Trinity College

Living in the Spirit: Orthodox Spirituality for Modern Times

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Fall 2021
Next Offered: 
Fall 2024

While maintaining a broad thematic continuity with Orthodox spirituality of the first millennium, the rich corpus of Orthodox spiritual writings since the fourteenth century reflects influences and problems typical of the wide range of historical and geopolitical circumstances of Orthodox Christians over the centuries, nurtured by the religious climates of Russia, Romania, Greece, Mount Athos, the Christian Middle East, and Western Europe and North America. Personalities and writings to be studied will be considered in both their historical and personal contexts and will be situated within broad themes characteristic of modern Orthodox spirituality, such as the “Philokalic” and hesychastic revival beginning in the late eighteenth century, the Jesus Prayer, spiritual guidance, monastic renewal, liturgical spirituality, spirituality in times of revolution, persecution and exile, and spirituality in a secular environment. With modern times there are strong external pressures from contemporary secular culture, from the Enlightenment to scientific positivism, militant and non-militant atheism, existentialism and modernism. Leading figures of the Church – clergy, monastics and lay people – respond to these challenges, witnessing to Christ in their lives and their writings, which have a powerful impact and colour modern Orthodox life.

Readings in a “course pack” of texts will include selections from major Orthodox pastoral and spiritual authors of Russia, Greece, Mount Athos, Romania, Serbia, the Christian Middle East and Western Europe and North America. Authors include St Nicholas Cabasilas, St Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, St Seraphim of Sarov, Fr Arseny of Russia, Alexander Men, Joseph the Hesychast, Mother Gavrilia, St Silouan the Athonite, Elder Cleopa, Dumitru Staniloae, Matta El-Meskeen, St Nicholas Velimirovitch, Alexander Eltchaninov, St Maria of Paris, Lev Gillet, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Paul Evdokimov, Anthony Bloom, Archimandrite Sophrony, Alexander Schmemann, and Kallistos Ware.