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In This Issue:
From the Director
Reading Christian classics has been a key element in the development of my spiritual life, as I've reflected elsewhere. But in order to put ourselves in a position where these classics can help us grow, we have to give them the time and space to affect us. At times of stress, grief, or life-changing decisions, God often gives special encouragement to spend time in prayer and reading and meditating on the wisdom of the ages. At other times we may need other sorts of support. One possibility is the support of other Christians who can help spur interest and provide some accountability.
This month's featured classic is Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, recommended by Tom DeVries (below). Tom is going to lead an online book study on this book, which will be conducted in a CCEL discussion forum that can only be accessed by members of the discussion group. It will be limited to about 35 members, since that number in the past has generated a reasonable amount of discussion. If you are interested in joining this group, first login to www.ccel.org, then go to the Spiritual Exercises group page and click the "subscribe" link on the left sidebar.
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola
There are classic texts of Christian piety that are hard to read. Piety has never been characterized by ease. Yet too often, the sparring between Christian factions causes us to set aside texts that contain God's own wisdom for our lives. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola is one such book.
Ignatius is known as the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and a leader in the Counter-Reformation. For this he is often vilified by Protestants as nothing more than a Papal lackey. However, his Exercises, written before he founded the Jesuit Order, contain the foundations of a spiritual vibrancy reminiscent of his spiritual fathers Francis of Assisi and Thomas a'Kempis. ...
Using the CCEL for classic reflections on the Psalms
I found the CCEL to be invaluable while writing my recent book, The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship. My new book features three interludes of "Testimonies on the Psalms": Patristic Testimonies, Reformation-Era Testimonies, and Modern Testimonies.
The CCEL provides such an accessible way to find many of the source texts that I included, and to do some focused searching for texts I might have missed.
It's fairly common when reading various works on the Psalms to hear that Ambrose or Athanasius had something interesting to say about the Psalms. But unless you're a veteran historical scholar, it can be a little daunting to actually locate these texts. On the CCEL, I can search by author and do some simple word searches within documents to get to the right place a lot more quickly.
Of course, I find it very valuable, once I've been on the CCEL, to also check for the possibility of later historical critical editions that have been published that are not yet available on the CCEL. But the CCEL is my first stop for researching early church texts in English.
Some of the most appreciative early responses to my Psalms book have been about those historical texts. I hope they lead readers to explore more of these voices from history at the CCEL.
Read classic reflections on the Psalms from the CCEL.
John Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and author of the new book, The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources (Eerdmans).
How have you used the CCEL to deepen your research, discover new voices, and enliven your faith? Submit a usage testimonial.
Classic Reflections on the Psalms
Now the Prophets teach certain things, the Historians and the Law teach others, and Proverbs provides still a different sort of advice, but the Book of Psalms encompasses the benefit of them all. It foretells what is to come and memorializes history; it legislates for life, gives advice on practical matters, and serves in general as a repository of good teachings, carefully searching out what is suitable for each individual.
- Basil (c.330-379), from "Homilies on the Psalms," as quoted in The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship.
Classic Reflections on the Ascension of Christ
The resurrection is naturally followed by the ascension into heaven. For although Christ, by rising again, began fully to display his glory and virtue, having laid aside the abject and ignoble condition of a mortal life and the ignominy of the cross, yet it was only by his ascension to heaven that his reign truly commenced. This the Apostle shows, when he says he ascended "that he might fill all things," (Eph. 4:10); thus reminding us, that under the appearance of contradiction, there is a beautiful harmony, inasmuch as though he departed from us, it was that his departure might be more useful to us than that presence which was confined in a humble tabernacle of flesh during his abode on the earth.
- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 14
Read this classic at the CCEL.
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