The Secret Weapon to End the Crisis in the Church (Guest: David Torkington)

February 16, 2024 01:06:43
The Secret Weapon to End the Crisis in the Church (Guest: David Torkington)
Crisis Point
The Secret Weapon to End the Crisis in the Church (Guest: David Torkington)

Feb 16 2024 | 01:06:43

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

We all are frustrated with the crisis in today's Church, but what can we do about it? Our guest today will answer that question.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: We are all frustrated with the crisis in today's church, but what can we do about it? Our guests today will give us one answer to that question. Hello, I'm Eric Samuel, your host and Aaron, chief of Crisis magazine. Before we get started, I just want to encourage people to subscribe to the channel to hit the like button, let other people know about it. We really appreciate that. When you do that, you can follow us on social media at Crisis Mag, the various social media channels. Also, you can subscribe to our email newsletter. Just go to crisismagazine.com, scroll down a little bit, put your email address in, and you'll get our article sent to you every day, plus links to the podcast in your inbox. Before I get started, introduce our guest. Hopefully this will all work. Technically, if you're watching, I have earbuds in. There was water damage in my house and they're replaced and they are tearing out the floor right above me right now. So I'm hoping I can hear everything fine, but they've been drilling, they've been doing all that, and I think it should be fine, but we'll see how that goes. Sometimes you just have to kind of make do with what you have. Okay, so our guest today, I'm very excited about this. I had actually a number of people tell me, you got to interview this guy. You got to interview this guy. And I was like, okay, this sounds interesting. And so I looked it up, and when I read and saw what he's done, I said, I got to interview this guy. So I agreed with everybody who told me I have to do that. David Torkington is a spiritual theologian, author and speaker. He specializes in prayer, christian spirituality and mystical theology. His personal spirituality is predominantly franciscan. His mystical theology, Carmelite. He has sold over 400,000 books in more than twelve different languages. His books have been endorsed by Bishop Athenica Schneider, by Dan Burke of the Avala Institute, and by mother Abbas, Cecilia Abbas of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. His latest book is family spirituality, Christ's gift to the church. Welcome to the program, Mr. Torkinton. [00:02:04] Speaker B: Thank you very much, Eric. [00:02:06] Speaker A: So what I found, so obviously our magazine is called crisis. We talk about the cris in the world, but more specifically, typically the crisis in the church. And I had a couple people tell me, like, okay. And Kevin Wells was one of them, and he's one of our regular writers. He wrote the forward, actually, I saw to your latest. [00:02:26] Speaker B: Yes, yes. [00:02:27] Speaker A: Which just came so literally today. Yeah, right, right. [00:02:31] Speaker B: Exactly. [00:02:32] Speaker A: So recording this ash Wednesday, it literally came out, wrote. He was telling me, though, and he was the only one who said this, like, this guy really, he understands the cris going on, but he doesn't just say, we have a crisis. He has some answers for us for what we can do. And so I just want to start off by just asking in general about the crisis in the church. Like, how would you describe it and what would you say are the roots to it? I know it could be a long answer, but just kind of just, let's get started with that. [00:03:04] Speaker B: Right. Well, here you've caught me out, because when I'm talking, I normally say I've got two hats. One is white and the other is black. When I'm wearing my white hat, I'm on my subject. When I'm wearing my black hat, I'm off my subject. I'm not an expert, I'm putting my black hat on. I'm not a Rome watcher, I'm not a vaticanologist. But I'm very grateful to them all because they've enabled me to see that the church at the moment is in the worst crisis in the whole of her history. And about that, there is not a shadow of a doubt. My area of expertise is to say what we must do in order to come to terms with the terrible state that the church is in. And that is to go back over 2000 years to the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. We must go to him and to see the God given spirituality that he introduced into early Christianity, for we must return to it. Everywhere you hear the cry nowadays, back to tradition. But what do people mean tradition? Some people mean to immediately after the Vatican council. To the Vatican Council. To just before the council. No, no. If we're going to see what our true tradition is, we must go back to early Christianity, to the simple sacrificial spirituality lived by our Lord Jesus Christ before he introduced it into the early church. And then it's a case of back to the future, to reconstitute that spirituality here on now and without delay. And it is to this that I want to speak about more than anything else, because it is my area of expertise and it is the only solution to the problem we've got in the church. If you've heard in recent months, Cardinal Burke speaking, or you, Archbishop Wigano, or Bishop Strickland, or bishop, particularly the bishop who kindly endorsed my book, I just played for time because I've just forgotten his name. [00:05:35] Speaker A: Bishop Schneider. [00:05:36] Speaker B: Schneider, yeah. [00:05:37] Speaker A: Bishop Athens Schneider. Yes. [00:05:39] Speaker B: To remember that the head of the mystical body, the head of the church on earth is Jesus Christ our Lord, and it's to him that we must go and to the spirituality to which he first introduced us. And that's really where I'd like to take viewers this afternoon. [00:06:01] Speaker A: Yeah, and I think that's very fascinating. I've got like five questions that came up my head while you were talking. From what