Online Course in Spiritual Theology

OCST16 Exploring Spiritual Theology through Carmelite Eyes



Spiritual theology approaches Christian doctrines as lived realities. Therefore, in order truly to do spiritual theology, we need to discern the faith embodied in the lives of men and women. This is precisely what this course will do. The Carmelite spiritual tradition offers a rich repository of holy people living out the mysteries of faith. This course will demonstrate spiritual theology in action by “reading” the Christian doctrines “written” in the lives of key figures from the Carmelite tradition.


  • To grow in our understanding of the nature of spiritual theology and the importance of Carmelite spirituality to this branch of theology.
  • To deepen our appreciation of the lives and writings of holy Carmelite men and women as sources for understanding the mysteries of the Christian faith.
  • To develop a sensitivity to the ways in which the mysteries of faith are embodied in our own lives.


  • An exploration of the nature of spiritual theology and its place within the wider discipline of theology.
  • A study of key figures from the Carmelite spiritual tradition as embodiments of the Christian mysteries. Figures studied will include Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, Jessica Powers, and Ruth Burrows. Particular attention will be paid to the declaration of Saints Teresa, John, and Therese as Doctors of the Church and what this reveals about lived Christian experience as a theological source.
  • Reflection upon the significance of being bearers of the Gospel through our own lives of faith.

Essential bibliography

  • The following titles are in addition to the writings of the holy men and women from the Carmelite tradition who we will be studying.
  • Dreyer, E.A. Accidental Theologians: Four Women Who Shaped Christianity. Cincinnati, Ohio 2014.
  • Dreyer, E.A. and M.S. Burrows, eds., Minding the Spirit: The Study of Christian Spirituality, Baltimore, Maryland 2005.
  • Frohlich, M., ed., Carmelite Wisdom and Prophetic Hope: Treasures Both New and Old, Carmelite Studies 11, Washington, DC 2018.
  • Hunt, A., The Trinity: Insights from the Mystics, Collegeville, MN 2010.
  • McIntosh, M.A., Mystical Theology: The Integrity of Spirituality and Theology, Malden, MA 1998.
  • Payne, S., Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Doctor of the Universal Church, Staten Island, New York 2002.
  • Prevot, A., Thinking Prayer: Theology and Spirituality Amid the Crises of Modernity, Notre Dame, IN 2015.
  • –––––, “No Mere Spirituality: Recovering a Tradition of Women Theologians”, Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion 33 (1/2017) 107-117.