Online Course in Spiritual Theology

OCST08 Mystical Theology and the Gospel of Life




The course explores the question How can the mystics deepen, safeguard and empower the Church’s vision of the dignity of humanity and the goodness of human life? The course thus aims to make both a pastoral and theological contribution.


The aim is to bring the Christian mystical tradition, with special emphasis on the theology of deification, into dialogue with the Gospel summons to protect and promote life. This dialogue, between mystical theology and the Gospel of life, intends to deepen and widen the discourse about the implications of human dignity in today’s world.


1) Foundations

  • The meaning of ‘mystical theology’.
  • The meaning of ‘the Gospel of life’.
  • New Testament light upon the relationship between spirituality and service.
  • The theology of deification as criterion for what God wants and what humanity needs.

2) Applications

Dialogue between the mystics, especially St Teresa and St John of the Cross, and

  • the dignity of the human,
  • human suffering,
  • care for the earth,
  • purification of motivation,
  • ecclesial communion and mission,
  • Christian hope.


The core language of the course will be ENGLISH, comprising lectures and interaction.

Evaluation criteria

Participation in the lessons; a piece of written work or a final oral examination.

Work allocation

The 12 lessons will consist in 6 double-lessons.


  • Pope John Paul II Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae 1995;
  • Pope Benedict XVI Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est 2005;
  • Pope Francis Encyclical Letter Laudato Si2015;
  • Works of St John of the Cross and of St Teresa, published by Institute of Carmelite Studies Washington;
  • Pseudo-Dionysius The Complete Works Paulist Press 1987;
  • Josef Ratzinger The God of Jesus Christ Ignatius 2008;
  • Mark McIntosh Mystical Theology Blackwell 1998;
  • Mary McCormack OCD Upon this mountain prayer in the Carmelite Tradition Teresian Press 2009;
  • Iain Matthew John of the Cross seasons of prayer Teresian Press 2014;
  • Catherine Meade Catherine of Siena to purify God’s Church St Paul’s 2006;
  • Robert Spaemann Persons Oxford 2017;
  • Stacy Trasancos Particles of Faith Notre Dame Indiana 2016;
  • Peter Tyler St John of the Cross Continuum 2010.