you just said, why don't you, before we really get into that, tell us a little bit more about your background, more than I said about your background in a spiritual theologian, your spirituality. How did this all kind of come about to get you where you are today? [00:06:27] Speaker B: Well, it came about in this way. I'm going to take you back a long, long, long way now to the year, wait for it, 1949. When would you believe it? I became a rosary crusader about Fatima around with me, and I was aching for 1960 when the last secret was about to be revealed. In the meantime, I wanted to try my vocation as a priest and I joined the franciscan order. Much later on, I was made the director of Diocesan Residential Retreat center in Brentwood in London from 1969 to 1981. After that, I was headhunted to go to the national catholic radio television center in London to become the dean of studies. And during the 80s, while doing that, I set about many missionary journeys all over Britain, most particularly in Europe and South Africa and most particularly in equatorial Africa, as a retreat giver, as a speaker trying to communicate the message that I want to get over today. Now, during this time, I discovered the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church on a massive scale. And the reason why this happened was because as a speaker talking about prayer and particularly mystical theology, people, rightly or wrongly, in my case, wrongly, believed I must be a holy man. And therefore they confided in me and I was horrified. And this was the middle of the eight. Even earlier, the beginning of the was horrified to find sexual abuse on an industrial scale. That shook me to the very foundation of my being. Now, I thought the only thing I could do and the right and proper thing for me to do would be to inform Rome, because they couldn't possibly know about what is going on, else they would be doing something about it. And so I wrote letter after letter to Rome, only to find out that by the end of the discovered, they certainly did know what was going on, but they had a policy even then of sweeping everything under the carpet and canceling everybody who wanted to tell the truth of what was going on in the church. And so I was sent to a very remote friary in the north of England, told not to preach, to keep my head down, my mouth shut. Now you can imagine the terrible psychological problems I had knowing what was going on, not being able to speak about it. And so, of course, I went through a very, very difficult period of time. In fact, the friary was up on the moors and I used to go for walks in the afternoon. And one afternoon I collapsed in the heather. I knew I was finished. Exhausted with the pressure of knowing what I did and being unable to do anything about it. Somehow I managed to get back to the road and I thumbed a lift back to the Friary. I knew it was the end. I knew this couldn't go on. I said I was ill, which I was. I went to bed, and in three days of solitude and prayer, I came to a decision. I packed my bag and I left. I couldn't go on in this situation any longer, blithely believing in my simplicity, that now I was free to speak out. But was I? Of course not. Nobody believed the stories I'd heard, what I'd been through, even my own family, when I say my own family, my parents had died and my two brothers were both dead, but I had a close and family of cousins and so forth, told it, wrote a letter to them, and I had a letter in reply, which more or less said, reading between the lines, could we buy you a one way ticket to the nearest funny farm? They couldn't believe it. Nor, I suddenly discovered, did anybody. Crisis magazine, I don't know if it existed then, but maybe they would have produced a few articles of mine. Nobody else would. Nobody believed what I was saying. It was too horrendous. And yet now it's commonplace. Everybody knows about it. But then they didn't. And so I decided there was only one thing to do, because there was only one answer, and prayer was the only answer. It had always been a mainstay of my life. For 65 years, I'd come to believe that there was nothing more important than prayer, and that was central to my life. I suppose that's why I was asked to go here, there and everywhere to give talks, because people wanted to listen. [00:12:34] Speaker A: It's interesting that what you say there about prayer, because often when I am talking about something, some scandal or crisis going on, and I'll say, what can Catholics do about it? I often almost make a joke by saying, well, the first thing is prayer. I make a joke that I sound like a broken record, because I always say that. But it really is true. But at the same time, I do think most people, when they hear that? They don't really hear. I know for a long time this is the same for me other than, okay, I'll say my prayers, but I have to do something. I can't just pray. So when you say we have to pray in response, what is it? You mean beyond, okay, I'll say my rosary, I'll go to mass or something like that. That's kind of where most of us end. We just end with that. Like, okay, I did that, now what do I do? So I think I'm getting the sense that you mean much more than that. So let's get into that a little bit. Then. [00:13:37] Speaker B: Let me address that. So I, therefore, for the next 30 years, I disappeared into solitude, living more like a semi hermit than anything else, going back to rediscover and read and study in ever greater detail the spirituality of the early church and the christian mystical tradition from the very, very beginning. All of a sudden I came across what came to be called a year of mercy. I'd heard nothing. I knew nothing about the new pope much. I'd read a couple of hacheographies, but it was only when the year of mercy came and it was explained to me what it was all about, I thought, what on earth is going on in the Vatican? Mercy for everyone. Without confession, without seeking forgiveness. This is nonsense. And thanks to the vaticanologist and so forth, they woke me up and I realized that now I must try to do something about it. So