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".
The will to all goodness, which is God Himself, began to display itself in a new way, when it first gave birth to creatures. The same will to all goodness began to manifest itself in another new way, when it became patience and compassion towards fallen creatures. But neither of these ways are the beginning of any new tempers or qualities in God, but only new and occasional manifestations of that true eternal will to all goodness which always was and always will be in the same fulness of infinity in God.
From all bodies together, we cannot obtain one little thought; this is impossible, and of another order. From all bodies and minds, we cannot produce a feeling of true charity; this is impossible, and of another supernatural order.
This book has been arranged on the same principles as The Passion of Christ (published in 1939), but it covers every day of the Christian Year. It is arranged, for convenience, according to the Sundays and chief Holy Days of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. It was impossible to include more Holy Days without either making the book larger than was desirable or else selecting according to my own personal wish. An effort has been made to ensure that all passages chosen shall have in them some particular greatness of phrasing. The works of the teachers and saints of the Christian Church are full of such phrases, and it sometimes seems a pity that we should prefer the looser and less powerful exhortations of contemporary piety. A recovery of a greater knowledge of the greater men is much to be wished.
There are two or three names in the following passages which may seem to recur more often than others; this may be excused by the fact that they are probably the least known at present. Kierkegaard has not yet become popular, nor has the wise master William Law, nor John Donne (as a teacher of souls). Still less known is the curious collection of goodness and dreams, the account of the eastern hermits which is called The Paradise of the Fathers. It is needless to say that many readers will complain of the omission of names, or of disproportion in choice. That is inevitable in a book of this kind; there will always be room for other books like it, and the matter in the original writers is almost inexhaustible. A very few modern writers have been included—not that there is nothing to be found in other moderns, but that the purpose of the book was rather to revive the unfamiliar than to repeat the more familiar. Certain passages have been found in books other than their authors' own; these have, I think, always been referred to the original. If I have omitted, in any case, to ask permission, is is due to the difficult conditions in which the book was compiled.
My thanks are due to Messrs George Bell for permission to include the passages from Coventry Patmore; to Messrs Burns, Oates, & Washbourne for those from The Cloud of Unknowing and those from the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas (and for these last also to the English Dominican Fathers); to Messrs Methuen for those from Richard Tauler's The Inner Way; also for those from the lady Juian of Norwich; to Messrs Chatto & Windus for extracts from The Book of Divine Consolation and from The Paradise of the Fathers; to Mr. T.S. Eliot and Messrs Faber & Faber for the one extract from Idea of a Christian Society and passages from Murder in the Cathedral; to Messrs Sheed & Ward for those from St. John of the Cross and from Leon Bloy's Letters to his Fiancee; to Messrs J.M. Watkins for the extracts from Meister Eckhart; to the Right Reverend the Lady Abbess of Stanbrook Abbey for those from St. Teresa; to the S.P.C.K. for the one extract from The Ascetic Works of St. Basil and the three from St. Seraphim of Sarov.