Christian Mysticism and the Secret of Knowing God

5 Wednesdays
6:00 – 7:30 pm, Eastern Time, USA
Beginning November 10, 2021 (excluding November 24)

Instructor: Brother Damien Joseph, SSF

There are no CE’s offered for this course

Recent years have seen a renewal of interest in mysticism of various kinds, including the mystical tradition within Christianity.

It’s easy to think of Christianity as a set of doctrines and beliefs, as a systematic theology of right and wrong ideas, and as a way of knowing about God. But throughout the church’s history, another way has always persisted —sometimes dominant, sometimes neglected or mistrusted, or even actively suppressed. This is the tradition of the mystics, whose pursuit is not solely or primarily to know about God, but rather to know God, in a personal and experiential way. 

Our goal will be to become familiar with some of the basic concepts and imagery of mysticism, and to encounter a few examples of mystical writing in hopes of enriching our own spiritual lives and practice, and as a challenge to approach God not merely through knowledge but also through experience. While the course content focuses on mystical theology itself, opportunity will be provided to discuss intersections and applications to Jungian thought. 

We will approach this goal with a broad introductory session followed by four sessions looking at examples from individual mystical writers, in this case, all from the Franciscan tradition: Clare of Assisi, Ramon Llull, Bonaventure, and Angela of Foligno.

Session 1: Ascensio - the soul’s ascent into God
What is mysticism?  In this introduction to mystical thought, we’ll take a brief look at the definitions, history, and major themes of mysticism as a movement in Western Christianity. We’ll also identify examples of major mystical thinkers for further reading and study.

Session 2: Contemplatio - fixing the mind on God
We will consider a mystical approach to contemplation using brief selections from letters of Clare of Assisi, her imagery of “the Mirror of Eternity,” and her instructions to a Sister on her method of contemplative prayer.

Session 3: Dilectio - the delights of God’s love
We will sample the rich (and historically often controversial) theme of romantic and even erotic love as an image for knowing God, specifically through selections from Ramon Llull’s Book of the Lover and the Beloved. We’ll also briefly touch on this theme’s roots in the Biblical Song of Songs.

Session 4: Passio - knowing God in suffering
The cross, suffering, and death of Christ may seem an unlikely ground for a way of contemplation often associated with “raptures” and “ecstasy,” but it is in fact central to the mystical vision. We’ll look at excerpts of Bonaventure’s reflections on the Cross and Passion of Christ, and on Francis of Assisi as an example of mystical union with Christ.

Session 5: Ablatio - the way of negation and unknowing
The pinnacle of experiencing God, according to virtually all of the great mystics, is the entry into a state of unknowing, beyond conceiving or describing. In this session, we’ll use selections from Angela of Foligno’s Memorial to approach the mystical via negativa (“way of negation”) and the compelling, if counter-intuitive idea of the “darkness of God.”



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All 5-week courses are $175 for the general public and $150 for members.

Christian Mysticism and the Secret of Knowing God

General Public



These are all online courses, given through the program Zoom.
Please download the Zoom program in advance of the first class session at


The full fee must be paid at the time of registration. Please register through the payment buttons on this website. Mail in registration and telephone registration are not available at this time.


When you pay you must also email your current email address and telephone number to the Foundation at cgjungny@aol.comThe Foundation will send you an email message and you must reply to confirm receipt. If you are taking this course for 7.5 CE contact hours for licensed NYS Social Workers, Psychoanalysts and Creative Arts Therapists, please specify which license you hold and give your NYS license number.

Class size is limited. Early registration is strongly recommended. Refunds for continuing education courses, less $15 for administrative services, will be made up to seven days before the first session. There will be no refunds issued after classes have begun. No exceptions will be made. Programs are subject to change without notice.

For more information, call or write:

Office of the Executive Director
The C.G. Jung Foundation of New York
28 East 39th Street
New York, New York 10016
Telephone: (212) 697-6430, Fax: (212) 953-3989
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2021 Fall Continuing Education