In This Issue:
From the Director
Women at the CCEL
Sometimes when I see the title Early Church Fathers I wonder about the early church mothers. I'm assuming there were some. What did they think? Did they write anything down? It is to our loss that society at the time apparently made such a thing impossible. However, that has been slowly changing over the centuries, and now, as they say, some of my favorite CCEL authors are women.
Many of my favorite authors are saints or Christians who had a particularly strong relationship with God, and sainthood seems not to suffer from male dominance. St. Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection and Interior Castle are two first-rate classics on the spiritual life. The Autobiography of Madame Guyon is a remarkable story of growth into fellowship with God in a woman whose life was in many ways miserable. Guyon is considered a quietist by some. Why not see what you think? More recently, HW Smith's Christian's Secret of a Happy Life is an enjoyable and compelling (and possibly slightly controversial) meditation on the life hid with Christ in God that would be a good book for a discussion group.
Why not read one of these books this month?
In honor of Women's History Month, this issue of The CCEL Times highlights women authors of books, hymns, meditations, and articles. It is appropriate that Mary Hulst's featured article is introduced by an illustration derived from birthpangs. In the article, Mary Hulst discusses the very difficult issue of pain and how faith in our Lord can be a comfort in difficult times. She concludes the article by writing, "We live in a world where anything can go wrong. Which is why we need more than ever to hear these words of comfort from our Lord, who says that his return to this earth is even more certain than the birth of an Autumn baby." After reading the article, post a comment about your thoughts using the link below.
Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries
Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries by Ruth Ellis Messenger is a collection of scholarly papers. The CCEL has recently added these papers to our electronic library. In addition, our sister site, Hymnary.org, continues to add hymns, hymnals, and additional resources related to hymns.
What We're ReadingLife of St. Teresa of Jesus, of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel
by St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Readers interested in basic Christian mysticism need look no further than Saint Teresa of Avila. Theresa expresses in beautiful language her deep relationship to God> Her words of wisdom and ever-hopeful outlook have inspired Christians everywhere for centuries. The Spanish Carmelite nun's autobiography provides a perfect entrance point to the world of mental prayer. She begins her story with tales of her childhood in the early 1500s--the death of her mother, how she became a nun, and the hardships of her life including illness and a period of "lukewarmness" during which she ceased to pray. St. Teresa also relates the vision and instructions she received form God later in her life. This book also contains St. Teresa's writings on the four states of mental prayer. In the first stage, believers learn to pray. In the second, they experience the supernatural aspect of prayer. In the third, the soul is bathed in the pleasure of God's presence; and in the fourth, senses are abandoned in a sort of out-of-body experience where the soul feels only divine union. This book also contains a series of "relations," or letters she sent to colleagues giving further thoughts of her beliefs. St. Teresa's warm and personal descriptions of union with God provide a wonderful and accessible starting point for engagement in her life her theology of mysticism.
-The Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Featured Hymn"Take My Life and Let It Be" by Frances Havergal (1836-1879)
Frances Havergal recounts the following story about the writing of this hymn: I went for a little visit of five days [to Areley House, Worcestershire, in December 1873]. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. [God] gave me the prayer, "Lord, give me all this house." And He just did! Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit. . . I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart, one after another, till they finished with "Ever, only, all, for Thee."
-Psalter Hymnal Handbook
"Meditation VII: The Washing of the Feet"
Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun recognized as the recipient of many mystic gifts and vision. She is believed to have received the full stigmata, of which she reported suffering the physical effects of Jesus' punctured hands, feet, side, and forehead. Moved by her religious piety, German poet Clemens Brentano was inspired to document her ordeal. Brentano spent many months with Emmerich as she dictated the details of her encounters, which Brentano later compiled into the book The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this book, Emmerich's visions of Christ's agony and death are documented in unimaginable detail. While Emmerich's sacred wounds were witnessed by many during her time, the highly poetical and extravagant imagery in Brentano's book have led scholars to believe that Brentano may have embellished her descriptions as he recorded them. Consequently, this account of Emmerich's visions should be appreciated for its meditative value rather than for its historical accuracy.-CCEL
Read this meditation at CCEL