Welcome to Prayer to Contemplation

Some time ago the Founder of Essentialist Press came across the website and works of David Torkington, a renowned (and properly titled) ‘Mystical Theologian’. With a love and fascination of the spiritual life found in the Early Church, he was so impressed by David’s teaching on prayer, meditation and contemplation that he knew it was imperative to share his findings with others. Knowing that it is prayer, more than anything else, needed in the Church today, David was asked to produce a series entitled ‘Prayer to Contemplation’ with which to inaugurate the new multi-media Publishing House Essentialist Press. While always deeply prepared for each session, it should be noted that David always speaks without notes and from the heart. We believe the gift of truth and hope he brings comes directly from the Holy Spirit. At the same time, because David is speaking in such an organic manner, he (and we) ask for your indulgence if he makes a few small unintentional verbal slips and omissions.

Episode 1: Contemplation and the fruits of Contemplation

“There is only one way to perfection and that is to pray; if anyone points in another direction then they are deceiving you.” – Saint Teresa of Avila

In these times of chaos, uncertainty, and never-ending noise, we must look to the wisdom of our elders as a means for reorienting our mind, body, soul and strength to focus on that which is true, good, and beautiful. In this first session, David Torkington leads us into the fundamental teachings and practices of our faith, helping us to reorder ourselves and our lives as a means for rediscovering our purpose and ultimately find union with God.

Episode 2: The Morning Offering

In order to lay the foundation for a life of prayer David begins his practical teaching by stressing the need for morning and evening prayers. In this episode he deals with the practice of saying the Morning Offering, taking us back to early Christianity to show its origins and its importance in the early Church as well as its importance, therefore, for us today.

Episode 3: A Blue Print for Morning Prayer

After a few further preliminary remarks about the Morning Offering, David outlines his Blueprint for morning prayer and then details how this prayer can be used to sanctify each day, making it into a holy place where all we say and do is done for the greater glory of God.

Episode 4: Daily Prayer

Just as we need time for a cup of coffee in the morning, a cup of tea in the afternoon and a longer break for lunch to sustain us physically, David encourages us to find time for prayer too to sustain us spiritually.

Episode 5: Evening Prayer

In this Episode David completes his ‘Blueprint for Prayer’ and introduces us to his latest book Never Too Late to Love, published by Essentialist Press, in which his blueprint is further detailed together with nine prayers to help a beginner get started. It ends by referring to the present moral morass at the highest level in the Church and the urgent need therefore to turn back to the prayer that he will further detail on this course.

Episode 6: Repentance, Prayer and Sacrifice

Early Christianity had three inseparable ingredients: Repentance, Prayer and Sacrifice which, when harnessed together under the inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit generated a supernatural quality of love never experienced before. This love enabled those first Christians to love God, as he was on earth embodied in the person of Jesus Christ, through meditation. Then, it enables us to love him as he is now in Heaven through Mystical contemplation.

Episode 7: From Meditation to Contemplation

After a plea to stop fruitless criticism and infighting. this next episode makes an important distinction between Theology and Mystical Theology. The viewers are encouraged to take the next step in the spiritual life by turning to God’s love as it is embodied in Jesus Christ through meditation. We are then shown how this ancient aid to prayer leads to an ever deepening desire for union with God that can only be satisfied in mystical contemplation.

Episode 8: How to Meditate

In Episode 8 David tells us about his personal call to the religious life and how he first learnt how to meditate in depth in the Franciscan Novitiate. He then tells how, ‘like a bolt from the blue’, what had become a sweet and satisfying form of prayer, suddenly left him. It ultimately left him spiritually flat and he would have packed up prayer, and his religious calling, if it had not been for a moment of sublime inspiration received while meditating on Christ’s Passion and death.

Episode 9: A Personal Journey

David’s own personal journey in prayer continues in the Franciscan student house. Then, after eighteen month of travelling in darkness, light suddenly breaks into the gloom. Thanks to the discovery of the book ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’ by St John of the Cross, ‘The Interior Castle’ by St Teresa of Avila and the advice of a Theologian, David was encouraged to journey on. But, what he comes to realize above all else is that the mystic way is the only place to encounter and experience the type of love that can unite us with God.

