Rev. Dr. Jim Waters, PhD Chancellor   [email protected]

                Links for Seminarians and Clergy

Christian Classics Ethereal Library:
Extremely helpful source of primary texts in church history, Christian spirituality, Christian music, and more

Monastic Spirituality, the Benedictine Order:
Starting point for any study of Benedictine spirituality, with links and resources from a wide variety of monastic traditions.

Lectio Divina: Christian Spiritual Authors:
Index page of sources for spiritual reading; many good primary texts in early Christian theology and spirituality.

Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism  (
Fr. Alexander Golitzin's site.

The Ecole Initiative
“A Hypertext Encyclopedia of Early Church History” (and primary texts)

New Advent
Patristic Texts, The 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia, Hagiography

The Gregory of Nyssa Homepage:
translations and articles by Richard McCambly, a Cistercian monk of Spencer, Massachusetts.

The Holy See
Official Website of the Holy See: papal and curial documents in different languages.

Christus Rex
Christian Art, The Holy Land, Papal Documents

Late Medieval Hagiography
The Golden Legend, published 1483

Internet Resources on Christian Asceticism:

                    The Early Church Fathers


(1) CLASSICAL FOUNDATIONS: Visions of Heaven and the Ascent to God. Plato, “The Parable of the Caves” and “The Myth of Er” (Republic).

(2) JEWISH FOUNDATIONS: The Scriptures and Salvation. Philo of Alexandria on the Therapeutae and the Essenes. The Book of Enoch.

(3) JEWISH CHRISTIANITY: The Early Christian Church. Clement of Rome and The Letter of Barnabas.

(4) THE MISSIONARY CHURCH: Christian and Roman Visions of Truth.
Cicero, “The Dream of Scipio” (Republic); Justin Martyr

(5) THE PERSECUTED CHURCH: The Christian Witness to the Roman World.
Ignatius of Antioch; Pliny and Trajan on the Punishment of Christians; Polycarp of Smyrna; Abericius; The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicity; Cyprian of Carthage.

(6) THE CHURCH as a DEVELOPING INSTITUTION: Intellectual Challenges and Emerging Orthodoxy. The Didache; Hippolytus; Tertullian; Apostolic Constitutions

(7) THE BEGINNINGS of MYSTICAL THEOLOGY: Christian Neo-Platonism: Irenaeus, Plotinus; Clement of Alexandria; Origen.

(8) THE VICTORY of CONSTANTINE: The Council of Nicea and The Arian Christian Empire. Athanasius.

(9) THE TRIUMPH of NICENE ORTHODOXY: The Union of Dogmatic and Mystical Theology. Basil; Gregory Nazianzen; Gregory of Nyssa.

(10) SYRIAN CHRISTIANITY: The Harp of the Spirit. Aphraates of Persia; Ephrem the deacon; Isaac of Ninevah.

(11) CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM : The Desert and the City. Antony, Pachomius, Evagrius; The Sayings (Apophthegmata) and Lives of the Desert Fathers; John Cassian.

(12) CHRISTOLOGICAL CONTROVERSIES: The Origenist Crises. The Councils of Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.  Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great.

(13) THE DEVELOPMENT of LATIN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT: Christians - Barbarian and Roman. Ambrose, Augustine, Benedict, Cassiodorus, Caesarius of Arles.

(14) THE ISOLATION of the WEST: the Papacy, and the Rise of Byzantium. Columban, Gregory the Great, Justinian.

(15) CHRISTIAN ART and LITURGY: the Further Development of Mystical Theology. The mosaics of Ravenna and St. Katherine's Monastery, Sinai. Diadochus of Photike; John Climacus; Dionysius the Areopagite; Maximus Confessor.

          Models of Spiritual Direction for Study

INTRODUCTION: Models of Spiritual Direction, Ancient and Modern.

Bishop Kallistos Ware, “Spiritual Direction in the Christian East.” Thomas (Fr. Louis) Merton, O.C.S.O.; “Spiritual Direction” [in the West]. Abbot Francis Benedict, O.S.B., “Implications of Spiritual Direction.” Demacopolous: “Five Models of Spiritual Direction in the Early Church”.


