Thomas Merton's lectures to the young monastics at the Abbey of Gethsemani provide a good look at Merton the scholar. A Course in Christian Mysticism gathers together, for the first time, the best of these talks into a spiritual, historical, and theological survey of Christian mysticism—from St. John's gospel to St. John of the Cross. Sixteen centuries are covered over thirteen lectures. A general introduction sets the scene for when and how the talks were prepared and for the perennial themes one finds in them, making them relevant for spiritual seekers today. This compact volume allows anyone to learn from one of the twentieth century's greatest Catholic spiritual teachers. The study materials at the back of the book, including additional primary source readings and thoughtful questions for reflection and discussion, make this an essential text for any student of Christian mysticism.
Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar, author, critic, and publisher. His books include The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation, Inventing Hell, and several books on Saint Francis. He is a regular contributor to America and The Tablet. Jon is the publisher and editor-in-chief at Paraclete Press. He is married and the father of three, and lives 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
"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 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
"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