The course aims to help the students to combine theology and spirituality, Christian doctrine and practice, contemplation and action. In this framework the course offers the doctrinal foundations and the progressive stages of growing in Christian life towards perfection. Given that Christian life consists essentially in loving God, ourselves and the neighbour, the present course plans to help to analyse the tenets of this goal and to strive for it. The real purpose of the study of the spiritual life is not to produce scholars but to form holy Christians. As the majority of the students are called to be Christian leaders, shepherds and spiritual guides, they must know the ways of God and the ways of men, to lead them to the stature of Christ.
Nature and Scope of Spiritual Theology: Terminology, Method, Sources, Types, Schools. Spirituality, Bible and Theology: biblical images and Christian spirituality - theological foundations of spirituality. The Goal of Our Striving: The Glory of God, Salvation, Sanctification. Our Life in the Trinity: the Father, Christ, the Spirit: The Father, goal of all the creatures – Christ the Way, the Truth, the Life – the Holy Spirit Sanctifier. The Supernatural Organism: Grace (Sanctifying, actual, effects), Indwelling of the Trinity, Infused Virtues, Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit, Beatitudes. Perfection of the Christian Life: The Nature of Christian Perfection, The Mystical State. Growth in holiness: Conversion from Sin, means of Spiritual Growth (The Sacraments, Meritorious Good Works, and Prayer of Petition). The Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity) and the Moral Virtues (Prudence, Counsel, Justice, Piety, Temperance, Fear, Fortitude). Vocal Prayer, Meditation, Lectio Divina, Affective Prayer, Prayer of Simplicity, Contemplative Prayer, Prayer of Quiet, Prayer of Union, Prayer of Conforming, Union Prayer, Transforming Union. Aids to Spiritual Growth (The Presence of God, Examination of Conscience, The Desire for Perfection, Conformity to God’s Will, Fidelity to Grace, Plan of Life, Spiritual Reading, Holy Friendships, Spiritual Direction. Discernment of Spirits (Types of Spirits, Psychosomatic Phenomena, Extraordinary Mystical Phenomena). Learning Outcomes: • Students will be able to identify the differences between Christian doctrine and practice; contemplation and action in the progressive stages of growing in Christian life towards perfection. • Students will explain in discussion the tenets of the goal of Christian life which consists essentially in loving God, ourselves and neighbour, expounding on how to analyse and to strive for it in forming holy Christians.
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