Course Number: CHH 631
Course Title: Mystical Theology and the Church Fathers
Term:
Fall 2017

Instructor: Alphonso L. Pinto, STD

Email: apinto@holyapostles.edu

Phone: (303) 282-3110

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course surveys the development of mystical theology amongst the Church Fathers.  A selected collection of texts, from Fathers of East and West; alongside a systematic development.  Various terms and concepts will be examined, such as theosis, apophatic and kataphatic theology, the importance of the Trinity to the soul of man, etc.

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

3. COURSE SCHEDULE

Week 1: Introduction

Lectures: Positive and Negative Theology in Dionysius the Areopagite.

Readings: Lossky, Mystical theology of the eastern church, pp. 1-44.

Assignments:  Discussion post: Write a short synopsis of positive and negative theology, about 500 words, and its possible application to the life of contemplation.

Week 2: The Trinity and Creation

Lectures:  The Trinity as Central Mystery for the Spiritual Life

Readings: Lossky, pp. 45-90.

Assignments: Discussion post: Can God be known by the human mind?  Do non-Christian religions have a mystical knowledge of God?

Week 3: The Trinity and Creation II

Lectures: A look at the gratuitous beauty of Creation and how it leads to God

Readings: Lossky, pp. 91-134; Augustine, Confessions, X.

Assignments: Discussion post: the relationship between Beauty and Mystical Theology in Augustine.

Week 4: The Oikonomia of Salvation

Lectures: The Mystical Life and the Hypostasis of Jesus the Christ.

Readings: Lossky, pp. 135-155.

Assignments:  Discussion post: How does Lossky’s approach stem from the theology of St. Athanasius of Alexandria, in his work entitled On the Incarnation? 

Week 5: Divinization: Holy Spirit

Lectures: The soul of the Church.

Readings: Lossky, 156-173.

Assignments: Discussion post: “Define the Holy Spirit as Soul of the Church”.

Week 6: Ecclesiological perspective:

Lectures: The Soul of the Church

Readings: Lossky, 174-195.

Week 7: Unitive Way according to the Church Fathers

Lectures: From Purgation to Union.

Readings: Lossky, 196-216.

Assignments: Discussion post: “How does the Church bring the soul from purgation to union?” Also, comment on one other post.

Week 8: The Goal of the Spiritual Life.

Lectures: The Goal.

Readings: Lossky, 238 ad finem.

Assignment: Discussion post: “Is Jesus Christ a personal Lord and Saviour in the goal of the spiritual life?”

Week 9: Martyrdom: Ignatius of Antioch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Lectures: The Mystical Theology of Martyrdom.

Readings: Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans.

Assignments:  Discussion post:  What is the relationship between martyrdom and the Eucharist in Ignatius of Antioch?  How can this be related to suffering. (700 words). Also, comment on one other post.

Week 10: Conversion: Augustine.

Lectures: Conversion as initiation of the Mystical Life.

Readings: Augustine, Confessions, VIII, IX.

Assignments: Read the chapter entitled, The conversion of St. Benedict, in, Jean Leclercq, The Love of learning and the desire for God, pp. 11-24.

Week 11: Conversion: Antony of Alexandria

Lectures: Mt Athos:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CxkSp_jmd4&list=PLOFZoffZBuUareYRUTYX_BJ25jJ4cR0nW

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcmWQe29zro

Readings: Athanasius, Life of Antony, 1-13 (pp, 30-41)

Assignments: Discussion Post: The relationship between conversion and its resultant monasticism.

Week 12: Gregory of Nyssa, and Union with God.

Lectures: The meaning of Epektasis.  

Readings: Stuart Burns, Divine Ecstasy in Gregory of Nyssa and Pseudo-Macarius: Flight and Intoxication. Greek Orthodox Theological Review. 1999, Vol. 44 Issue 1-4, p309ff.

Assignments: Discussion Post: Research the works of Benedict XVI and see how he uses the wisdom of Gregory of Nyssa to examine man’s relation to God in the Mystical Life.

