Reason for the course

The Christian mystics have a unique contribution to make to the Church’s understanding of, engagement with, and proclamation of Christ.


The course aims to do three things: to examine texts from Saints Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Thérèse of Lisieux which express their understanding of Christ; to relate their Christology to that of the wider Christian tradition; and to consider how their mystical writings as a whole might speak to questions of Christology.


The planned content (subject to change as the course unfolds) is as follows:

  1. Teresa: prayer as relationship Teresa’s witness to the risenness of Christ
  2. Teresa: a Christology worth fighting for
  3. John of the Cross: spousal language
  4. John’s Christological foundation: los Romances
  5. John of the Cross and the real ‘Christ of faith’
  6. Jesus and the dark night
  7. Thérèse: the great Christ’s way of littleness
  8. Thérèse: facing into the wind
  9. Christology and mission
  10. Mystical Christology: conclusions and prospects


A series of lessons, with interactive sharing and home reflection.

Evaluation criteria

The participant will be evaluated according to their attendance at the lessons, and with a final oral exam on the basis of their reading of a chosen mystical text and of the lessons.

Distribution of work time

Participation in the lessons, reading of mystical texts at home, attention to questions sent out by email.


  • San Juan de la Cruz Obras Completas EDE, Madrid, 2009.
  • English tr. The Collected Works of St John of the Cross, tr. Kieran Kavanagh and Otilio Rodríguez, revised edition, Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites ICS, Washington 1991. 
  • Marjorie Flower, Centred on love: the poems of Saint John of the Cross,  Sydney 1983.
  • St Teresa of Avila, The Collected works 3 volumes, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, Otilio Rodríguez ICS Publications, Washington.
  • St Teresa of Avila, The Collected Letters, 2 volumes translated by Kieran Kavanaugh 2001, 2007, ICS Publications, Washington;
  • St Therese of Lisieux, Story of a soul ICS Publications, Washington 1996.
  • St Therese of Lisieux, Her Last Conversations, translated by John Clarke, ICS publications, Washington 1977; See further works:
  • Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, in “The Classics of Western Spirituality” series, Paulist Press 1987.
  • Tomás Álvarez, Prayer: Journeying to God with St Teresa, tr. Anne Harriss, Teresian Press, Oxford 2019.
  • Secundino Castro Cristo, Vida del hombre, EDE Madrid 1991.
  • Ross Collings, John of the Cross, MG, Collegeville, 1990.
  • Norbert Cummins, Freedom to Rejoice, London 1991.
  • Mark McIntosh, Mystical Theology, Blackwell 1998.
  • Mary McCormack OCD Upon this mountain: prayer in the Carmelite Tradition, Teresian Press 2009.
  • Francis Kelly Nemeck & Marie Theresa Coombs, O Blessed Night: recovering from addiction, codependency and attachment Alba House 1991.
  • Iain Matthew,
  • Peter Tyler, St John of the Cross, Continuum 2010.
  • Peter Tyler, The Return to the Mystical: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Teresa of Avila, and the Christian mystical tradition Continuum 2011.
  • Emmanuel Renault, The Apostolate of Contemplatives according to St Teresa of Avila Darlington 1981.
  • Joseph Ratzinger “Taking bearings in Christology”, Behold the Pierced One – an approach to a spiritual Christlology Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1986, pp.13-46.
  • Rowan Williams, “The deflections of desire” in Silence and the Word – Negative Theology and the Incarnation ed. O. Davies & D. Turner, CUP 2002, pp. 115-135.