained, like she describes.

Interrupting the Silence

Sometime around 1931 Evelyn Underhill wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang (1928-1942), about the inner life of the clergy. Her concern was that the multiplicity of the clergy’s duties had underhilldiminished some priests’ grounding in a life of prayer.

Underhill’s concerns are as relevant today, perhaps more so, as they were when she wrote the letter. However, we should not limit her concerns and proposals to only the clergy. They are equally applicable to the laity. The life of the Church and the life of humanity, lay or ordained, must begin within and arise out of a life of prayer.

The following are excerpts from her letter:

  • “Call the clergy as a whole, solemnly and insistently to a greater interiority and cultivation of the personal life of prayer.”
  • “The real failures, difficulties and weaknesses of the Church are spiritual and can only be remedied by…

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  1. …great post…its not often that we hear a Priest advocating the interior spirituality of the likes of Evelyn Underhill..I applaud you…my own journey with/in Christ has led me inward into the silence..I had no idea of what and how much i was missing out on…


    1. If priests and the Church have no interior life then we have nothing to offer the world. My own prejudice is that the future of the Church depends on recovering the inner life. That has to include intentional silence.



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