Online Course in Spiritual Theology

OCST07 Carmelite Prayer: Person and Community

Professor: Jo Robson  

Prayer in the Carmelite tradition offers a distinctive contribution to the field of Christian spiritual praxis. Rooted in the desert tradition and shaped by the teaching of St Teresa of Avila, Carmelite prayer employs a particular interplay between the solitary individual and the needs and concerns of the wider community; a tension which both fuels its dynamism and defines its essential character.

The course will approach Carmelite prayer through the twin perspectives of person and community, focusing especially on these elements in the teaching of St Teresa of Avila, but also examining their origins in the Carmelite Fathers and how they were further developed by St Edith Stein.

An initial session will explore the foundations of Carmelite prayer formulated by the primitive community on Mount Carmel. Four further sessions will examine Teresa of Avila’s teaching on prayer which both takes up this ideal and re-articulates it with fresh relevance and new urgency. A final session will examine how the twin poles of person and community are given a twentieth-century perspective in the spiritual writings of Edith Stein.

The course (12 lessons in 6 sessions) is offered via live Zoom sessions with the possibility of interaction in the form of both group discussion and questions and answers.

Criteria for evaluation
The final assessment consists in written paper (4 – 6 pages) or an oral exam (10 – 15 minutes) on Zoom. Further details will be communicated on the Moodle platform.

Time distribution
The twelve lessons are accompanied by personal reading and the preparation of the written paper or oral examination.

Essential bibliography

  • CHITTY, Derwas J., The Desert a City, An introduction to the study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire, Crestwood, NY, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995.
  • CICCONETTI, Carlo, The Rule of Carmel: An Abridgement, edited by P. Hoban (ed.), Darien, IL, Carmelite Spirituality Center, 1984.

  • DREUILLE, Mayeul de, Seeking the Absolute Love: The Founders of Christian Monasticism, Leominster, Gracewing & New York, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999.

  • GRIFFIN, Eltin, (ed.), Ascending the Mountain: The Carmelite Rule Today, Blackrock, The Columba Press, 2004.

  • KAVANAUGH, Kieran and RODRIGUEZ Otilio, The Collected Works of St Teresa of Avila, Volumes I-III, ICS Publications, Washington D.C., 1980-1987.

  • McCORMACK, Mary, Upon This Mountain: Prayer in the Carmelite Tradition, Oxford, Teresian Press, 2009.

  • SMET, Joachim, The Carmelites: A History of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Volume I, revised edition, Darien, IL, Carmelite Spirituality Center, 1988.

  • WARD, Benedicta (trans.), The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, London, Penguin Books, 2003.

  • STEIN, Edith, The Hidden Life: Hagiographic Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts, Collected Works of Edith Stein (CWES) 4, ICS Publications, Washington D.C., 1992.

Further specific bibliographies will be provided for each session.