The Roots of Christian Mysticism: First Term

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 First Term covers the period from Jesus to St Bernard of Clairvaux in the 11th 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.

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8 Lessons

Course Overview

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.

This online course is inspired by the book Journey to the Heart: Christian Contemplation through the Centuries ed. Kim Nataraja and you can buy the book here.

What is mysticism?

In this 30 minute talk by Prof Bernard McGinn, the preeminent scholar in the field, gives a panoramic view of the mystical and sets the scene for the course. He explores the nature of mysticism and why Christian mysticism is so important.  What does the word “mysticism” mean? Is it an exclusive state, just for the few or is it for all?  What is a mystic and why are they crucial to humankind? And why does Karl Rahner, a 20th century theologian say “The Christian of the future will either be a mystic or will not be a Christian at all?”

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Lesson 1 - Jesus Christ

Lesson 2 - St. Paul and St. John

Lesson 3 - Clement of Alexandria and Origen

Lesson 4 - The Desert Fathers and Mothers

Lesson 5 - St Augustine of Hippo

Lesson 6 - The Cappadocian Family and The Jesus Prayer

Lesson 7 - St Benedict

Lesson 8 - St Bernard of Clairvaux

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