how therefore to get to people with the message that I think is absolutely crucial, namely prayer for reasons and historical reasons. I went into these historical reasons in a long interview I gave to John Henry Newman a few weeks ago. I gave the historical reasons there. I won't repeat them now because you can go there and you can see them. [00:15:04] Speaker A: But just interrupt for 1 second. John Henry Weston at lifecycle. Henry Weston, yes, Newman, which, who of course, John Henry Newman is great, but. [00:15:15] Speaker B: We'Ll come to him later because very important part in my life. [00:15:19] Speaker A: Right. [00:15:20] Speaker B: So I don't want to canonize John Henry Weston. [00:15:24] Speaker A: John Henry is a great guy, but, yeah, let's not canonize him yet. [00:15:27] Speaker B: He's not yet canonized. That's right. Let's be clear about that. I don't jump the gun. So to answer your question, therefore, about prayer, and this has always been my problem, and it's my problem now. It's my problem when I write an article, when I give any interview anywhere, there's just so much to say. I don't know how to begin. So let me say this before I go any further, in order to answer exactly what I mean by prayer, I have just completed twelve long lectures on prayer from the beginning, and they have been recorded for free. And you can find them on essentialistpress.com. Go there immediately and they're at your disposal. You'll see there what I mean by prayer. And what I mean by prayer is how they first begin, by showing how they first prayed in the very early days of the church. I said a short time ago that the Christ himself first lived the spirituality that he introduced into the early days of the church. And one of the first things to which I introduce people when they go to my lectures is to what we now call morning prayer. In the early days of Christianity, Jesus Christ himself had practiced every day of his life because he'd been taught it by his mother, who'd learnt from St. Anne and St. Joachim what we call they called the shamer. Now, in this shamer said every morning and three times a day in the synagogue, as by our lady and our Lord and all the disciples, the shamer. The shamer encapsulates within itself the first and greatest of the commandments, to love God with your whole heart and your whole mind and with your whole soul. And in the shamer, the forthcoming day is consecrated to God. That's where they began their day. That's where our lady began her day. That's where our Lord and the disciples, they began their day with the shamer, which developed into what we have called the morning prayer. You may remember some years ago when the Holy Father, then Saint Benedict, hence the Holy Father, he went online for the first time and he was asked, holy Father, a young couple said they had six children. They were very busy. It was a very busy life. How can we pray? And he said, begin your day with the morning offering, which is the christian shamer, to sanctify everything that is about to happen, everything you say, everything you do in the forthcoming day, that's where you begin. But that is only the beginning of ten lectures. So I please, would ask you to go there to follow the course and to see how the early christians prayed. You don't find it in detail in the New Testament or the acts of the apostles. And I want to tell you why you don't. It's a case of the elephant in the room. You may remember the story. It was actually an Oxford college when the curator of their museum asked a couple of students in the holidays to do an inventory of everything in the museum. And they did faithfully. And they gave it to the curator at the end of it all, and they said, oh, thanks very much. But excuse me, haven't you forgotten the elephant in the room? It was, in fact, I believe, a woolly mammoth. And they said, but everyone knows that's there. Everyone knows it's the same in the early church, in the acts of the apostles. The apostles, they were praying the shame every single morning and three times a day in the synagogue, because they still went to the synagogue a number of years before they were thrown out. And when they were thrown out, they met for the synagogue ceremony, the synagogue service in one another's houses. Before, as you know, it was united on the day of the sun Sunday, with the sacrifice of the mass, with the Eucharist, to become what we call the mass today. And so everybody did it. So you didn't tell everybody to do what they were already doing. In fact, if you think about it, there was hardly any mention in the New Testament about the mass, except when some people got it wrong in Corinth, remember? But it didn't, because everyone was going on the first day of the week, everybody that was the center of their whole christian spirituality, so it wasn't mentioned. So in the same way, therefore, the shamer, this key prayer that sacrificed the whole of the day, wasn't mentioned, and they didn't emphasize it because everybody was doing it. So this is where we must begin sacrificing the day in such a way that at the beginning of the day, notice we are observing the first of the new commandments of the Lord. And by the end of the day, we are reflecting on and examining our conscience about how we've observed the second of the great commandments of the Lord. That is, to love your neighbor. No, not as yourself. That's for the Old Testament, to love your neighbor as I have loved you, as Christ loves us. So here in this shamer, and reflecting on it how we've, at the end of the day, we are, in fact, observing the two great commandments. Now, remember, at the last supper, our Lord said, if you keep my commandments, and they're all summed up in these two commandments, if you keep my commandments, I will send the Holy Spirit, and he will come to you. He will be near you. No, he will be in you, and my father and I will come, and we will make our home within you. And this now is how the beginning of a whole new and deeper part of our spiritual life begins, as now, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, begins what is called