David Torkington on the Cloud of Unknowing

20200113_170350Before the pandemic, some of us in our parish began a Lenten School of Prayer, during which we have been reading David Torkington’s book   Wisdom from the Christian Mystics: How to Pray the Christian Way.

We began meeting via the internet two weeks ago and we have another meeting this evening.   I’m glad we did, because it has helped me keep my focus on prayer despite all the temptation to binge on social media and bad news.

During this time of social distancing and isolation, many of us are experiencing anxiety, loneliness, and fear.   Some of us have had loved ones who have become sick or have died; some of us have loved ones who work on the front lines in the healthcare industry or as hospital chaplains; some of us have lost our jobs and none of us knows what the future holds regarding the economy.

Prayer helps ease these fears because it draws us closer to God who is the Prince of Peace.

However, maybe some of us are finding the old tried and true methods of drawing closer to God are not “working” in the same way they used to.  Even with the imposed extra time we have at home, maybe we’re finding it’s not that easy to pray—and that maybe the excuse we had that we were “too busy” masked something deeper that now comes to light.

One of the classics in the English Catholic mystical tradition is The Cloud of Unknowing and now might be a time to revisit this patrimonial work.  To help with that, David Torkington kindly send me a chapter of his book  Wisdom from the Western Isles on The Cloud with permission to post it here on the blog.

Chapter 5


The Cloud of Unknowing


Once again Peter arrived almost half an hour late. It was most uncharacteristic of him, but I knew he had a lot on his plate.

“Now that I have briefly outlined the mystic way,” he said, “let me come to the predicament in which you find yourself.

“Everybody who prays seriously and consistently for any length of time will eventually find themselves on the other side of first fervour, at the threshold of the night. This is the moment when the vast majority who come this far in prayer usually pack it all in – I know I nearly did. All my attempts at prayer were a complete failure. Each time I tried to pray in the way I once could I simply got nowhere. The Scriptures, the devotions, the meditations that moved me before moved me no more. Two tormentors always accompanied me to prayer. The first was a raking desire for God, the second was a mind full of distractions that drove me crazy, because I couldn’t do anything about them. So my heart was restless inside and outside the prayer that I thought was pointless. I was continually tempted to pack it all in and do something more constructive with my time.”


“That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling,” I said, “and the truth is I have been making a run for it, but I don’t seem to be getting very far because nothing satisfies me any more. I can’t even get any pleasure out of the hobbies and the enthusiasms that used to excite me before.”

“Right,” said Peter. “All that you are saying confirms that you are on the right, not the wrong, path. In this strange new world in which you find yourself, it’s as if you are caught between heaven and earth. Your heart wants to reach out and touch the love that has already touched you, but endless distractions vie with one another to draw you away from what you desperately desire. What you must now learn to do is to keep your heart’s gaze fixed upon God, come hell or high water – nothing else matters. You can forget all the forms of prayer that helped you so much in the past, because they won’t help you to continue in the future. Now you must learn to travel by contemplation, not by meditation.


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David Warren on Anglo-Catholicism for Real

David Warren, a well-known Toronto-based writer, columnist, and former editor of The Idler, was the second speaker at our Anglican Tradition Conference this past November. We will be publishing a full version of this talk in our journal in due course, but his remarks on the day – full of his typical erudition and humour – can be viewed in full on Facebook and on YouTube now.

DSC_6067-sHe talked about his conversion experience, both to Christian faith and then to the full Catholic form thereof (“The Catholic religion is the Christian religion par excellence”), and the role that Anglicanism played in that experience.

He talked about smells and bells and the marks of Anglicanism that drew one into the faith, including “formality, dignity, reverence, manners, dress, comportment, modesty, custom, courtesy, propriety, decorum, form, taste, decency, reason, logic,” and so on.

It was ironic that the Anglican church claimed to be Catholic at a time when many Catholic priests he came across avoided proclaiming their Catholicism, almost as if they were embarrassed by it.

“All Christians share, not only Anglicans, this sense of homecoming associated with the Church, and indeed the Anglican ordinariate has a great deal to do with coming home.”

DSC_6068-sHe spoke of Sir Thomas More – whom we ought to consider a great patron of the ordinariate – and other luminaries of the Anglican church, including Lancelot Andrewes, Richard Hooker, Austin Farrer, and Eric Mascall. What they all had in common – and what made them so Anglican – was reverting to Roman teaching.

The ordinariates do of course make the liturgy “understanded of the people”, and we must share our mass in its more ecclesial English.

But the Anglican ordinariate is about more than just making the mass available in a Church English; it is about re-assimilating into Catholicism a marvellous, broad, Catholic tradition that goes back before Thomas More, which goes back to the 12th century and earlier, back to the arrival of the Normans, and even to before them.

“If the Anglican ordinariate fulfills its vocation within the Church… it will do something glorious.”

People speaking the English language are now leading the movement in the Catholic Church back to Catholicism, and the ordinariates can now develop an authority, and recover the marvellous qualities of the old Anglican ministries and the old Anglican services.

