Tag Archives: Penitence

Marian Penitence

“Penitence,” wrote Martin Thornton, “becomes a search for the truth of one’s vocation” (The Purple Headed Mountain, Chap. 5). Penitence can take on this character when we accept the possibility, which the biblical revelation insists is fact, that all of God’s creation is an integrated, purposeful, lively unfolding with a unique role for each and every thing, including us. Certainly true penitence begins as Our Lord told Philip: “Follow me” (John 1:43). This becomes adventurous when it grows into a disposition of life: Be Following Him. If we are, in the phrase of English fourteenth-century writer Walter Hilton, to reform into the likeness of Jesus, that journey of holiness begins in finding harmony with our surroundings, as Jesus surely had with His, and goes awry without it.

Perhaps the only valid test here is moral theology: have I committed fewer sins? Sin is separation and paying lip service to the first line of the Nicene Creed is the height of Pride, the basis of all separation. Not only when receiving Communion, reciting the Office, or studying Scripture, but always and everywhere, are we choosing to follow—opening to, and in this sense, “thanking”—God Almighty as He actualizes in our lives? And do we use His creation and His creatures to His greater glory? For the revelation disallows any version of “God is not here and doesn’t much care.”

“Repent and be baptized,” is how Peter exhorted the first Christians (Acts 2:38). But as Paul reminded Titus, our baptism is more than a rite; it is a way of life, a sacramental status before God. Peter perhaps implied, “Choose God and then spend the rest of your life working out the implications of that choice.” Be baptized—just as we say, “be mature” or “be yourself”: our Lord demands we own our status, incorporated into Him “in virtue of his own mercy” (Titus 3:5). Baptism plunges us into Trinitarian reality through the glory of material water, fragrant oil, and audible words. Within such paradox lies enough food for Lenten mystagogy several times over.

To wit: “You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51). It was Saint Augustine who wrote, “Every visible thing in this world is put under the charge of an angel” (De diversis quaestionibus, 79). This staggering statement is also exemplary ascetical theology, the articulation of spiritual growth: for only through our sense perception is God’s presence available to us. As God called Our Lady by sensible means of Gabriel, we are called by God aided by the angelic host who through the visible and perceivable bring the invisible and incomprehensible beckoning before us, inviting adventure anchored in Christ.

[The above meditation is my contribution for Day 4 of Lent to From Dust to Triumph: Reflections for a Holy Lent published by Nashotah House.]

“The Purple Headed Mountain” is now for sale!

The Purple Headed Mountain by Martin ThorntonDecember 16, 2014 marks the return of Martin Thornton’s classic text, The Purple Headed Mountain, to in-print status. Just shy of 53 years after its original printing by London’s Faith Press, we at Akenside Press are very glad to reissue The Purple Headed Mountain — an “authorized reissue” as we received permission from Monica Thornton, Martin’s wife, to reissue all thirteen books of his corpus.

All new artwork, all new typesetting, and a new introduction by yours truly. We discussed it in house for quite some time, we did a 5-week short course on the book at Saint Paul’s, Riverside, we sought outside opinions on whether the book remained topical (across the board, the answer was a resoundingly affirmative), we solicited advice on how best to present the book as well as contextualize it, and we did all the hard, boring stuff of book production — and now, with great pleasure and humility, we can say that you can now purchase the book here. How gratifying!

Simply put, this is a text that can be put to immediate use in Anglican parishes who are seeking to support and sustain Catholic reality — that is, faith, culture, imagination, theology, practice. It is both accessible and sophisticated, intelligent and practical. It connects doctrine with life, and on every page, even every paragraph, it evokes prayer and contemplation. As Archbishop Michael Ramsey wrote in the Foreword,“At every point there is a down-to-earth practicality about its treatment of the spiritual life.” This is orthodoxy both adventurous and awe-filled.

You can find a longer description of the book on our Facebook page. Meanwhile, here are the nitty, gritty details:

106 pages
5 in x 7 in
ISBN: 978-0-692-34106-3
Perfect bound
Color cover on 80-lb paper, natural
Inside pages on 70-lb paper, natural

A new introduction by Matthew Dallman
Original foreword by Archbishop Michael Ramsey
Original author’s preface by Martin Thornton

Further description at the book’s ordering page. Order your copy today!