Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality – V. Rev. Dr. Maximos Constas
This course is designed as a general introduction to the history, literature, and practice of Orthodox Spirituality. The course begins with (1) an introductory lecture exploring the meaning and place of spirituality in the Orthodox Church, and the challenges of following a spiritual path in the modern world. We will then survey (2) the major sources of Orthodox spirituality, from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers to the work of modern elders and spiritual teachers. Our third meeting will focus on (3) the various stages of the spiritual life, with emphasis on actual practices and ways of living. The final two meetings (4-5) consider the Philokalia and the Prayer of the Heart (the “Jesus Prayer”).
Reading Scripture through the Church Year – Dr. Bruce Beck
This course will explore the ways Scripture is read within the services and lectionary cycle of the Orthodox Church, in order to receive spiritual benefits from the practice of reading scripture as Orthodox Christians. The course will examine how the Scripture is used within a select number of the major liturgical feasts (e.g. Nativity, Epiphany, Exaltation of the Holy and Life Giving Cross, etc.), including their hymns, icons, and scriptural texts, in order to become better tuned to the Orthodox (Patristic) methods of biblical interpretation. Our goal throughout is to gain knowledge, resources, and practices that can aid in the spiritual journey of each participant. By reading together select hymns, scripture passages, and studying festal icons, we hope to imitate their lofty veneration of the Scriptures, and be mentored by their illumined ways of interpreting them within a liturgical context. In addition, participants will gain a greater appreciation for the continuity between the Old Testament and the life of the Church, especially as biblical characters are lifted up as models of faith, and as biblical events are lifted up as foreshadowing the events of salvation of the Christian faith. Primary sources will include the Festal Menaion, festal icons, the Triodion, Kontakia of St. Romanos the Melodist, hymns by St. John of Damascus and others, all of which demonstrate beautifully for us Orthodox ways of reading Scripture within the liturgical cycle of the Orthodox Church.