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An Introductory Course in Christian Spirituality

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What is spirituality?
Christian Spirituality...
Communion
Kenosis/self-emptying
Diakonia/service
Transformation
What are spiritual disciplines?
Contexts
Contemplative disciplines
Reflection and Discernment
Prayer and Worship
Moral Action
Course Instructor

Spirituality is a high priority among many Christians. They are living a personal, intentional faith life and want to develop it. Resources in support of this priority, particularly from a lay perspective, seem to be in short supply. An Introductory Course in Christian Spirituality is one resource to help remedy this lack. It is offered over the internet and is available to anyone who wishes to make use of it.

This course is meant as a resource for persons who seek to deepen their relationship with God, develop their prayer life and enrich the practice of their faith; as well as improve their understanding of Christian spirituality. It assumes a pre-existing Christian faith and prayer life. The course is a resource to help the student re-member. That is, bring together and integrate their individual experience with the experience of the Christian community throughout the centuries. It also provides a setting in which spiritual disciplines unfamiliar to some students can be experienced. This approach to spiritual formation views the formation process not as planting a seed but rather as shaping and cultivating a tree that is already well developed in many ways.

The course is set up in two sections. The first section focuses on developing a general understanding of the character of Christian spirituality. This section tends to be more conceptual. Links to units in this section are found in the navigation bar on the left. The other section focuses on an introduction to some of the more basic and useful practices common to Christian spirituality. Links to these pages are found in the column to the right.

While I write as a Catholic, much of what I discuss in terms of practice is common to other Christian, and many non-Christian traditions as well.  Each unit includes readings and resource books to check out for a deeper appreciation of the topic. Some pages have exercises to be done and questions for discussion or individual reflection. Most units also provide links to books relevant to the topic. If you are interested in obtaining one of the books, simply click on the link and it will take you to Amazon.com where the book can be purchased. 

The material presented on these pages is brief, as is the nature of the medium. A much deeper understanding of the topics presented is obtained by reading some of the books suggested. In addition, the author/instructor is available to respond to questions.

As noted above, the course is broken down into topic units presented in the navigation bar to the left. Please work your way through the units in order, as the readings, exercises and reflections often build upon material presented in earlier units.

The author of the course and its instructor writes from the Catholic perspective, so certain assumptions common to that tradition are made. However, the course should be of assistance to almost anyone in the Christian tradition. More information on the instructor/author is available via the instructor button on the navigation bar.

Finally, this is a work in progress. Most of the pages and content is in place, however there is still a bit of material to be added and some proofing to be done. Your patience is appreciated.

--Deacon Richard D Shewman, D.Min., J.C.L. (August 2005)

Use the following links to view the pages dealing with spiritual practice/disciplines.
 
 
 
 
 
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Along the Way is a story of the spiritual journeys of Theo Douglas under the guidance of his two mentors; one is a former Trappist brother and the other is a woman in her eighties who is a theologian. This tale presents much of the information provided in this on line course in story form. While a work of fiction is is fiction with a purpose; to help the reader deepen his or her understanding of Christian spirituality and apply it in their life.
 
This story was originally presented in the North Star (weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa) as three separate stories broken down into weekly installments over a period of several years. That trilogy has been combined into an ebook, with appropriate editing, and is now available for purchase at Barnes and Nobles.com.

Click here to visit Along the Way, a site of reflections, homilies and stories by the author of this website.

(c)2005. Richard Shewman. All rights reserved. The contents of this website are the intellectual property of the author and may not be reproduced, aside from fair personal use for the purpose of individual study, without the written permission of the author.
 
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