from Introduction by Evelyn Underhill to: The Cloud of Unknowing

EVELYN UNDERHILLAs all man’s feeling and thought of himself and his relation to God is comprehended in Humility, so all his feeling and thought of God in Himself is comprehended in Charity; the self-giving love of Divine Perfection “in Himself and for Himself” which Hilton calls “the sovereign and the essential joy.” Together these two virtues should embrace the sum of his responses to the Universe; they should govern his attitude to man as well as his attitude to God. “Charity is nought else . . . but love of God for Himself above all creatures, and of man for God even as thyself.” Charity and Humility, then, together with the ardent and industrious will, are the necessary possessions of each soul set upon this adventure. Their presence it is which marks out the true from the false mystic: and it would seem, from the detailed, vivid, and often amusing descriptions of the sanctimonious, the hypocritical, the self-sufficient, and the self-deceived in their “diverse and wonderful variations,” that such a test was as greatly needed in the “Ages of Faith” as it is at the present day. Sham spirituality flourished in the mediaeval cloister, and offered a constant opportunity of error to those young enthusiasts who were not yet aware that the true freedom of eternity “cometh not with observation.”

Anonymous (2010-10-07). The Cloud of Unknowing (Kindle Locations 292-301).   Kindle Edition.

EVELYN UNDERHILL

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