Fall Noncredit Course | Modern Mystics Oct. 4 - Nov. 15

Nov 15, 2022
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
Back to Events

Bernard McGinnUniversity of Chicago

Ann AstellUniversity of Notre Dame

Raul ZegarraUniversity of Chicago

Peter Bernardi, SJLumen Christi Institute

Maurice CharlesUniversity of Chicago

Tuesdays, Oct. 4 - Nov. 15
6:00pm: Dinner
6:30pm: Presentation


Intended for university students and recent graduates. Others interested in attending please contact

Registrants are free to attend as many sessions as they choose. Sessions do not presuppose previous attendance or prior knowledge of the subject.


“The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ – one who has ‘experienced’ something  – or he will cease to be anything at all” 

                    – Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations VII

Who is the modern mystic? The study of the history of mysticism, pioneered by scholars like Bernard McGinn, has helped uncover the theological genius of writers and thinkers within the tradition of Christianity who fall outside of the neat parameters of systematic theology. Is the mystic in the modern world different from mystics of previous generations? In this no-prep required non-credit course, professors like Bernard McGinn, Anne Astell, and others will introduce participants to modern mystics from both within and beyond the Catholic tradition, addressing Therese of Lisieux, Thomas Merton, Simone Weil, Gustavo Gutierrez, Edith Stein, and Howard Thurman.



6:00 PM Dinner | 6:30 PM Lecture

October 4 | Modern Mystics, Intro (Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago)

October 11 | Therese of Lisieux (Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago)

October 18 | Simone Weil (Ann Astell, Notre Dame)

October 25 | Gustavo Gutierrez (Raul Zegarra, University of Chicago)

Novermber 1 | Edith Stein (Peter Bernardi, Lumen Christi Institute)

November 8 | Thomas Merton (Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago)

November 15 | Howard Thurman (Maurice Charles, University of Chicago)

Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the Committees on Medieval Studies and on General Studies at the University of Chicago. He has written extensively about the history of apocalyptic thought, spirituality, and mysticism. McGinn's many books include Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with EvilThe Presence of Goda multivolume history of Western Christian mysticism, and most recently Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae: A Biography.

Ann W. Astell is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of six books, most recently Eating Beauty: The Eucharist and the Spiritual Arts of the Middle Ages (2006), and is now completing a monograph on hagiography and the Bible. She has been the recipient of an N.E.H. fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. She has edited eight collections of essays, most recently Saving Fear in Christian Spirituality (2020). Past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and also of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, she has published recently in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Spiritus, Theological Studies, Marian Studies, and Religion and Literature. 

Raúl E. Zegarra-Medina is a Divinity School Teaching Fellow in the University of Chicago's Divinity School and College. He works on the intersections between philosophy, theology, and ethics, with special emphasis on questions of social justice and religious identity. His research focuses on the contributions of liberation theology, addressing how individuals and communities involved with this theological project articulate their values and identities, especially when tensions between political and religious commitments emerge.

Raúl is currently working on a book manuscript provisionally entitled The Revolution of Tradition: A Reinterpretation of Liberation Theology. Based on his doctoral dissertation—which recently received the University of Heidelberg’s 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise—this manuscript advances an interdisciplinary interpretation of liberation theology that underscores its revolutionary approach to the question of social justice. In doing so, the book makes a key intervention in the classical debate about whether secular-liberal or religiously-informed conceptions of justice should have priority in the political arena. Through a careful philosophical, historical, and theological examination, this work rejects this classical dichotomy. Instead, this work defends a more complex account, where the moral imagination of communities and individuals finds balance between these competing claims.

Raúl’s teaching includes courses on Latinx religion in the US, religious progressive politics, political philosophy and secularization theory, and American pragmatism.

Fr. Peter Bernardi, SJ is scholar-in-residence at the Lumen Christi Institute and Associate Professor Emeritus of Theology at Loyola University of Chicago, where he taught from 2010 to 2020. Before coming to Chicago he taught at Loyola University New Orleans from 1996 to 2010. Fr. Bernardi holds an Honors B.A. in Classical Languages from Xavier University (Cincinnati), an MA in Philosophy from the University of Detroit, a Master of Divinity from Regis College of the Toronto School of Theology, an STL from the Weston School of Theology with a thesis concerning soteriology, and a PhD in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America. His areas of interest include modern Christian thought; John Henry Newman, Maurice Blondel, and the Renewal of Catholic Theology; Theology of Vatican II; Christology & Soteriology. He is the author of Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism and Action Française: The Clash over the Church’s Role in Society During the Modernist Era (CUA Press, 2009).  His most recent scholarly publications are "Blondel, Maurice (1861–1949)" in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers (2020), "Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J. (1846–1931): Thomist, Anti-Modernist, Integralist" in the Journal of Jesuit Studies 8 (2021): 585-616, and "Maurice Blondel's diagnosis of extrinsicist 'Monophorism': An enduring critique of Christian Integralism," in Pesando-Revista de Filosofia. Vol 13, No 30 (2022) Dossie Maurice Blondel, 100-113.

The Rev. Dr. Maurice Charles has served as Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, since 2019. Charles earned his MDiv and a PhD in Christian History from the Divinity School. Prior to serving as Dean, he was the dean for spiritual engagement and chaplain at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, having previously served as associate dean for religious life at Stanford University.