25 March 2009

Thierry via Thornton

I love this quote from Martin Thornton regarding William of Saint Thierry.

"Here are pinpointed two of the greatest needs in modern Anglican life: the sense of continuity in Christian living, and the sane authority of the Rule of the Church. Holy Communion, the Offices, periods of private prayer, are not isolated attempts to obtain doses of Cassianic grace,1 but links in a continuous chain of life in grace; a continuous response to God's never-ending love in a marriage solemnized at our Baptism. When duty is dull we might remember that washing the dishes can be just as much an act of marital love as an embrace.

As spiritual guide, William would not understand a request for a “rule of life”; to him there is only one, the threefold Benedictine system, and the Book of Common Prayer agrees with him. He would see little more than hypocrisy in a prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before a meeting of a Parochial Church Council whose members were irregular at the altar and neglectful of the Office.2 Our “National Days of Prayer” he would regard as farcical: none of this through emotional feeling against laxity, but because he would see no logic in isolated prayers, no purpose without continuity."3

1“The Semi-Pelagian doctrine taught by John Cassian (d. 440) admits that divine grace (assistance) is necessary to enable a sinner to return unto God and live, yet holds that, from the nature of the human will, man may first spontaneously, of himself, desire and attempt to choose and obey God. They deny the necessity of prevenient but admit the necessity of cooperative grace and conceive regeneration as the product of this cooperative grace.” A.A. Hodge (The Semi-Pelagian Theology of John Cassian).

2This refers to the offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer found in your copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

3Martin Thornton, English Spirituality: an Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition. London: S.P.C.K., 1963., pg. 98.

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