mystical theology. And let me be quite clear about the word mystical because people get so mixed up here. The word mystical comes from the greek word mysterion. St. Paul uses the word mysterion to describe God's complete plan for us, to create us in the first place, for our incredible destination, which is to enjoy beatitude in Christ with him and toward eternity. That is the mysterion. Now, the moment, now a person begins. Baptism takes us up. Baptism takes us up into Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being. But then in Christ, we are led further on to participate in God's plan, the mysterion. And for those who now begin to give quality space and time as well as the shema at the beginning of the day, to find quality space and time within that day, to meditate on God's plan for us, on his love for us. Gradually they were drawn into what came to be called the way. Remember that for early christians, the word the way was how they described themselves. They were on the Way, or more precisely, they were in the way because the way wasn't a pathway or a highway. It was Jesus Christ our Lord. And those who went on this way because their prayer could not be seen. Remember, jewish prayer in general tended tend to be they would pray in public aloud. But this was hidden prayer, coming from the greek word mysterion, meaning hidden secret. Unseen, they began to pray. Now what came to be called mystical or unseen prayer as they journeyed on into Christ and in, with and through him, to contemplate, to contemplate the FaThER as the final prelude to union with him. Now, this contemplation is terribly important because it was the be all and the end all of the Christian life. St. Thomas Aquinas, you may remember, summed up Christianity, our calling as Christians by saying that we are all called, not just Dominicans and Franciscans and Carmelites and Augustinians. Our calling is to contemplate and to share the fruits of contemplation with others. So now, as those first Christians were led on in Christ, to contemplate the Father they received from the Father in return. Love for love, the love that they had been generating as they traveled along the mystic way, in, with and through Christ, was returned in kind. For God gave them the fullness of his love in return, called by the early fathers of the church the pleroma. Now, within the pleroma are all the infused virtues, the gifts, the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we see to perfection in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now in him and travelling on within him, they received the fruits of contemplation, the infused virtues that enable them now to go out and transform a pagan world into a christian world, and to do it in such a short time and to do it from a base that I must draw everybody's attention to. In those early days, there were no Dominicans, there were no Franciscans, there were no Augustinians. There were no Carmelites. There were no Benedictines or Cistercians. It would be almost two and a half centuries before St. Anthony went into the desert to begin the aramitical form of life, the first form of monasticism from which religious life finally grew. What was the base? Where did it all begin? From the base was the family. The family. This is why the book that comes out today, I called it family spirituality. You can't really see it because I think it's all a bit backwards for you. [00:29:03] Speaker A: I want to make sure I put a link to the new book in the show notes so people can go to it. Family spirituality. And this kind of leads perfectly into my next question, which is. And you started to answer it, and that was great, because often, I think in today's world, we do separate the prayer of the religious with the prayer of the laity, that they can spend their time, their focus on prayer, and that's great. And we love that because they help keep the church going. But for us, people and families, it can be very difficult. Yeah. Okay. I do my morning offering when I get up in the morning. That's very important. That's key. Before I go to bed at night, I look back at how I did and ask for forgiveness for ways I have fallen. But how practically, then, during the day, do I then make my life a life of prayer? When I got obligations for work, obligations for family and whatnot, just different things pulling on me at all times. How then does that become a spirituality that is actually practical? I can actually live out in prayer? [00:30:13] Speaker B: Well, we've already talked about consecrating the whole of the day. And when. I remember years ago, my father, who was a great reader, and he used to read a lot in the days when the flag for Thomas Merton was flying high, he used to read him and early monasticism and so on and so forth. And I know he came from convert stock. My mother came from recusance stock. They were catholic recusants. And so he didn't really talk as much as my mother did about the faith. And I remember asking him one day, what were the stickers on his watch? He had little stickers at 09:00 12:00 and 03:00. Now, in the early days of the church, and he'd certainly gone back and read the early fathers. And by the early fathers, I mean the apostolic fathers, they would not only make this offering at the beginning of the day, but they would pause for a few moments. I'm half seeing behind you, I can't quite see it, but there's a picture of the Angelus, isn't there? [00:31:48] Speaker A: Behind. Yes, that's right. [00:31:51] Speaker B: At 06:00, at 12:00 to pray three times a day, to pause. Moments of pause. Now, my father paused at 09:00, at 12:00 or as near as it doesn't matter, because in early Christianity, they were told not just to go to the synagogue at 09:00 and 12:00 and three in the afternoon, but a new form of prayer was introduced, and it was called meditation. Now, before Christ came, meditation only had one meaning. Out in India and later with the neoplatonists and so forth, it was using a mantra or the sort of mindfulness that people talk about today. But when this new form of prayer called meditation was introduced