Martin Thornton on the Daily Office  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Martin Thornton (1915-1986), a priest in the Church of England, was a leading Anglican spiritual writer of the 20th century.  He wrote a number of books including Anglican Spirituality and The Heart of the Parish:  a theology of the remnant.  He stressed the importance of individual Christians developing a rule of life, based upon the Eucharist, some version of the Daily Office, and private devotion or contemplative prayer.  In this essay, excerpted below, Matthew Dallman discusses several of Thornton's insights into the Office.


1)  The Our Father prayer is the sole domenical basis for the Office; it establishes its corporate nature, its teleology, its disposition, its paradigm.  The Didache confirms its centrality to corporate set prayer.

2)  The Office can only be understood theologically within the larger theology of Regula-Office-Mass-Devotion--which is the ascetical application of the doctrine of the Trinity:  Office associates with the Father, Mass with the Son, and Devotion with the Spirit.

3)  The Office is objective praise to the Father by the Body of Jesus...Sanctification of time is by our attentiveness to the abundant activity of the Holy Spirit...

4)  Sober assessment of the pastoral situation today must conclude that the reason few people do the Office likely stems from the fact that the authorized Anglican Office today was crafted for a late-medieval society...The Anglican Office has rightly endured as a Benedictine inheritance, yet now reform is necessary.

5)  ...The ideal is memorization of the Office, and no books.

Schmemann on Sacraments  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Father Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983) was one of the most prominent Eastern Orthodox theologians of the 20th century.  Born in Tallinn, Estonia, his family soon relocated to Paris, the home of a thriving community of White Russian exiles.  He was educated at the Institut Saint-Serge, an Orthodox seminary, and also earned a doctorate from the University of Paris.  In the late 1940's he was offered a position at St Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary, just north of New York City.  He remained there for the rest of his life.  He produced a number of significant books and was an adjunct professor at several New York area seminaries, including General Theological Seminary.

In The Eucharist:  Sacrament of the Kingdom (St Vladimir Seminary Press, 1987) Schmemann exemplifies the Orthodox stress on the sacraments as the means by which not only individual Christians, but the entire created universe, is sanctified and enabled to participate in divine life.  The quote below is found on pp 33-34.  A hat-tip to the Eclectic Orthodoxy site.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ the Orthodox ecclesial experience and tradition, a sacrament is understood primarily as a revelation of the genuine nature of creation, of the world, which, however much it has fallen as "this world", will remain God's world, awaiting salvation, redemption, healing and transfiguration in a new earth and a new heaven.  In other words, in the Orthodox experience a sacrament is primarily a revelation of the sacramentality of creation itself, for the world was created and given to man for conversion of creaturely life into participation in divine life.  If in baptism water can become a "laver of regeneration", if our earthly food--bread and wine--can be transformed into partaking of of the body and blood of Christ, if, to put it briefly, everything in the world can be identified, manifested, and understood as a gift of God and participation in the new life, it is because all of creation was originally summoned and destined for the fulfillment of the divine economy--"then God will be all in all."