Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Evelyn Underhill Made Me Catholic

(One of my favorite quotes by Evelyn Underhill)
From The Spiritual Life
Hodder & Stoughton

[The Spiritual Life] consists in being drawn, at His pace and in His way, to the place where He wants us to be; not the place we fancied for ourselves. (39)
-Evelyn Underhill

If you follow Catholic by Grace articles or blog postings, you know how much I love St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

But how did this Protestant preacher's kid stumble upon these two great Saints?

A long time ago, I read a series by Susan Howatch. It was part of the research I did for an article on Christian fiction (for Protestant venues) - and Susan Howatch had this habit of posting a quote at the beginning of each chapter. While the series was pure fiction, the quotes were by real people. One of her "quotables" came from an Anglican by the name of Evelyn Underhill. After I finished the series, I went looking for books by Underhill.

I found it interesting that Underhill had great affection for contemplatives, and she kept mentioning someone by the name of St. John of the Cross. So, after I read Howatch, I went to Underhill. After I read Underhill, I went to St. John of the Cross. And after I read St. John of the Cross, I went to St. Teresa of Avila.

And then, I went to the doors of the Catholic Church and asked that life-changing question. "How does one become Catholic. . . because I think that's what I'm supposed to be doing right about now."

*Another interesting fact about Evelyn Underhill is that she wanted to become Catholic, but at the request of her Anglican husband, she did not follow through on this desire. Thankfully, my husband did not stand in my way. And a few years later, he made the journey Home as well.


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