‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Course Description

The life of the Christian is essentially a life of walking in faith with Jesus Christ. The aim of this course is not so much to produce Christian scholars who know about holiness but to assist in helping Christians increase in holiness. As the age old axiom goes, “You cannot love what you do not know,” so it is vitally important for the Christian life to know how to live it. And this is what this course is all about!

Our course is designed to engage with four of the greatest spiritual masters of the Church: St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), St. John of the Cross (1542–1591), St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897). These great saints are all recognized as Doctors of the Church for the spiritual life.

With a special emphasis on the life of Christian prayer, the course will expose students to the various types of traditional prayer. We will look at the various stages of the prayer life, what has come to be known as ‘The Three Ages of the Interior Life.’ Here we will look at the ascetical and mystical life of the Christian as they progress on the path to holiness. We will see how these stages are characterised by the various types of prayer: vocal, meditative and contemplative. As the Church’s sacramental and liturgical life is an integral part of the Christian life we will explore its relation to one’s own prayer life.

Our course will also study the various Christian virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Christian prayer life, and conclude by looking at Mary as the model of Christian prayer.

We hope that you will be inspired and encouraged to enter more deeply into your relationship with God through this beautiful course on Christian Spirituality.

Course Objectives

  1. To come to know and love Jesus Christ more deeply and walk with him in faith.
  2. To be able to apply the principles of the Christian spiritual life more effectively to your own daily prayer life.
  3. To gain an understanding of the different types of traditional Christian prayer.
  4. To see the connection between the Church’s sacramental and liturgical life and one’s own daily prayer life.
  5. To practice the virtues more effectively in one’s own daily life so as to increase in holiness.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

DuBay, Thomas. Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel, on Prayer. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990.

Kreeft, Peter. Prayer: The Great Conversation. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991.

Popular Level Reading:

Aumann, Jordan. Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition. San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1985.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Interior Life. Rockford, IL: Tan Books, 2002.

John of the Cross. The Collected Works. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh et al. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1973.

Marín, Antonio Royo. The Great Unknown: The Holy Ghost and His Gifts. New York: Western Hemisphere Cultural Society, 1991.

Marmion, Abbot. Christ the Life of the Soul. London: Sands and Co., (unknown).

Martinez, Luis M. The Sanctifier. Boston: Pauls Books and Media, 1982.

Merton, Thomas. A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals. Edited by Jonathan Montaldo. New York: Harper Collins, 2004.

Pope Benedict XVI. The Yes of Jesus Christ. Translated by Robert Nowell. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2011.

Sales, Francis de. Introduction to the Devout Life. Translated by John K. Ryan. NY: Doubleday Image, 1989.

Speyer, Adrienne Von. The World of Prayer. Translated by Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985.

Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection. Translated by E.A. Peers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1964.

Thérèse of Lisieux. Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Translated by John Clarke, O.C.D. Washington D.C.: I C S Publications, 1996.

Wild, Robert. Enthusiasm in the Spirit. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1975.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

_________. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa theologiæ, vol. 1-5. Westminster, Maryland: Christian Classics, 1981.

Arintero, John. The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church. (2 vols.). Translated by Jordan Aumann. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978.

Aumann, Jordan. Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985.

_________. Spiritual Theology. Allen, TX: Christian Classics, 1980.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Christian Meditation. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989.

_________. Prayer. Translated by A. Littledale. NY: Paulist

[Deus], 1967.

_________. The Christian State of Life. Translated by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983.

Bouyer, Louis. Introduction to Spirituality. Translated by Mary Ryan. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1961.

_________. The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers. London: Burns and Oats, 1963.

Catherine of Siena. The Dialogue. Rockford, IL: Tan Books, 1974.

Chautard, Dom Jean-Baptiste, OCSO. The Soul of the Apostolate. Trappist, KY: Abbey of Gethsemani, 1946.

Cummings, Charles. Spirituality and the Desert Experience. Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, 1978.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Christian Perfection and Contemplation. M. Timothea Doyle. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1958.

_________. The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus. (2 vols.). Translated by Jeanne Marie. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1948.

_________. The Mother of the Saviour and Our Interior Life. Translated by Bernard J. Kelly. Dublin: Golden Eagle Books, 1949.

_________. The Priest in Union with Christ. Translated by G.W. Shelton. Westminster: The Newman Press, 1952.

_________. The Priesthood and Perfection. Translated by E. Hayden. Westminster: The Newman Press, 1955.

_________. The Three Ages of the Interior Life. (2 vols.). Translated by M. Timothea Doyle. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1989.

_________. The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life: A Brief Outline of the Main Principles of Ascetical and Mystical Theology. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1977.

Guardini, Romano. Learning the Virtues that Lead you to God. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1987.

_________. The Art of Praying. Manchester, NH: Sophia Press.

Ignatius of Loyola, St. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Translated by A. Mottola. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1964.

Leclercq, Jean, François Vandenbroucke and Louis Bouyer. The Spirituality of the Middle Ages: A History of Christian Spirituality. London: Burns and Oats, 1968.

Pieper, Josef. The Four Cardinal Virtues. Translated by Richard Winston. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.

Pope Benedict XVI. The Virtues. Edited by Jacquelyn Lindsey. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2010.

Ratzinger, Joseph. On Conscience. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007.

Saint-Jure, Fr. Jean Baptiste and Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, S.J. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. Rockford, IL: TAN, 1983.

Teresa of Avila. Interior Castle. Translated by E. Peers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.

_________. The Life of St. Teresa of Avila by Herself. London: Penguin, 1957.

Wojtyla, Karol. Faith According to Saint John of the Cross. Translated by Jordan Aumann. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981.

Woodbury, Austin. Sanctifying Grace. Sydney: Aquinas Academy, 1965.

_________. The Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Sydney: Aquinas Academy, 1965.

_________. The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1960.

_________. The Supernatural and Grace. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1965-66.