into the early church, it meant to meditate upon the life of Christ, to come to know and love him. The whole purpose of the word being made flesh is that we could come to love God, genuine love him, by finding him, his embodiment in our Lord Jesus Christ. And the early christians were taught quite clearly. This is something you find in all the early writers, someone like Joseph Youngman, for instance, in all his writings of the early church. They were told to stop at 09:00 and to meditate on the condemnation of Christ to death, to pause for a moment at midday to remember his crucifixion and to pause at 03:00 to remind themselves of his death, because this was the most profound expression of God's love on earth embodied in the death of Christ. And they were even told to get up at midnight, and at midnight they would meditate there for longer on the resurrection. Okay, you might say that's not practical today. But remember, in those days, without the electric light, most ordinary people hadn't got lots of money for oil anyway, so they did tend to go to bed at sundown and get up at sunset, meaning making a long night and so getting up at midnight for the vigil and to pray. There was a time that was especially sought out by christians. Now we've got to find our own way to do the same thing, because if you are genuinely going to come to love God, because our destination is union with God and union only comes through getting to know and to love him. And we find his love embodied in Jesus Christ. And the most profound expression of that is in the passion of Christ. Then by all means, read the scriptures, read the whole Bible. But when it comes to preparation for prayer or to give you food for prayer, if people read, for instance, my talk number eight, in the lectures that I've given, they will see how I came to an important point in my prayer life when after meditating on, thanks to the new mysteries, of course, the supper of the Lord, the last supper, and meditating on those profound words that I've already quoted. And then to follow Christ into Gethsemane, to follow him in your mind, in your imagination, to Caiaphas, to Herod, to the scourging of the pillar, the crowning of the thorns, the way of the cross, to Christ's death on the cross. This is screaming by God, I love you, and this is how I show my love for you. Now, one way or another, we have to make sacrifices in our lives. Somehow, some way, we've got to begin finding somewhere for this form of meditation which was absolutely central to the early christians because it was from meditating on Christ and his love for us that they really began to generate a profound love. Now, love of its very nature craves for union. That's the nature of love. Now, when therefore, you begin through meditation in this way that was so important in the early days of the church, they began to crave for union with Christ. Gradually they were led on to what came to be called contemplation. And I'll explain what I mean by that in a moment. But let me just make this one point. When they came for the eucharistic service on the mass, as we call it now, on the supper of the Lord, there would sometimes be one in Jerusalem or nearby before they scattered, there could be two apostles and a couple of disciples. And they would all speak about their memories of our Lord, about his love, his compassion, about his miracles, about his death on the cross. And their presiding over the church at Jerusalem was our lady to tell them more about his infancy, about his growing up. They would learn from them how to meditate. Now, 2000 years later, we still have the scriptures, we still have the story of Christ's love, his death, his resurrection, we still have that. But though when this does lead us in meditation to love for Christ and generates a real fervent love, there is a sort of problem. Because although it is quite possible to love somebody in the past, somebody who lived 2000 years ago, yes, it is possible to love them, but it is not possible to be united with them. This, therefore, is the great moment in the spiritual life. If you have prepared now to give this time to meditation, and this is why our lady is continually pushing the rosary, not just to say the words, but to meditate upon them, then we are led onwards by the Holy Spirit. And the changeover takes place, because you can only be reunited with Jesus Christ as he is now in his risen glory. He is alive now and amongst us. I will be with you all days to the end of time. So now we're led from meditation into contemplation. Now, let me be clear about this. I can't go into all the reasons, though you can come back and ask questions to probe in the short time that we have available. But those early families, when they generated love, their love was suffused, surcharged by the love of the risen Lord in such a way that a new hybrid form of love was generated, that bonded those families together in a way that the pagan world had never seen before. They were stunned at what they saw, not just how they lived, incidentally, but how they were prepared to die. They'd see them being crucified as Christ was being crucified. A man like Carpus was smiling and laughing as they were hammering him to the cross. Blandinia scorched to death, almost to death, before being thrown to the wild beasts. Perpetua and Felicity. Felicity were screaming in childbirth when she was in prison. And the jailer said, ha. What will you be like now if you're screaming like that? Now? What will happen when you're thrown into the wild beasts? And before they were thrown to the wild beast, they were brutally scourged so the blood would run and make the animals rush to rip them apart. And she said not a word. She was in an ecstasy all the time. Now, this is what the early pagan world saw in families, a quality of loving they had never seen before. Now, they'd been led on into contemplation, because it's only there that they would receive the infused gift of fortitude. You know, the. The famous gifts of temperance, fortitude, prudence, wisdom. But all the other moral virtues are drawn from them. And what