In This Issue:
From the Director
Last month we started a new series on classic writings on prayer. Last month's classic was On Prayer by Tertullian. This month's classic is Origen on Prayer. Born only 30 years after Tertullian, Origen was another of the most important of the early church fathers, and this treatise is a gem. However, it is quite different from the former. Tertullian spoke of prayer in a way that made it sound like corporate worship or liturgy, but Origen's warm take sounds much more like what we normally think of as prayer.
Origen agrees with Tertullian in many of the particulars about prayer: three times a day are best, with "holy hands" lifted up; women should be dressed modestly and veiled. Interestingly, he seems to allow women to preach if they are veiled: "any woman who prays or preaches with unveiled head dishonors her head." (Chapter 1)
However, Origen's definition of prayer seems to be much broader than that of Tertullian, encompassing not only spoken requests. He identifies from 1 Timothy four types of prayer: requests (supplication), prayer (requests for loftier things), intercession, and thanksgiving. In fact, in order to accommodate Paul's exhortation to pray without ceasing, Origen speaks of "the whole life of a saint as one great continuous prayer."
Origen on Prayer
Again I believe the words of the prayer of the saints to be full of power above all when praying 'with the spirit,' they pray 'also with the understanding,' which is like a light rising from the suppliant's mind and proceeding from his lips to gradually weaken by the power of God the mental venom injected by the adverse powers into the intellect of such as neglect prayer and fail to keep that saying of Paul's in accordance with the exhortations of Jesus, 'Pray without ceasing.' ... For the saying 'pray without ceasing' can only be accepted by us as a possibility if we may speak of the whole life of a saint as one great continuous prayer.
Read this classic at the CCEL
The Johannine Writings, Oratory of the Faithful Soul, Miracles of Jesus, Outlines of Moral Science, and Sokrates und die alte Kirke—What do these five books have in common? The answer: the same person digitized and installed all of them for the CCEL. This person, in fact, has single-handedly digitized over fifty books in the last 30 months, and hundreds of books over the last dozen years. Because of his prolific work, faithful CCEL followers know that this person is Charles Bowen.
While Charles Bowen's name is attached to hundreds of CCEL books, few know anything about this superman of book digitizing and installation. Charles has studied Spanish, German, Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) and Czech. After serving in the army and earning degrees from Golden Gate College and Ohio State, he worked as controller for a major mining machinery company for 31 years.
After retiring 13 years ago, Charles accidentally stumbled across our site and noticed that the CCEL was looking for volunteers. Shortly thereafter, Charles was learning HTML protocol, struggling with Hebrew and Greek text issues, and working on book installations eight hours a day (though he's recently dropped this to 5-6 hours per day).
Charles reports that volunteering is rewarding and satisfying in that it keeps him actively occupied on something constructive; it's a way for him to help society. The satisfaction of helping seems to be a common theme among CCEL volunteers. One of our newest volunteers, Hana Mouasher, e-mailed last month to say, "As for the proofreading, I do read a lot and I enjoy it. I have been wanting to read this book in particular for a long time now. So it really is me who is grateful for the push!"
We at the CCEL are not trying to play Tom Sawyer by attempting to convince subscribers that they should volunteer because it's good for them. We are deeply appreciative of the volunteers who keep the CCEL operational, and it's even better when our volunteers enjoy the work they do. Book installations and proofreading are just two of the tasks on which volunteers work. The CCEL has added a new Volunteer Discussion Group containing information on what tasks are available, how to get started, and where to go for assistance when help is needed. Bookmark the link or look under the Community tab on the CCEL home page.
Thanks to Charles and Hana and all the other volunteers who help keep CCEL up and running!
New Design for Hymnary
The new design for the Hymnary was unveiled last month at the annual conference of The Hymn Society. The Hymnary is a website co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and developed by the CCEL. The Hymnary is one of the most comprehensive resources for hymns anywhere on the Web, with information on over 25,000 hymns.
Read more about the Hymnary
Featured Book Group
Heretics by G.K. Chesterton
This group has completed its reading, but you can still go back and read through their discussions. Here's an excerpt from the group's summary of Chapter 1:
Chesterton tells us that from his perspective "in former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic." That whatever else he believed the heretic at least believed that it was he who was orthodox, it was the rest of the world which was wrong. As Chesterton saw it "The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right."; "he was more than a man; he was a church." But Chesterton bemoans the fact that "The word 'heresy' not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word 'orthodoxy' not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong."
Remember, then, dear friends, that the punishment of the flock was borne by the Shepherd, that the flock died in the Shepherd, and that the flock now live because the Shepherd lives; that their life is consequently a new life; that he will bring all his sheep that as yet are not called, out of their death in sin, even as he has been brought out of his own death; that he will lead onward and upward those that are called, even as he went onward and upward from the grave to the throne; that he will preserve them all their journey through, even as he was preserved by the blood of the everlasting covenant; and that he will perfect them even as he is perfect. Even as the God of peace has glorified his Son, so also will he bring all his chosen to eternal glory with him.
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