Everybody has bees in their bonnets. Fr Tetlow, an English diocesan priest who taught me classics at school, had one bee in his bonnet that would sting him at least once a term as he was teaching us Greek and ancient history. “Gentlemen”, he would say, “Everyone can criticise, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. If you do have to criticise, make it positive, constructive and based on the truth, not as you see it, but as it is”. It is easy to criticise the contemporary Church. Anyone can and is doing it, but genuine positive and constructive criticism is another matter. This can only come by comparing the failings that we see in the contemporary Church, and some of the bizarre, if not heretical ways that contemporary ‘modernists’ want to ‘reform’ the Church, with the Truth. The Truth is the God-given teaching that Christ introduced into the early Church through the apostles.
Back to our Origins
There are, for instance, many different spiritualities in the Church that have developed over time. However, they are only as good as they reproduce the one and only God-given spirituality that Christ introduced into early Christianity. All later spiritualities are only reproducing this spirituality for different people, in different circumstances, and in different ways of life. If they deviate substantially from what is the perfect paradigm that we find in its original purity in Apostolic times, then they should be abandoned. Whenever these later spiritualities set about renewing themselves, the sign of their authenticity will always be the way in which they return to the sources that originally inspired them in the first place. Benedictines for instance derive their original inspiration from the faithful community in Jerusalem immediately after the Resurrection. Dominicans find their inspiration from the apostolic way of life as lived by the first apostles. Franciscans are inspired by and base their way of life on the life as lived by Jesus and his disciples.
Beware – an old heresy is returning
I have detailed the divine origins of primitive Christian spirituality in the first twelve chapters of my book, Wisdom from The Christian Mystics – How to Pray the Christian Way. I have done this there and elsewhere and will continue to do so because so-called ‘new spiritualities’ are raising their heads within the Catholic Church as I write. Many totally contradict the teaching of Christ, which was as essential to the early Catholic Church as it still is today. Realising that a spirituality that was inspired and introduced by Christ himself who is God’s divine Son, cannot be challenged, a subtle and hardly perceptible reintroduction of Arianism is on the agenda of some modern heretics. In other words, if Christ is no more than just a man, they argue, as the Arians did, albeit the greatest man who ever lived and especially sent by God, then this would make a big difference. Why? Because then, they would argue that he would see that what was right for the Church two thousand years ago, would not be right for the Church today. In short, he would be introducing new modern agendas that ‘sophisticated’ modern Catholics like us of course, wish to introduce. This insidious infiltration of Catholicism has already begun in the Church from top to bottom. Whilst not openly proclaiming that Christ was only a man, they simply mention him less and less, and themselves and their worldly-wise ways of renewal more and more, that are aeons away from the God-given spirituality that Christ, with all his divine wisdom, introduced into the early Church.
Like Judaism from which it derived, Christianity was primarily a domestic spirituality in which the family was paramount. Why not therefore, go back to discover what can immediately be applied to our lives, rather than trying to understand and live it through the spirituality of a religious order that was not primarily founded for lay people living in the world. We can still be inspired by religious orders and look to them for help and guidance in our spiritual search for God and in our prayer life, but it is we who must apply the principles of our faith and the way we sanctify our lives, as our first Christian ancestors did, who were predominantly family members of a family-oriented Church.
It is from studying the way that they practised what they called ‘white martyrdom’, and ‘carrying their daily Cross’ that their whole lives became the Mass, the place where they continually offered themselves through Christ to God, in and through all they said and did, that we can learn to do the same in our day. This was the new worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ that Christ promised to the Samaritan woman and introduced into the early Church, to be practised in their daily lives, as it was practised in his own daily life. What was primarily done for the Church in later centuries under the influence and inspiration of religious orders, was done in the first Christian centuries by lay people inspired and animated from within by the dynamic action of the Holy Spirit.
The Family to the Rescue
We are facing today one of the greatest crises ever in the history of the Church, and there seems little if any evidence to show that those who came to the rescue before are poised to save us from impending disaster. There are sadly fewer and fewer religious orders and they are sadly weaker and weaker then they once were.It is time for the domestic Church to rise and do what it did for the Church in the first Christian centuries. That is why I primarily write for lay Catholics and detail the same spirituality that inspired and sustained those first Christian families in the early Church. If we cannot see that the family is at present the last bastion against the Church’s own destruction, then I can assure you that its enemies have. It is for this reason that the enemies of the Church are at present launching the most fierce and vicious attack on the family ever known in the history of the Church, or for that matter in the history of humanity. It is here, in the domestic Church that we must rally together and mutually support one another before trying to do for the modern pagan world, what the first Christian families did for the ancient pagan world. It needs totally committed lay people who are prepared to abandon themselves daily to the Holy Spirit in an ever-deepening prayer life. Only the development of an ever-deepening prayer life will enable you to become ever more porous to the Holy Spirit, who will do through you what is quite impossible without him. In the weeks ahead I will offer you a whole course on prayer that will enable you to do this.
In order to develop the sort of prayer that can continually help us to raise our hearts and minds to God as we practise the asceticism of the heart please visit my web-site and follow the Podcast on prayer entitled The Hermit – Wisdom from the Western Isles
David Torkington’s blogs, books, lectures and podcasts can be found at https://www.davidtorkington.com/