I’ve just now learned about a program that looks really wonderful: A consortium of organizations in San Antonio, TX, including the local chapter of Contemplative Outreach, the Oblate School of Theology, and a local Ecumenical Center, have joined forces to sponsor a three year program called Christian Mysticism: History, Wisdom and Insights. The program consists of a monthly series of Saturday morning sessions that include a presentation on a major mystic or school of mysticism from throughout the history of Christian spirituality, along with time for group discussion and the practice of silent prayer. They have quite an impressive array of presenters, including Ronald Rolheiser, Carl Arico, Wendy Wright, and Susan Muto. The program is not onerously expensive ($200 per year), and those who stick it out for three years will receive a thorough grounding in the sweep and grandeur of the Christian contemplative tradition.
Here’s the syllabus:
Year 1: Foundations to the Early Middle Ages
• Introduction to Christian Mysticism: The Mystical Jesus.
• Mysticism in the Hebrew Scriptures
• Mysticism in the New Testament: John and Paul
• Desert Fathers and Mothers
• Origen and Clement of Alexandria
• Cappadocian Fathers: Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa
• Celtic Spirituality: Matter Matters
Year 2: Christian Mysticism During the Classical Period
• Franciscan Spirituality
• Pseudo-Dionysius and Eastern Mysticism
• Meister Eckhart and John Ruusbroec
• Ignatius of Loyola
• Cloud of Unknowing and Julian of Norwich
• Dominican Spirituality (Dominic and Catherine of Siena)
• French Mystics (Francis de Sales, etc.)
• John of the Cross
• Teresa of Avila
Year 3: The Modern and Contemporary Period
• Russian Spirituality
• Protestant Mystics (the Quakers, William Law, etc.)
• Thérèse of Lisieux
• Psychology and Spirituality
• Simone Weil
• Thomas Merton
• John Main
• Bede Griffiths
• Christian Mysticism Today
While I don’t think it’s perfect (e.g. not enough attention paid to Eastern Orthodoxy, or to the Cistercians, the Beguines, or Guigo the Carthusian), it’s still an awesome syllabus, and I for one am jealous for not living in San Antonio. But maybe something like this could be put together in Atlanta. What do you think?
Here’s the website about the program: www.christianmysticismsa.org. If you live in San Antonio, I’d encourage you to sign up.