David Warren’s talk was entertaining, informative, and most appreciated, and we’re delighted to share this with a wider audience. His lengthier article on which this talk was based will be published in an upcoming issue of our journal, but for now we are pleased to present this video of his talk.

Divine Worship Mass for Passion Sunday

Online Masses today in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham can be found here.


Msgr. Carl Reid of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross celebrated Mass here.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham will be live streaming Mass Sunday at 9:00 a.m. CDT (10:00 a.m. EDT).

St. John Vianney Catholic Church will live stream Mass at 9:00 a.m. CDT (10:00 a.m. EDT) via their Facebook page.

My parish Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be live streaming Mattins at 9:20 a.m. and Holy Mass at 10:00 a.m. here.   You can find the bulletin and hymns here. 

Church of the Incarnation in Orlando will offer a pre-recorded sung Mass at 10:15 a.m. EDT via YouTube below.


Also at 10:00 a.m. EDT, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, will be broadcasting the Mass live.

Our Lady & St. John will be streaming on their Facebook page , Sunday March 22nd at 3:15 PM EDT.

St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Omaha will be recording Mass tomorrow and putting it up on their YouTube channel.

Mount Calvary in Baltimore will broadcast Mass for the Fourth Sunday Lent  at 10:00 a.m. EDT via their YouTube channel.

Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas will be live streaming the 11:00 a.m. CDT Mass via its Facebook page. The recorded Mass will then be uploaded to Atonement’s YouTube channel.


Sat-Sun 9 a.m. 12 pm. 2 p.m. (PDT)
Mon-Fri 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. (PDT)

Go here to the Holy Martyrs Facebook page to watch these Masses live.

Here are some of the Facebook pages of Ordinariate parishes.   Leave a note in the comments section if I missed yours.


Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church,  Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

St. John Henry Newman, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


Our Lady and St. John Catholic Church, Louisville, Kentucky

Holy Martyrs Catholic Church, Murietta, California

St. Alban’s Catholic Church, Rochester, New York

St. Barnabas Catholic Church, Omaha, Nebraska

Holy Nativity Catholic Church, Payson, Arizona

Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, San Antonio, Texas

St. Thomas Becket Catholic Church, Fort Worth, Texas

St. George Catholic Church, Republic, Missouri

St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Cleburne, Texas

The Catholic Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Arglington, Texas

Please let me know if you would like your Facebook page added here.


Bishop Lopes at our Toronto conference

Bishop Lopes came all the way from Houston to speak at our 2019 Conference on the Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church in Toronto about the mission of the ordinariates ten years on from the promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and his talk can now be viewed online on both Facebook and YouTube. The bishop, who had joined us for our Solemn Mass and Te Deum in Thanksgiving for Anglicanorum Coetibus the evening before, as well as the reception afterwards, touched on a lot of great topics:

Screenshot (262)The Anglican patrimony goes beyond just the liturgical, but it is nourished by what we celebrate in the liturgy. What we do as Catholics should have a distinct accent and shape as we live out our faith. And when people aren’t sure who we are or what we’re about, it opens up a conversational space for real evangelization and catechesis.

Screenshot (200)Our tradition goes back well before the Reformation, and saints like Augustine, Gregory, and Osmund brought about a patrimony that expresses the faith differently from Rome, that is older in some respects than the Tridentine books, and that is rich and only beginning to be explored. Our liturgical patrimony isn’t the entirety of it, but it is the most tangible part and opens up the space for exploring the less tangible elements. The Catholic liturgical principle of seasonality can help accommodate the varying options contained in our missal.

Young people are particularly evangelized by authentic charity, beauty, and intellectual seriousness, in each of which areas the ordinariates are well equipped. Anglo-Catholicism always placed a strong emphasis on direct service to the community. “From the drip of the high candle to the poorest of the poor there’s a direct line.” Our Anglican liturgical patrimony certainly gets high marks in its beauty, which communicates far more than words, in its imagery, its sound, its colour. And with respect to intellectual seriousness, with Newman, the Oxford Movement, and some of our other thinkers, we can certainly hold our own in the intellectual conversation as well.

The bishop spoke highly of the ordinariates’ ability to be a powerful evangelizing force. His full talk is worth a listen:

Thanks to His Grace for this great kick-off to our conference.

The Annunciation of Our Lord

What a joyful day in the Church calendar! The moment when the Incarnation began!

Here are some links if you are looking for a Catholic Mass according to Anglican tradition.

For Masses of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, go here.

Mass with Fr. Mayer, of St. James Catholic Church today


Msgr. Carl Reid, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross celebrates Mass for the Annunciation here:

Other Masses today.

Watch the Facebook page of Holy Martyrs Catholic Churchin Murietta, California.  Fr. Bartus has been celebrating Mass every day at 12:30 pm. Pacific time.

St. Alban’s Catholic Church in Rochester, New York,  will  offer Mass this evening at 7 pm.

I will post others as I am made aware of them. Please leave information in the comments section if you’d like your service added.

St. Aelred Catholic Church in Athens, Georgia has a live streamed Mass.

Vigil Masses of Annunciation from yesterday:

Mount Calvary Catholic Church, Baltimore, MD


Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ottawa, First Evensong and Vigil Mass: