The Roots of Christian Mysticism
Stefan G Reynolds
This course is for those who would like to discover the inner depths of the Christian tradition and its mystical dimension.
This course is for those who would like to discover the inner depths of the Christian tradition and its mystical dimension. By focusing on key mystics, this course introduces you to the rich stream of Christian mysticism and how it takes shape in different times. It spans 2000 years and is a journey in time. The Second Term covers the period from the 11- 15th century. You can see the full list of mystics covered below. Please watch the introduction where Laurence Freeman OSB talks more about The Roots of Christian Mysticism course.
The entire course is divided into 3 terms and each term consists of 8 Lessons. It is self-paced but each lesson will probably require 2.5 hours of your time to reflect on the material and listen to the audio visual links. However, if you resonant strongly with a particular mystic you may find yourself spending much more time and researching more deeply. Once you have registered on the course you can access the material for an unlimited period of time so that you can truly study at your own pace.
Each lesson focuses on a mystic, and we learn about the times they lived in, their life witness and their spirituality. Each lesson also has extracts from their writings and inspirations to help us in our spiritual practice. There is also a bibliography, audio and visual recordings to allow you to explore further. This course is not just an intellectual exercise but a journey from the mind to the heart – a spiritual journey of discovery.
So we invite you to meditate at the beginning of each lesson and to experience this contemplative dimension of faith. If you are new to meditation, each lesson begins with a short video which introduces you to the practice and we hope you find that helpful.
What is mysticism?
You will be able to watch a 30 minute talk by Prof Bernard McGinn, the preeminent scholar in the field giving a panoramic view of the mystical which sets the scene for the course.
Laurence Freeman OSB introduces the roots of Christian mysticism
What you will discover in this course:
– Lesson 1
Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen was a pioneer. She wrote the first Christian piece of theatre; she was the first woman to have written scientifically on medicine; the first to write about women’s issues; the first female composer; the first woman, in the medieval Church, to have permission to preach and the first woman to write books with the approval of the Pope.
– Lesson 2
St Francis and St Clare of Assisi
The collaboration between Francis and Clare exemplifies the beginnings of the new mysticism. Francis inaugurated a new form of Christian life lived ‘in the world’. Clare was 12 years younger than Francis, from a family of minor nobility in Assisi. She secretly left home and Francis gave her the monastic habit of his Order in 1212. Learn more about them and their fascinating relationship. Find out more about this fascinating woman.
– Lesson 3
The Beguines was a women’s movement originating in 12th century. We will look at three great Beguines – the great Beguine poet, Hadewijch of Brabant, the great Beguine saint, Mechtild of Magdeburg, and the great Beguine rebel, Margaret Porete.
– Lesson 4
Meister Eckhart was known in many milieus: as a Scholastic, as a preacher whose sermons filled churches, as a spiritual director and as a mystic revered for seeing the hidden things of God. As a preacher and teacher Meister Eckhart is never dull, never pious, always unexpected, amusing, paradoxical, and sometimes shocking. Be woken up!
– Lesson 5
Dante Alighieri joins the ranks of the mystics because of his ability to lift the secular mode of romance poetry onto Divine subjects, in particular, his great poem The Divine Comedy. Learn about his work and spirituality.
– Lesson 6
Richard Rolle of Hampole and Margery Kempe
In the fourteenth century there was a flowering of mysticism across Europe that coincided with a time of political and religious upheaval. The extremity of the times meant that there were many who wanted to dedicate their life to God. Richard Rolle and Margery Kempe express in their lives and spirituality the two sides of mysticism in England at this time; solitude and pilgrimage.
– Lesson 7
The Cloud of Unknowing
At the end of the fourteenth century a group of epistles which give a very practical approach to mysticism were written in English by an anonymous author. The Cloud of Unknowing, the longest of these epistles, shows from the beginning that the concern of this author’s writing is to give guidance on how “a soul is oned with God”.
– Lesson 8
Julian of Norwich
In 1373, a widow, Julian of Norwich, received a series of revelations about God’s unconditional love and reflected on them for twenty years, digging deep into the meaning of what was shown to her. Find out more about her in this fascinating lesson.
“The first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. We have instead to believe – not just mentally but with the whole of our being (that makes belief into faith) that he is with us, and we in him.”John Main, OSB
What’s Included with the Course:
Peer Discussion Groups
Expand your perspective by engaging in peer discussions around learning objectives, or start your own topic.
Searchable Global Network
Search our global network of meditators and find local groups to support you in your spiritual journey.
Get access to our vast and ever-growing resource library to supplement your practice at every stage.
About Stefan G Reynolds
Dr Stefan Gillow Reynolds is Retreat Director at Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland. He is a Benedictine Oblate of The World Community for Christian Meditation. He has a Theology Doctorate from London University and is the author of ‘Living with the Mind of Christ: Mindfulness in Christian Spirituality’ (DLT, 2016) and ‘The Wisdom of Love in the Song of Songs’ (Hikari, 2018).