TO MARY NEYLAN, who had told Lewis she was going to resume the practice of her faith after years of alienation and theological struggle: On acting on the light one has; on the unreliability of religious emotion; on confession of sins to a spiritual director; and on daily spiritual and Bible reading.
4 January 1941
Congratulations . . . on your own decision. I don’t think this decision comes either too late or too soon. One can’t go on thinking it over for ever; and one can begin to try to be a disciple before one is a professed theologian. In fact they tell us, don’t they, that in these matters to act on the light one has is almost the only way to more light. Don’t be worried about feeling that, or about feeling at all. As to what to do, I suppose the normal next step, after self-examination repentance and restitution, is to make your Communion; and then to continue as well as you can, praying as well as you can . . . and fulfilling your daily duties as well as you can. And remember always that religious emotion is only a servant. . . This, I say, would be the obvious course. If you want anything more e.g. Confession and Absolution which our church enjoins on no-one but leaves free to all—let me know and I’ll find you a directeur. If you choose this way, remember it’s not the psychoanalyst over again: the confessor is the representative of Our Lord and declares His forgiveness—his advice or ‘understanding’ though of real, is of secondary importance.
For daily reading I suggest (in small doses) Thomas à Kempis’ ‘Imitation of Christ’ and the ‘Theologia Germanica’...and of course the Psalms and New Testament. Don’t worry if your heart won’t respond: do the best you can. You are certainly under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, or you wouldn’t have come where you now are: and the love that matters is His for you—yours for Him may at present exist only in the form of obedience. He will see to the rest.
This has been great news for me I need hardly say. You have all my prayers (not that mine are worth much).
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.