(1) VISIONS of HEAVEN and the ASCENT to GOD
Plato as mystical theologian; his Parable of the Cave and Myth of Er. Spiritual Ascent in the intertestamental period: The Book of Enoch. Cicero's retelling of Plato's Myth in the Dream of Scipio.
(2) BIBLICAL and EARLY CHRISTIAN MODELS of SPIRITUAL ASCENT:
Apophatic and Kataphatic Theology. Fundamental biblical texts in the early Christian contemplative tradition. Saint Perpetua the martyr as seer and intercessor. Three early examples of monastic visionaries (Antony, Evagrius, Benedict)
(3) SOLITUDE and COMMUNITY in EARLY CHRISTIANITY:
Origins of Christian monasticism. Hermitage and cenobium in northern Egypt (Nitria, Kellia, Scetis). Solitude and community in: Athanasius' Life of Antony; the Apophthegmata; The Ascetikon (Rule) of Basil the Great; the Rule of Benedict. Essays on the eremetical life in East and West.
(4) LECTIO DIVINA:
Introductory concepts (monologistic prayer, meditatio, parrhesia); Private and Group lectio divina; Dei Verbum (Vatican II); Philo of Alexandria; Cyprian of Carthage; Hugh of St. Victor; Guigo II.
(5) THE RHYTHM of PSALMODY and PRAYER:
Psalmody and hymnody in Judaism and early Christianity. Early monastic descriptions of psalmody and prayer: Athanasius; Antony; John Cassian; Evagrius Ponticus; and Basil. Gregory of Nyssa, On The Inscriptions of the Psalms. Benedict on psalmody and prayer. Gabriel Bunge, Geistgebet - Spiritual Prayer. Representative psalms with antiphons, ancient and modern. Pope John Paul II, On Psalm 117.
(6) LITURGICAL PRAYER
Cyril of Jerusalem and Ambrose of Milan on baptism, chrismation, and the Eucharist. Dionysius the Aereopagite on liturgy and mystical theology; Maximos Confessor on Dionysius and liturgy. Suger of St. Denis on the contemplation of beauty. Books of Hours; Gertude the Great on liturgical prayer; Hildegard of Bingen. Vatican II (Lumen Gentium) on the Royal Priesthood.
(7) CONTEMPLATIVE EXEGESIS
Biblical and early patristic recommendations of mystical (allegorical) exegesis. Clement of Alexandria and Origen on fourfold and threefold exegesis. Evagrius and Cassian (Conf. 14) on progressive levels of biblical interpretation. Eucherius of Lyons’ allegorical glossary.
(8) MONOLOGISTIC PRAYER
Biblical and early patristic sources (Cyprian, Tertullian, Clement of Alex.) on continuous prayer. Evagrius: sel, from on Prayer; Cassian, Conf. 9-10. Early Byzantine witnesses (Diadochus and Barsanuphius). The monks of Sinai: Climacus, Hesychius, Gregory of Sinai. The Jesus Prayer, Mount Athos, and Gregory Pallamas.
(9) MONASTIC REFORM and RENEWAL
Modern monastic reform and renewal: (1) missionary zeal and Boniface Wimmer, Gerard Van Caloen, and Andreas Amrhein; (2) Liturgy and Prosper Gueranger; (3) Primitive Observance and Pietro Casaretto. Essay: Are We Contemplatives, What is our Future?
(10) SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE
Early texts on spiritual guidance and leadership in the Christian community: Selections from the Rule of Benedict on the abbot and cellarer; selections from Pope St. Gregory the Great.
(11) EVAGRIUS PONTICUS
Introduction to writings. COMPLETE TEXTS. Praktikos, Gnostikos, Kephalaia Gnostica, On Prayer, Skemmata, Peri Logismon. SELECTIONS. Gnomic Sentences, Antirrhetikos, Scholia on Psalms, on Proverbs, on Ecclesiastes, Letters.