Ilsetraut Hadot, “The Spiritual Guide”. Three pre-Christian models of the “Soul-Guide” or psychopomp: (1) Philosopher;  (2) Angel;  (3) Ancestor. Galen, On the Traditions of Plato and Hippocrates and On the Passions and Errors of the Soul. Porphyry, The Life of Plotinus. Plotinus, Enneads;


The biblical significance of the terms: (1) TEACHER / διδάσκαλος; DISCIPLE / μαθητής ; INSTRUCTOR / παιδευτή ; (2) CONSOLER / παράκλητος; ADVISOR / σύμβουλος ; HELPER / βοηθός ; (3) SHEPHERD / ποιμήν ; GUIDE / ὁδηγός ; ANGEL / ἄγγελος ; (4) HEALER / ἰατρός; TRANSFORM. / μεταμορφωσις; RENEWAL / ἀνακαίνωαις; RESTORATION / ἀποκατάστασις.

(4) MARTYRS and VISIONARIES as SPIRITUAL GUIDES: Intercessors and Ministers of Reconciliation

Christ’s Descent into Hell and the Apokatastasis; Polycarp of Smyrna; The Shepherd of Hermas; The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity; Cyprian of Carthage.


The Apostle Peter as model; Clement of Rome; Ignatius of Antioch; Irenaeus of Lyons; Athanasius. [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 21-50 (“Athanasius of Alexandria and Ambivalence Regarding Spiritual Direction”)]


Philo of Alexandria; Cyprian; Clement of Alexandria; Origen/Gregory Thaumaturgus; Guigo II (the Carthusian), Lectio Divina as a window into the soul.

(7a) CHRISTIAN ASCETICS as SPIRITUAL GUIDES, (Part 1): Early Abbas and Ammas

Athanasius, The Life of Antony; the Apophthegmata (Sayings) of the Desert Fathers; St. Syncletica; St. Macrina. [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 51-82 (“Gregory Nazianzen’s Sturggle for Synthesis” )].

(7b) CHRISTIAN ASCETICS as SPIRITUAL GUIDES, (Part 2): Evagrius Ponticus

“Introduction to the Life and Thought of Evagrius Ponticus”; Praktikos and the spiritual journey; Gnostikos and spiritual guidance. [Textbook: Byrne, pp. 3-15, (Benedicta Ward, S.L.G., “Spiritual Direction in the Desert Fathers”)].

(7c) CHRISTIAN ASCETICS as SPIRITUAL GUIDES, (Part 3): Evagrius Ponticus and John Cassian

Evagrian spiritual direction; Antirrhesis; Exegesis; John Cassian on discernment; John Cassian on friendship and anger. [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 107-126, (“John Cassian and The Spiritual Direction of the Ascetic Community” )]

(8) SPIRITUAL DIRECTION as MUTUAL SERVICE: Models of Spiritual Guidance in Ascetical Communities

John Chryssavgis “From Egypt to Palestine: Discerning a Thread of Spiritual Direction”; Basil the Great on lay ascetical communities; Augustine of Hippo; Barsanuphius and John.  [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 83-106, (“Augustine of Hippo and Resistance to the Ascetic Model of Spiritual Direction”)]


Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Benedict (RB-80, Appendix 2 “The Abbot”). Irenee Hausherr, S.J., “The Monastic Theology of St. John Climacus”; John Climacus, The Ladder; The Syriac Liber Graduum (Book of Steps); Dhuoda, Manual for William. [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 51-82. (“Gregory Nazianzen’s Sturggle for Synthesis”)]


Basil of Caesarea on Canonical Penances; Ambrose of Milan (On the Sacraments); Augustine of Hippo; Gregory the Great, Dialogues, Regula Pastoralis. [Textbook: Demacopoulos, 127-164 (“Pope Gregory and the Asceticizing of Spiritual Direction”)]

(11) FROM SECRET-KEEPER TO SOUL-FRIEND: Classical, Celtic, and Medieval Models of Friendship and Spiritual Guidance

The biblical significance of the terms: FRIEND / φίλος; FRIENDSHIP / φιλία. Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great on friendship;  Aelred of Rievaulx, The Mirror of Charity and On Spiritual Friendship. [Textbook: Byrne, pp. 30-42, (Diarmuid O’Laoghaire, S.J., “Soul-Friendship”)]

(12) CHARISMATIC GUIDES and UNCREATED LIGHT, Prayer and Liturgy as Bases of Spiritual Direction

Cyril of Jerusalem; Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite; Symeon the New Theologian; Gregory Pallamas and hesychasm.