“A Ground-breaking Spiritual Classic” – From The Catholic Universe Christmas Edition 2017
David Torkingtons latest book – Wisdom from the Christian Mystics has already been described in superlatives by reviewers, even before it has been officially launched at the Athenaeum, Pall Mall (Admission is by invitation only). Kevin Grant, the former Editor in Chief of the Catholic Universe and former Master of the Catholic Writer’s Guild simply called it, ‘a masterpiece’. For a writer and a poet, who is so careful with words, it is remarkable that in his endorsement of the book he even suggests that the author could be canonized for writing it – hopefully not in the near future! We need to hear much more from a writer whose books have been declared mandatory reading by Sr Wendy Beckett. Usually such worthy books are beyond the comprehension of the ordinary punters in the pews, but not the books of this author. One of the first reviewers, Melanie Jean Juneau, editor-in-chief of Catholic Stand, put it this way:
“David Torkington is my mentor – a story teller who can deliver spiritual and theological truths couched in a fascinating riveting narrative. Everything he writes is filled with powerful insights, balancing personal reflection with experience and a profound depth of knowledge”. It rightly inspired Sr Rosaleen Shaw, former prioress of the new Dominican community at Sway, to write in her review: “The book is of course brilliant, as only David Torkington can write it. David is a prophet who has truly been given his gifts to be a voice in the Church”. But let the unique thesis outlined in the book speak for itself.
The pride of the Second Vatican Council was the New Liturgy that faithfully mirrored the ancient Eucharist, albeit in the vernacular. However, something terribly important was missing. That something is the profound daily mystical spirituality given to the early Church by Christ himself, that gave life and vitality to what can so easily become lifeless without it. Why nothing was done, nor has been done to remedy this situation, is a matter that Torkington addresses in this book. After many years of studying the early sources, the author is able to re-introduce us to this profound mystical spirituality which was the staple diet of everyone in the first centuries. He further shows us how, if practised as it once was, it can not only transform our personal lives, but the lives of the whole Christian community, as what was offered through every moment of the previous week in the prayer without ceasing, is offered together, in, with and through Christ at the Sunday liturgy. It is in giving that we receive and it was the otherworldly love received in practising this profound mystical spirituality promised by Christ to the Samaritan woman, that transformed an ancient pagan world into a Christian world in such a short time; as it can still do to-day. If our liturgy does not once again become the vital living expression of the profound spirituality first lived by Jesus himself, and then lived by his first followers, then the renewal that we endlessly talk about and yearn for, will repeatedly remain beyond our grasp. It is for this reason that the editor and publisher Sr Bernadine TSSF said: “This book is a ground-breaking spiritual classic that should be read and re-read and used as a blueprint for the radical restoration of Christian spirituality. If only it had been written, read and put into practice before the Second Vatican Council, the mass departure of so many priests and religious may well have been prevented. Furthermore, so much of the scandalous sexual behaviours of so many religious and priests who remained behind could have been prevented. For those who have not learned to come to know and experience the love of God, through the Wisdom of the Christian Mystics as detailed in this book, will inevitably seek its counterfeit to the torment of so many ‘injured innocents”.
However, the book is primarily practical and details a very clear and helpful daily spirituality for all, with exquisite prayers for morning and evening to set the scene for us to offer every moment of every day, in, with and through Christ to the Father. Nevertheless, the book carries with it a spiritual health warning on the inside cover, by Sr Wendy Beckett, that we fail to heed at our peril: “We can so easily read about prayer, about love, about Christian service and in the emotional happiness of our reading come to think that we are actually doing what we are only feeling. Fortunately, no one is more aware of this danger than David Torkington. He is passionately committed to stripping from the reader those veils of illusion that allow what is said to be enjoyed in theory only. His books should be mandatory reading.” None more so than Wisdom from the Christian Mystics.
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