Week 13: The Wisdom of the Desert

Lectures: Spiritual Combat in the Apophthegmata Patrum

Readings:    The Dynamics of Spiritual Guidance in the Apophthegmata Patrum

Assignments: Discussion Post: The relationship between Spiritual Guidance and Spiritual Combat in the Apophtegmata Patrum. Also comment on one other post.

Week 14: The Desire for Heaven

Lectures: Heaven and Literature

Readings: Jean Leclercq, 53-70.

Week 15: Theosis: Liturgy of the Roman Rite.

Lectures: the relationship between theosis and the Liturgy, of earth and heaven.

Readings: Jean Leclercq, 236-254.

Assignments: Submission of Term Paper.

4. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Nota Bene: Term Paper:  This paper should: a) trace the development of the spiritual life from conversion to Mystical Union with God in a Church Father of your choice, or a selection of writings from the Church Fathers such as the Apophthegmata Patrum (Sayings of the Desert Fathers) or the Philokalia; b) explain this development in light of the Liturgy. The paper should be 10 pages in length, (double spaced), with bibliography, proper footnotes, and according to the protocol of Holy Apostles. Make sure to use the resources at your disposal, such as Lossky, or Leclercq.

Citations in Discussion Posts

For the purposes of the Discussions in Populi, please do provide a full footnote for sources at the end of your post. You will have to type a special character (^) at the beginning and end of your numbers to make a superscript in Populi, e.g. ^1^, ^2^, etcetera. Use the special characters for superscript also in your footnote.

Example Footnote

^1^ Vincent Balaguer, Understanding the Gospels (New York, Scepter Publishers, Inc., 2005), 5, [Hereafter UG].

Also, to bold, italicize, or underline words in Populi, please refer to the “Formatting Guide” located below all discussion/comment fields in Populi.

5. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

6. SUGGESTED READINGS and RESOURCES:

7. EVALUATION

(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Blog Entries (BE) and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

1 (F)

2 (D)

3 (C)

4 (B)

5 (A)

CONTENT

Absence of Understanding

Posting shows no awareness of the concepts addressed in the topic by shifting off-topic

Misunderstanding

Posting demonstrates a misunderstanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic through an inability to re-explain them

Adequate Understanding

Posting demonstrates an adequate understanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic by a re-explanation of them

Solid understanding

Posting demonstrates an understanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic and uses that understanding effectively in the examples it provides

Insightful understanding

Posting demonstrates an understanding of the basic concepts of the topic through the use of examples and by making connections to other concepts

WRITING & EXPRESSION

Incomplete writing

Posting is only partially written or fails to address the topic

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Posting touches only on the surface of the topic and proceeds to talk about something else; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Posting is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment;  satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors

Solid writing with something interesting to say

Posting is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples;  level-appropriate syntax and diction;  mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error

command-level writing, making a clear impression

Posting is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development ; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage

RESEARCH

Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors.

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting or merely summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.

Graduate Rubric

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers

0 pts. – Paper
Posting;

3 pts. – Paper
Posting;

6 pts. – Paper
Posting;

9 pts. – Paper
Posting;

12 pts. – Paper
Posting;

15 pts. – Paper
Posting;

CONTENT

Absence of Understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic.

Lack of Understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.

RESEARCH

Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors.

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format.

WRITING & EXPRESSION

Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic.

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors.

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error.

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage.

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

Name and Title: Alphonso Lopez Pinto, S.T.D.

Alphonso Lopez Pinto received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in 2008, with a dissertation entitled, “The Theological Vision of Sacred Art in Gabriele Paleotti’s Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre et profane (1582): Guido Reni’s Trinitarian Depictions as seen in its Light.”  Currently an Associate Professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, his main field of research is the relationship between art and theology during the Controriforma in Rome and Bologna.  Upon moving to Colorado, he has begun researching the theological ethos of the Spanish Colonial “Santo.”