The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

MNST 555 Classics of Medieval Spirituality and Spirituality


Most classic texts of Christian spirituality are actually works of spiritual guidance. Rooted in a profound experience of God, they move from prayer to pastoral art, seeking to guide others in the ways of grace through the written word. Over the centuries, Christians in a variety of circumstances have continued to draw wisdom and insight from these spiritual mentors of the past. Through a close reading of primary texts by authors such as Benedict of Nursia, Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx, Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, and Julian of Norwich, we sample some of the diverse schools of Western Christian spirituality from the sixth through the fourteenth centuries. The course examines perennial tensions in spiritual theology such as the affirmative and negative ways, contemplation and service, liberty and discipline. While reading these authors critically and in their own historical context, we also explore how their teaching might inform our prayer, theological vision, pastoral oversight, and spiritual counsel.