were ordinary virtues that we strive by our own endeavor to attain before now become infused by the Holy Spirit, and you see virtue to an extremely high level. Now, what I want to say to you is this again, we're so limited here with time, that as prayer developed from meditation. And you have to give time, you have to learn to come to know and love Christ through meditation, time has to be found. What better time than lent? But when you're led into contemplation, a new form of prayer takes over. That is utterly simple, that it can be with you throughout the day. You don't need to settle down with books to read or long spiritual exercises to follow. You see, in the desert fathers, for instance, a man like Macarius, teaching them to just call out when they're in need, Lord, help me. Or merely Jesus, or from which the Jesus prayer finally was generated and detailed by St. John Timachus, and so on. But short, pithy prayers, I deal with them in my book so that when you come to contemplation, you see there is no time in the day. But with these ejaculations, as St. Augustine called these arrows, as it were, you are continually aware of the presence of God there in the background as you're going about your daily work. And you can send arrows in the form of these short prayers so that, in fact, contemplation, which you thought was most applicable to monks in monasteries or friars in friaries, is the best possible form of prayer and was used continually by the early Christians throughout their day. They were aware of the indwelling that I spoke about before because it became tangible. Because it became tangible in the end, even though they were doing other things. [00:44:28] Speaker A: You mentioned the path, so to speak, that you're talking about from almost like the vocal prayers, the morning offering in a day, even rosary, to meditation. And then the meditation leads on to contemplation. And contemplation becomes part of your life. And what I want to do is, first, because I want to encourage people, I'm going to have a link to it. These videos that you mentioned, because you go through this in a more detailed fashion, I really want to point people to that because that's how you learn it. One question I have for you, though, is, how does that prayer life that you're talking about, how does it integrate, complement work with our liturgical prayer? Going to mass and participating in the liturgy? How are those things related to each other? [00:45:18] Speaker B: Excellent. Now, this leads me on to summing up, and this is after 65 years of studying in detail early christian spirituality, I finally come to simplifying everything you'd be delighted to know. And it is simplified this early christian spirituality into but three words. First of all, the good news is St. John tells us quite clearly the good news. The good news is not just that God is love, but that God is loving, and he is, in fact, loving all the time, not just on the first Pentecost day but on every subsequent day. That is a fact. What is not a fact is that we are responding to that love. So the whole of the spiritual life, therefore, is summed up in our response to that loving. And this was summed up in the early church by three words. Let me take you back now to the first Pentecost day. The Holy Spirit came down upon our lady and the apostles and people thought they were drunk, they were so full of the love of God. And people said, look, it's only the 9th hour that they're drunk. They said, we're not drunk. We're full of the love of God. We are animated from within by the power of God's love. And they said 3000 of them. We are told, well, tell us what to do. And he said, you must turn to God, turn to the Holy Spirit and keep turning to him. And of course, they were speaking in not English, they were speaking in Aramaic. And so he chose the Aramaic word. He said, you must repent and repent and repent and repent. The word in Aramaic for repentance, shub means to return, you must return to God. More precisely, return home. It's used in the Old Testament by Isaiah to mean, go, return to your father, back to the prodigal son. You must return to God your father now. But you must keep returning because in Aramaic there is no such word for somebody who has repented. There is only a word for a person who is in the process of repenting. It's an ongoing process and that is how we are responding to receive the love of God. Now this then leads to the second word in which everything is summed up. And this second word is prayer. And notice here, Eric, I want to show you what underlies all prayer now, because prayer is merely the word we use for going into what St. Angela of Folino called the Scola DiVini Amoris, the school of diviner loving. That's what prayer is. And you know what happens in that prayer in that time, whatever prayer, whatever means we're know you may be using a day of the rosary, maybe saying a prayer, maybe the Jesus prayer, whatever prayer you're using. What in fact is happening is you are continually turning back to God again and again and again. It is repentance. Prayer is repentance at speed. Why? Because as St. TEresa of Avada points out, whenever you go to prayer, and you know this as well as I know this, whenever you go to prayer you will find 101 distractions there waiting for you from the world that you've just left and the world you are going to return to, and they'll always be there. So now we're beginning to see the essence of prayer is making acts of love where we are saying no to self and what we want to think about the cloud cuckoo land we want to float away into in earth, order to turn back to God, to repent. To repent. So that if in, let us say, 15 minutes, you say it's a waste of time because I've had 100 distractions, I've got good news for you. It means that 100 times you have turned away from what you want to think about the fantasy world you wanted to float away into in order to turn back to God. If you said, well, I only actually had two distractions. The first one was where to spend our next summer holidays, perhaps in the seychelles. The next temptation, where