Vigils Reading

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Vigils Reading

February 27, 2023

I Ask Not for Thy Gifts but for Thyself
An Excerpt from “Meditations and Prayers” by Evelyn Underhill

Adoration, as it more deeply possesses us, inevitably leads on to self- offering: for every advance in prayer is really an advance in love. “I ask not for thy gifts but for thyself,” says the Divine Voice to Thomas à Kempis. There is something in all of us which knows that to be true.

Growth in spiritual personality means growth in charity. And charity… operating in the world of prayer, is the live wire along which the power of God, indwelling our finite spirits, can and does act on other souls and other things; rescuing, healing, giving support and light. That, of course, is real intercession; which is gravely misunderstood by us, if we think of it mainly in terms of asking God to grant particular needs and desires. Such secret intercessory prayer ought to penetrate and accompany all our active work, if it is really to be turned to the purpose of God. It is the supreme expression of the spiritual life on earth: moving from God to man, through us, because we have ceased to be self-centered units, but are woven into the great fabric of praying souls, the “mystical body” through which the work of Christ on earth goes on being done.

Those who deal much with souls soon come to know something about the strange spiritual currents which are at work under the surface of life, and the extent in which charity can work on supernatural levels for supernatural ends. But if you are to do that, the one thing that matters is that you should care supremely about it; care in fact, so much that you do not mind how much you suffer for it. We cannot help anyone until we do care, for it is only by love that spirit penetrates spirit.

Real saints do feel and bear the weight of the sins and pains of the world.
It is the human soul’s greatest privilege that we can thus accept redemptive suffering for one another – and they do. St Theresa says that if anyone claiming to be united to God is always in a state of peaceful beatitude, she simply does not believe in their union with God. Such a union, to her mind, involves great sorrow for the sin and pain of the world; a sense of identity not only with God but also with all other souls, and a great longing to redeem and heal. That is real supernatural charity. It is a call to love and save not the nice but the nasty; not the lovable but the unlovely, the hard, the narrow, and the embittered, and the tiresome, who are so much worse. To love irrespective of merit or opinion or personal preference; to love even those who offend our taste. If you are to love your people thus, translating your love, as you must, into unremitting intercessory work, and avoid being swamped by the great ocean of suffering, sin and need to which you are sent, once again this will only be done by maintaining and feeding the temper of adoration and trustful adherence. This is the heart of the life of prayer; and only in so far as we work from this centre can we safely dare to touch other souls and seek to affect them. For such intercession is a sacrificial job; and sacrificial jobs need the support of a stronger inner life if they are to be carried through. They are rooted and grounded in love

2 The Very Thought of Thee. Arranged and Ed. Douglas V. Steere and J. Minton Batten. Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1953. 72-74.





February 27, 2023
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