This is a reprint of 2 devotionals, "The New Christian Year" (1941) and "The Passion of Christ: Being the Gospel Narrative of the Passion with Short Passages Taken from the Saints and Doctors of the Church" (1939), both chosen by Charles Williams, an English poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and teacher. Charles Walter Stansby Williams was most often associated with the Inklings (a group of christian writers including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis), Williams was also cited as a major influence on W.H. Auden's conversion to christianity and he was a peer and friend of T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers and Evelyn Underhill. These devotionals collect writings from throughout the history of christian thought. His choices were novel at the time, referencing Kierkegaard just as his translations were appearing in english print (Williams helped edit the first translations in England) and drawing upon the little known sermons of the poet John Donne.
For each day of the Church year (starting in Advent), quotes will be posted as they appeared in the 1941 edition of "The New Christian Year". They are categorized by the source on the left, so that readers can read more from each author. I will also add links to websites about each source.
During lent the "The New Christian Year" will be supplemented by quotes from "The Passion of the Christ". This text has passages from the Gospel accounts of the passion supplemented by quotes from the "Saints and Doctors of the Church".
God which moveth mere natural agents as an efficient only, doth
likewise move intellectual creatures, and especially his holy angels:
for beholding the face of God, in admiration of so great excellency
they all adore him; and being rapt with the love of his beauty, they
cleave inseparably for ever unto him. Desire to resemble him in
goodness maketh them unweariable and even unsatiable in their longing
to do by all means all manner good unto all the creatures of God, but
especially unto the children of men: in the countenance of whose
nature, looking downward, they behold themselves beneath themselves;
even as upward, in God, beneath whom themselves are, they see that
character which is nowhere but in themselves and us resembled.
In suffering and tribulation there are really certain situations in
which, humanly speaking, the thought of God and that he is nevertheless
love, makes the suffering far more exhausting . . . For either one
suffers at the thought that God the all-powerful, who could so easily
help, leaves one helpless, or else one suffers because one's reason is
crucified by the thought that God is love all the same and that what
happens to one is for one's good . . . The further effort which the
idea of God demands of us is to have to understand that suffering must
not only be borne but that it is good, a gift of the God of love.
He who did not suffer as the man suffers upon whom hardships and
adversity suddenly fall but who has before him every instant the
possibility that everything nevertheless might be redressed—for He knew
that it was inevitable; He who knew that with every new sacrifice He
made in behalf of the truth He was hastening His persecution and
destruction, so that He had control of His fate, could ensure for
Himself the splendour of royal power and the devout admiration of the
race if He would let go of the truth, but knew also with even greater
certainty that He would ensure His destruction, if (oh, eternally
certain way to destruction!) He were in any respect to desert the
truth—how did he manage to live without anxiety for the next day? . . .
He had Eternity with Him in the day that is called to-day, hence the
next day had no power over Him, it had no existence for Him. It had no
power over Him before it came, and when it came, and was the day that
is called to-day it had no power over Him than that which was the
Father's will, to which He had consented with eternal freedom, and to
which He obediently bowed.
Some men the fiend will deceive in this manner full wonderfully. He
will enflame their brains to maintain God's law, and to destroy sin in
all other men. He will never tempt them with a thing that is openly
evil. All men will they reprove of their faults right as though they
had a cure of their souls: and yet they think that they dare not else
for God but tell them their faults that they see. And they say that
they be stirred thereto by the fire of charity, and of God's love in
their hearts; and truly they lie, for it is with the fire of hell,
welling up in their brains and in their imagination.
[There are] . . . those who form too strong a love for one spiritual
art, and make, as it were, an end for themselves of this act, and if,
by any chance, they lose it, straightaway they despair and cease from
all other acts.
Pride calls me to the window, gluttony to the table, wantonness to
the bed, laziness to the chimney, ambition commands me to go up-stairs,
and covetousness to come down. Vices, I see, are as well contrary to
themselves as to virtue. Free me, Lord, from this distracted case;
fetch me from being sin's servant to be thine, whose "service is
perfect freedom," for thou art but one, and ever the same.
Would wicked men dwell a little more at home, and descend into the
bottom of their own hearts they would soon find Hell opening her mouth
wide upon them, and those secret fires of inward fury and displeasure
breaking out upon them.