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A Course in Christian Mysticism


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Table of Contents

Foreword - Michael N. McGregor
Editor's Prologue
Lecture 1: The Aim of This Course
Lecture 2: Mystical Theology in St. John's Gospel
Lecture 3: Martyrs and Gnostics (Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Origen)
Lecture 4: Divinization and Mysticism (The Cappadocian Fathers)
Lecture 5: Evagrius Ponticus
Lecture 6: Contemplation and the Cosmos (Maximus the Confessor)
Lecture 7: The Dionysian Tradition
Lecture 8: Western Mysticism: The Influence of St. Augustine
Lecture 9: St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Lecture 10: St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs. .
Lecture 11: Fourteenth Century Mysticism: The Beguines, Eckhart, Tauler
Lecture 12: Spanish Mysticism: St. Teresa of Avila and Others
Lecture 13: St. John of the Cross: Dark Nights and Spiritual Crises
More Sources and Readings
Group Discussion Topics and Questions
Editor's Notes

About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Catholic convert, Cistercian monk and hermit, poet, contemplative, social critic, and pioneer of interreligious dialogue, was a seminal figure of twentieth-century American Christianity. Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar and one of religion's most respected writers. His books include When Saint Francis Saved the Church; The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started; The Complete Francis of Assisi; and The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation. He edited A Course in Christian Mysticism by Thomas Merton, published by Liturgical Press. Sweeney writes regularly for America and The Tablet, and is publisher and editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Michael N. McGregor is an author, journalist, editor, teacher, and writing consultant based in Portland, Oregon. A professor of English and Creative Writing at Portland State University, he holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in New York and a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon. McGregor is on the board of directors for the International Thomas Merton Society and author of Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, Fordham University Press, 2015.


"With both Merton's masterful lectures on Christian mysticism, and the helpful guide questions at the end, this book presents not only an intellectual exploration of the mystical texts but also a profound spiritual engagement with contemplative prayer for those who wish to drink deeply from the wells of this spiritual tradition."Carmel Posa, SGS, Executive Director, New Norcia Institute
"A Course in Christian Mysticism is an excellent source for those who want to begin a systematic study of the great early masters of the Christian mystical tradition. Merton offers us his keen perception of these teachings with an eye to our contemporary search for the Divine, that `mystery of our union with God.' Merton's command of the sources is aided by Sweeney's skilled editing, which makes Merton's lectures more accessible to readers. I highly recommend this resource."Laura Swan, OSB, Associate editor of Magistra
"This wonderful volume transports the reader across time and space and permits us to become students of Thomas Merton alongside his novitiate formandi. The genius of Merton's scholarly mind and prayerful spirit are on full display as he takes us on a historical and spiritual journey of discovery. A Course in Christian Mysticism is not only a must-read text for fans of Merton, but also a great introduction to the history of Christian mystical spirituality through the centuries."Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Catholic Theological Union
"A fresh, engaging, and accessible course on Christian mysticism from a genuine Christian mystic-this book is a treasure. In his impressive synthesis, Jon M. Sweeney has made some of Thomas Merton's best lectures on some of the greatest Christian mystics available to everyone."Joseph Raab, STL, PhD, Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Siena Heights University, Co-Editor of The Merton Annual: Studies in Culture, Spirituality and Social Concerns
"This is a wonderful book. Straight from Merton himself, it brings us a thorough introduction to, and survey of, the range and depth of Christian mysticism."The Merton Journal
"This text is an excellent resource not only to academics but also for sincere aspirants seeking an accessible introduction to a spiritual life." Reading Religion
"A welcome contribution to the summaries of the history of Christian spirituality that exist. It is also a great testament to Merton's erudition and to all that he brought to the novices and juniors of his own community."The Downside Review
"Called to the mystical life?" Merton suggest that we all are. Not sure where to start? This Course in Christian Mysticism will set you on a solid foundation as you learn from one of the great teachers of the last century."Tjurunga

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