Parish Prayer Life

By Fr. Matthew Dallman obl OSB

Fr Martin Thornton (1915-1986) was a farmer, Anglican priest, and theologian. Spurred by a mystical “beech tree experience” as a farmer, he pursued Holy Orders, receiving degrees from King’s College, London (under Eric Symes Abbott) and later Christ College, Cambridge (under Ian Ramsey). He was twice visiting lecturer at The General Theological Seminary in New York, where he received an honorary doctorate in 1966, and from 1975 until his death was Canon Chancellor of Truro Cathedral under Bp Graham Leonard, who called Fr Thornton “the most natural and supernatural Christian I have known.” He wrote thirteen books that focused on pastoral and ascetical theology, always in a mode of ressourcement attuned to Prayer Book pastoral sensibility, with wide-ranging topics that include scriptural exegesis, liturgical life especially the importance of the daily Office, “parochial theology” (a term he coined), personal devotion and prayer, spiritual direction in both its art and science, asceticism, as well as pastoral studies on specific voices within what he calls the “English School of Catholic spirituality” from Anselm to the Caroline Divines and on through Macquarrie, with most attention given to Margery Kempe. His book The Purple Headed Mountain was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book for 1963.

Fr Matthew C. Dallman, Obl.S.B. is a parish priest for the Parish of Tazewell County in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield (Illinois). He is an Oblate to St John’s Abbey, Collegeville (MN) and the leading authority on the theology of Fr Martin Thornton, whose works he has exclusive permission to reissue. He has an M.T.S. from Nashotah House (with thesis on the theology of Martin Thornton, which included meetings with Thornton’s wife Monica and daughter Magdalen, along with Benedicta Ward, Rowan Williams, Allison Milbank, and George Westhaver), an M.A. in Liturgical Ministry from Catholic Theological Union, and baccalaureate from Washington University in St Louis (English Literature and Creative Writing). For ten years he has had an active social-media ministry to promote Thornton’s insights on prayer, parish life, and ascetical spirituality, which led him seven years ago to found Akenside Institute for English Spirituality (AIES) and its publishing arm, Akenside Press. Its purpose is to develop resources that aid the rediscovery of orthodox-catholic reality in Prayer Book parish life. He lives in Pekin, Illinois (near Peoria) with his wife, five children, seven chickens, two cats, and a dog. He bakes traditional sourdough bread to feed the natives.

The talk will be given via Zoom – use this link to schedule the presentation in your Zoom App. If you’re unable to join using the Zoom App you’ll be able to dial into the presentation on your phone using these details:

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Meeting ID: 646 439 9143
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After the presentation a recording will be uploaded to this page.