shy floated away into us, how are we going to get the money to get there? And you had two distractions in half an hour, in quarter of an hour, ten minutes, or whatever. That's not prayer. But the other was prayer. You are learning in the scholar divinia Morris how to practice selflessness through speeded up repentance. And now we come to the final word, sacrifice. You have got to make a sacrifice in order to pray in the school of divine love, to learn to make acts of love. And as you are doing this, in the process of you doing this, in the very process of it, your love is being united. God's love is entering into your love as you are doing it, gradually producing a hybrid form of selfless other, considering love that is similar to the love of Christ. Now, and here's the next part of your question. Now, you take all those sacrifices that you have made in your week, and they've not been sacrifices to show how tough you are or how you're a great aesthetic or how strong you are. In fact, you've been showing how weak you are, because you know, without God, you've no power to do anything. And you've been trying to turn to him and turn to him again and again and again. You take the sacrifices that you have made to mass on Sunday, and when you go to mass on Sunday, you offer those sacrifices in with Jesus Christ our Lord, together with your brothers and sisters in the liturgical community in Christ, to receive, to the degree I was about to say, to the degree to which you gave. Not so. Christ is far more generous than that. To give in return his love in ever greater plenitude, to give you the strength to go out and continue that same sort of mystical dynamic throughout the whole of your life. So that, and here I'm quoting the great liturgist Josef Jungman, so that in the end, the end of it all is this, that your whole life becomes the mass, the place where you are continually offering yourself up through Christ to God the Father. One last point. When I finally discovered this, the words of T. S. Eliot came to mind. The end of all your traveling is to end up at the place where you started and to know that place for the first time. I was back in 1949 with the book of Our lady of Fatima. And in that book, what does our lady tell us to do? To repent, to pray, to make sacrifices. And whenever there is an authentic appearance of our lady today, it is always that same message. And then to take that sacrifice to mass, she said to I forget where, but on one occasion she said to one of the children, one of the children said, can we come back to heaven with you now? And our lady said, why ever do you want to come now? What have you got to bring with you? When we go to mass on Sunday morning, our lady is there and saying to us, what have you brought with you to offer? Because if you brought nothing, nothing to what to offer, that mass will be meaningless not in itself, but for ourselves, because we're bringing nothing to offer. And so there, if you like, in all simplicity is the essence of the gospel. And what I find so exciting about this is that with all my learning, all my years studying the scriptures, biblical theology, scripture and so on and so forth, it comes back to utter simplicity in such a way that the essence of Christ's message comes out of the gospel into this simple dynamic that I have just described. Now you see what St. Ignatius meant when he spoke about the Catholic Church. He wasn't just meaning that we are Catholic, because in every country you go to, throughout the world, you will find Catholics and catholic churches. That wasn't true in his day anyway. What he was meaning is it is for all, for everyone, because that the essence of what I've just described can be transposed into any language and into any culture and anywhere in the world. That is why now the great theologian, perhaps the greatest theologian of our day, our lady, in her appearances, has given us this simple dynamic in which everything is summed up so simple and yet, or rather that's why our Lord cried out in the gospels. You may remember, O Lord, Father of heaven and earth, I thank you and give you praise, for you have revealed these things not to the wise, but to little children. That is the essence. And this is why I'm so excited, because at the end of my journey I come to utter simplicity and it is for all and for everyone. [00:57:25] Speaker A: That was beautiful. I mean, just pulling it all together. And I love how it comes back to the beginning of just that. It's not rocket science, what you're talking about. It's a lot of work in one sense, but it's not rocket science. I want to have one last question, and I will admit this is probably a very american question, and I'm american, so what can I do? And that is therefore very practical. So we've talked about prayer, the importance of it. I encourage people to watch the videos, to get your book, to listen this podcast again, to really get a lot of the insights that you're giving about how to pray better. How then practically does that? I don't want to be crass. I almost want to say, how does that do anything? How does that do anything outside of ourselves in the church? Because a lot of people are concerned about what's going on in the world and the church, stuff like that. How does following this life of prayer, meditation, contemplation, bringing it to the mass, how does that then kind of transfer out, so to speak, to the church. [00:58:27] Speaker B: And make a difference, to contemplate, Thomas Aquinas said, and to share the fruits of contemplation with others. Now, in order to answer your question accurately, we must see it in its ideal form. In the early days of the church, our problem is we have so totally lost it in recent years. I said it all began in the family. But believe me, in the early days of the church, children, before they were teenagers, had been led on to contemplation. And this is quite clear, and with more time I'd show this and prove this to you, that they've come to the height and depth and the length and breadth of the love of God very, very early on in their life. And it was