The Roots of Christian Mysticism

Second Term

Stefan G Reynolds

The story of how meditation was rediscovered within the Christian tradition as a form of contemplative prayer and how it is practiced by many Christians around the world.



This course teaches you how to meditate and helps you to establish it as a regular practice. It also tells the story of how meditation was rediscovered within the Christian tradition as a form of contemplative prayer and how it is practiced by many Christians around the world.


The course has 6 Lessons which has 3 topics each. Each lesson has a time for meditation so that the course is experiential and not just theoretical. The text introduces you to the topic with supplementary audio or video material. Going Further gives you practical suggestions to help your practice and self-awareness exercises for the week ahead. There is also some recommended reading. There is also opportunity to contact the Course Tutor who can guide you at any point.

The objective of the course is to introduce you to Christian Meditation as taught by John Main OSB and to help you establish it as a daily practice. This is the beginning of a journey – which we hope you will enjoy!


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.
St Clare and St Francis with their Crucified Lord, artist unknown

– 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

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.

Picture of a Dominican Master (Thomas Aquinas or Eckhart)

– Lesson 4

Meister Eckhart

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!

Portrait of Dante by Luca Signorelli at Orvieto Cathedral

– Lesson 5

Dante Alighieri

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.

Richard Rolle with the name of Jesus in his heart,  detail from “Religious Poems,” early 15th century (Cotton Ms. Faustina B. VI)

– 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.
cloud 1

– 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”.
Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich

– 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.

What’s Included with the Course:


Expand your perspective by engaging in peer discussions around learning objectives, or start your own topic.


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.

An Introduction to Christian Meditation

– A Six Week Course

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).