Episode 10: Back to the Future

After briefly detailing the profound mystical spirituality that surrounded the Mass in the hundred years after the Council of Trent, David shows how it all ended thanks to a new heresy. Molinos, who introduced this heresy was condemned by the Church for falling into Protestantism and gross sexual indecency together with his followers. The vicious and lasting attack on authentic mystical spirituality threw the baby out with the bathwater and finally led to the sad and sick predicament in which the Church finds herself today. We can only be saved by going back to the faith of our Fathers – thence back to the future.

Bonus Episode 11: A Contemplative and Historical Summary

In this talk David makes it quite clear that the profound contemplative prayer, practiced by Christ himself, Our Lady, the first Apostles, and the first Catholic laity was the foundational heart and soul of early Christian Spirituality. When this prayer began to wane, mystical writers arose to lead them back to their origins until Quietism took it all away again. Without the fruits of contemplation, a new highbred form of moral teaching which prevailed eventually became unlivable. When this moralism deteriorates into immoralism only an immediate return to our spiritual origins becomes mandatory, for the new remnant, who seek to return to the one and only Christ-given Spirituality.

Bonus Episode 12: The Perfect Spiritual Balance

In the aftermath of the heresies of Arianism, Macedonianism and Pelagianism Christian spirituality lost the simple God-given spirituality that Jesus Christ introduced into the early Church. It was no longer Christ and his Holy Spirit who drew us up and into Our Risen Lord to be united with the Father. Thanks to Macedonianism, the Holy Spirit had been all but forgotten and it became the Human Spirit that would do for us what the Holy Spirit did before. In order to rectify this sad state of affairs David introduces to us, and explains, a new definition of prayer.

Bonus Episode 13: Without Love Nothing

If you were to make a league table of all the virtues without love at the top, then it would be purposeless. For it is only in practicing loving God that you can be led through meditation into Contemplation where you receive from God all the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit that can alone remake and reform you into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. The one man-made virtue that can guide, support, and direct you to him is perseverance in the daily loving that you practice when you turn to God in prayer and to the neighbor in need. The only sure criterion of your spiritual advancement is the speed with which you rise from your inevitable failures to stay the course, to keep persevering.  By persevering in the only love that can save, sanctify, and redeem you, you will come to see that this love becomes the means that God is always using to redeem the world through his son Jesus Christ, who now begins, as promised, to make his home in you.

Bonus Episode 14: Et Unum Sint

This is a crucial Episode if you want to understand how the profound contemplative spirituality that prevailed in the early Church has been lost to view over the centuries. Listen to this talk several times over and then read David Torkington’s recent book entitled ‘Family Spirituality’. In combining the two, you will get a simple, yet detailed view not just of the profound Trinitarian Spirituality that prevailed in the early Church, but of how it was all but destroyed by Arianism. Additionally, you’ll gain a greater understanding of how after Quietism this spirituality was replaced by what has been referred to as the ‘Cafeteria Spirituality’ that prevails today amongst the faithful. Fortunately, and far from leading us to despair, this talk (and David’s recent writings) promises a ‘New Beginning’ available in a new Catholic Renaissance that is all but upon us. The future is in our hands if we would only follow the simple but profound teaching of Our Lady that will lead us back into the sublime Trinitarian Spirituality on which our Church was founded, the spirituality for which Christ prayed at the Last Supper – Ut Unum Sint – “…that they may all be one”.

How to Pray Audiobook

More than a decade ago, David Torkington was asked by Radio Maria England to read his own book, “How to Pray” as a way to help the faithful re-engage with God and truly learn the path of a Saint through meditation and contemplation. Through the generosity of David, those recordings have been made available to Essentialist Press so that our community may benefit not only from his writing, but from his voice in reading this classic and timeless work.

Thanks to David, these audio lessons are also available to be downloaded for free for those that sign up for it. If you’re interested in receiving these mp3 files sign up for our newsletter below.