this. Therefore, it is not we who go out to change the world. It is Christ who goes out in, with, and through us. It is he who galvanize. It is he who galvanizes us. It is he who animates us. It is he who projects us out into the word, into the world. Now, the word for an apostle actually means somebody who is sent, somebody who is propelled, somebody who is propelled from the inside by the love of God. Now let me give you just one example that I use in the early days of the church, and that is the great apostle St. Paul. Let me use him as an example to answer your question. He was an adult when on the Damascus road, he was thrown down and heard the words, why are you persecuted? Saul? Saul, why are you persecuting me now? The moment he was baptized, he didn't say, now I've got it. I see it. Christ is in us all and wonderful out. I am going to change the world. He went into the desert and he went there for three years for prayer. He wasn't doing anything. He wasn't preaching to anybody. He was allowing himself to be filled by the Holy Spirit, galvanized by the Holy Spirit. He was learned through meditation to contemplation. Now, if you go, for instance, to St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, chapter twelve, those first few verses, he said, I know a man who 14 years ago had revelations and was lifted out of himself into the third heaven, into paradise, to hear words. If you want to understand what happened to him then, then you'll have to read Saint Teresa for Avila's book, Interior Castle. What I'm saying is he realized that without God he could do nothing. And therefore he went into the desert to be filled and animated by the love of God till he came to the point of the height of mystical union. And then Barnabas turned up, because by this time he was at Tarsus and said, come on, come on, it's time for you to go. He said, no, I'm not ready yet. Not ready yet. We hear converts today. Next day, the Catholics and the running the church get into the desert. Our catholic faith is not an ideology, it's a way of life in which we learn to enter into the life of Christ. Let him animate us, because it is he who sanctifies and redeems the church through us. This is God's plan. That's how we become apostles. If we go on our own steam, if you say, well, no, I've got to go out tomorrow, I've got to do something. What, may I ask of you, God, to give nothing unless God gives it to you. You've got to go into solitude for some time, in some way, in your own way, it should have been done. You see, part of the problem is this should have been done when we're children, a part of our catechesis. That's how it was done in the early days of the church. So when they become the editor in chief of Crisis magazine, they've already learnt as children, as teenagers, how to pray and how to contemplate, and they're aware of God's presence. And they use these words, these arrows, these ejaculate prayers of ejaculation, to keep them on course and centered upon God in all and everything that they said and everything that they did. So we've got to relearn and we've got to realize that we. Without me, you have no power to do anything. Do we believe that? Without me you have no power? Power to do anything, anything at all. It doesn't say you won't do very much, you won't get very far. It says nothing. So I'm afraid we've got to learn to stop. Yeah, we may be in middle life, middle years, in the middle of our job. I'm sorry, this should have been learned early on. It isn't. I heard Father mer complaining only the other day that we've gone through six decades without proper catechesis or preparation of the young, and I think it's even longer than that. So when we start again, we've got to teach people how to go, to pray, to meditate, to contemplate, and there must be time for that. Remember St. Francis of Assisi? For three years he disappeared. He didn't have the cheek. He was told to go out and repair the church. He didn't have the cheek to get up and do it and preach repentance. He went to become a hermit for three years. Saint Catherine of Siena spent three years as a hermit in her own home, in her own room. One way or the other, many of us are caught in mid years or so forth, and we've got to begin again where we are. I can't help that, because we've lost it for so long. But we somehow got to find space and time and quality space and time in our daily lives, to radically open ourselves, to allow he who is mighty to bring Christ to birth again in us, to animate us, to possess us, so that then we go out with power, not our own power, but by the power of God. With the power of God, then we will be effective. Without him, we have no power to do anything. [01:05:08] Speaker A: I think that's a good way to end it, because that's a good challenge to remind us that all our activism is basically worthless without prayer and contemplation behind it. And that's what sends us out. So thank you very much for being here, for talking with us, and I think it's probably one of the most useful podcasts we've done as far as practical, which is kind of funny, because I was saying, what's the practical use. I think everything you said here is very practical use for us for actually addressing the cris in the church. So I thank you. Like I said, I will put in the description to this podcast. I'll put links to your new book family spirituality as well as to the videos you talked about. I encourage people. I went through the videos. They're very good to just go through. Take your time to go through them and really understand the basic structure. [01:06:00] Speaker B: They will continue too, Eric. Oh good. But they're going to go on and on as long as people very good help. Essentialistpress.com will take you there. They're for free. I can't charge for teaching people how to pray. It's like Simone. [01:06:16] Speaker A: Yeah, right. Well, thank you very much. I really do appreciate you being on the program. [01:06:22] Speaker B: Thank you for having me. Very good. [01:06:25] Speaker A: Okay, until next time everybody. God love.

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