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School of Prayer
(September 2020 – May 2021)

About the course

The School of Prayer is intended for those who realise the importance of prayer in their lives and are seeking a deeper relationship with God and support and encouragement in their search. It is not intended as an academic programme; the course will be mainly experiential. Participants will be invited to take an active part in spiritual conversation, workshops and small group sharing. It will also include essential reading, intended as a framework and support for the ongoing process of prayer, reflection and growth. For participants, it will offer the opportunity to be nourished by the rich treasures of Christian prayer with particular reference to the Carmelite tradition – and at the same time to explore their own prayer journey and share this experience with others.

Vision

To form people of prayer within the Carmelite lived tradition. The course draws primarily from lived Carmelite spirituality and prepares course participants to be a guiding and prayerful presence in the world. The course may also enrich and deepen the prayer life of those who are more at home in other Christian or Catholic traditions of prayer or spiritual formation.

Aims of the Course

  • To form people of prayer in a nine-month course
  • To use diverse learning methods including distance learning and internet technology for the delivery of the course
  • To encourage an experience of living and praying in a Carmelite community
  • To encourage self-awareness and the flourishing of the spiritual life through deepening one’s intimacy with God
  • To broaden an understanding of the variety of approaches to prayer in the Carmelite as well as the wider Christian tradition
  • To encourage learning, exploring and practicing forms of prayer in the Christian tradition

Learning Outcomes

  • All graduates of the course will have a deep and comprehensive understanding of the experience of prayer in a way that is enriching and empowering
  • A deep understanding of the Call to Carmel as a call to a spiritual home and to a life dedicated to allowing God’s gift of prayer to enrich candidates, the wider Church and the world at large.
  • A deepening contemplative awareness – closing the gap between their intellectual understanding and their lived experience of – being, seeing, listening and perceiving reality in an integrated and holistic fashion
  • An understanding of prayer within the Teresian sense of intimacy with God
  • The ability to help people to grow in their prayer and spiritual life
  • A deep knowledge of the history of Carmelite spirituality, its biblical roots and where it sits within the history of Christian spirituality and in particular contemplative Christian spirituality.
  • Experience of at-homeness with a living Carmelite community
  • Gaining a deep knowledge of the life, writing and teachings of the principal Carmelite Saints: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity and Brother Lawrence. The candidates will have appropriated the disciplines they illuminate so compellingly: silence, solitude, community, contemplation, presence, prayer, listening, discernment, hospitality and integration.
  • A deepening of their understanding of Catholic worldview informed by scripture, the living tradition of the Church, the living magisterium, the lived experience of members of the Church who may live peaceably with the Church’s teaching and those who struggle with it.
  • An understanding of biblical Christian Anthropology and our core identity as Beloved of God, informed by insights from Carmelite saints
  • A portfolio of resources on prayer and spiritual formation which can be a source for personal spiritual enrichment, e.g. journaling, images, symbols, etc.

Key Features

The following are the key features of our unique programme.

  1. Hybrid Model. The unique combination of non-residential sessions and online support through a phased release of learning resources makes it possible for people with various jobs and other commitments to have access to the programme without needing to give up these other commitments. Those who may find online learning a challenge will receive learning resources by post.
  2. Focused in Structure and Approach. The course modules taught over a nine-month period by seasoned experts explore in depth the essential aspect in the topic of prayer and spiritual formation. They are delivered with sustained momentum which facilitates continuous learning while allowing dedicated time for exploring and experiencing the key features in the contemplative practice of prayer.
  3. Contemplative in Focus. Contemplative prayer – with prayer understood in the Teresian sense as an intimate conversation with a friend – is Carmel’s essential contribution to the Church. The programme is intent on introducing participants to, and immersing them in, formats of learning and the practice of prayer that will encourage them to grow in intimacy with God and in their own capacity for contemplative awareness, which is a way of being, living, seeing, listening and perceiving reality in an integrated and holistic fashion.
  4. Authentically Catholic. Our Programme is based on an understanding of prayer in the Catholic Tradition rooted in Sacred Scripture. It strives to facilitate the work of the Spirit in the Church and in each believer as articulated by Saint Paul the Apostle: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26-27)
  5. Ecumenical in Outreach. The prayer of Christ, that all his followers may be one, and our common baptism impel us towards greater unity and thus Christians of all faith traditions are welcome on the Programme and our selection process deliberately encourages this diversity. We recognise that, as the Spirit is at work in all Christian traditions, our Programme provides a forum where the mutual enrichment of Christians from diverse faith traditions, ministerial experiences, as well as educational and cultural backgrounds, can be made possible.
  6. Influenced by the Venerable Carmelite Tradition. Our Programme is founded on a tradition with an 800-year history from which has emerged a host of great saints and writers who have enriched the Church and guided countless pilgrims along the road of prayer. Saint Teresa of Avila is officially known in the Church as the Doctor of Prayer in recognition of her eminent teaching on prayer and the spiritual life. Her work and those of other saints in the Carmelite tradition such as John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Thérèse of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity and Edith Stein illuminate so compellingly the disciplines appropriate to the life of prayer: solitude, silence, community, contemplation, presence, listening and discernment.
  7. Led by Seasoned Practitioners. All who contribute to our programme – speakers, mentors and facilitators – are experts in their fields with many years of experience in striving to lead a dedicated prayer life. Each member of the team has completed the required formation in the Carmelite contemplative tradition and is faithful to living a contemplative lifestyle (a mindful attunement to the Divine Presence and integration of prayer practices into their daily lives).
  8. Communal in Emphasis. Everyone involved in the programme – candidates, mentors, facilitators – are invited to identify themselves as a pilgrim and learning community. We abide by Saint Teresa’s teaching: “In this house, all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped.”
  9. Accompanier-Guided. Throughout the Programme, personal and interpersonal care remain in view. The accompanier’s role is to support and assist course participants, both one-on-one and in a small group. Accompaniers help to facilitate participants’ engagement with the learning process, integration of the insights from shared guidance and discernment of the journey towards ownership of the gift of prayer.
  10. Experiential and Practical Learning. Each course module facilitates experiential and practical learning by providing opportunities for growth and integration gained from personal reflection and communal activities.

Guidance

Individual prayer guidance will be offered as an essential part of the School of Prayer, and the Week of Individually Guided Prayer will be an integral part of the course.

Course Requirements

The School of Prayer is open to all who wish to deepen their experience and knowledge of prayer and to explore the journey of prayer with others. One does not need to be a Carmelite or even know much of Carmelite spirituality to be part of the programme. All that is necessary is a commitment to one’s prayer life and a heartfelt desire to draw from the rich tradition of Carmelite spirituality in deepening one’s prayer experience.

Course dates

The non-residential sessions of programme will be offered once a month at the Carmelite Priory in Boars Hill, Oxford, in addition to the Weekend of Individually Guided Prayer. The Saturday programme starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Lunch is included.

2020 2021
September 12 January 16
October 10 February 13
November 14 March 20
December 12 April 17
May 8

Course Price

We adopt a tiered pricing system. Our quoted prices are fully inclusive of participation in the course, refreshments, two course lunch, and full access to the Carmelite Priory facilities, e.g., our meditation rooms, chapel and library. We believe that the benefits of spiritual formation should be available to everyone regardless of their financial or life situation and that the transformational journey is enriched by a diversity of participants. Recognising that what is affordable for some can be a financial stretch for others, we are happy to offer a tiered pricing structure (Sustainable Price and Supported Price) for our courses. When you book, please select the price that feels appropriate for you.

Our Sustainable Price is £700. This can be paid in instalments.

Our Supported Price is £600. This can also be paid in instalments and reflects a partial bursary toward the cost of the course and is intended for those with minor financial need.

Some bursaries may be available for church-based ministries. We would be happy to advise you.

Application

To download an application form please CLICK HERE

Please note: our courses fill up fast and so early registration is strongly recommended. Registration closes on 1 August 2020.

If you wish to enrol please complete an application form and email it to us at courses@carmelite.org.uk or send by post to:

Director of Programmes
Centre for Applied Carmelite Spirituality,
Carmelite Priory,
Boars Hill,
Oxford
OX1 5HB

Please include a non-refundable deposit of £200. Cheques to be made payable to “Carmelite Priory (CACS)”.

For bank transfers see details below:

Name of bank: Barclays
Switch Code: BUKBG22
IBAN: GB84 BUKB20651853108856
Account Name: Carmelite Priory (CACS)
Sort Code: 20-65-18
Account No.: 53108856

Cancellations and Refunds

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the CACS Administrator in writing: by email to courses@carmelite.org.uk or by post to Centre for Applied Carmelite Spirituality, Carmelite Priory, Boars Hill, OXFORD, OX1 5HB, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellations received up to and including 10 June 2020 – CACS will retain the non-refundable fee of £200; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 11 June – 11 July 2020 – CACS will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 12 August 2020 – no refunds will be made.

For more information please call 07849596572 or email: inquiries@carmelite.org.uk