Letting Teresa speak: An introduction to the life and teaching of St Teresa of Avila
The course will explore the main themes of Teresa’s life and spiritual teaching. By allowing Teresa to speak to us through her own words, it will provide participants with an insight into her character, her concerns, and the central themes of her mystical theology. While each week will consider a different aspect of Teresa’s life and thought, it is anticipated that themes will re-emerge and develop over the course of the sessions so that a holistic view of the saint emerges.
The course is suitable for those with little or no previous contact with Carmelite spirituality, for those wishing to ‘find a way in’ to Teresa’s writings, and for those who wish to develop further their appreciation of her unique teaching on prayer.
Over 6 weeks, this is a NEW ONLINE COURSE
Centre for Applied Carmelite Spirituality, Oxford
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Letting Teresa Speak – Sr Jo Robson, OCD
Schedule of sessions – to begin at 14:00 hrs UK time (times may vary)
Session One: Teresa: her life and times
The first session will establish the key events in Teresa’s life as well as filling in some of the background details. We will also take time to consider some of the historical, social and religious aspects of sixteenth-century Spain. This will help us understand how some of the themes in Teresa’s writings emerged from the particular context in which she was living.
Session Two: Teresa and tradition: the origins of religious life and the history of Carmel
Session two will continue to explore Teresa’s context, this time looking at the trajectory of religious life from its origins to the way of life she encountered when she entered the Monastery of the Incarnation. This will reveal how tradition influenced Teresa and guided her thinking about the new communities she was establishing.
Session Three: Reading Teresa
The third session will start to explore Teresa’s texts, looking at how she came to write them and different approaches to reading them. We will also begin to explore Teresa’s teaching on prayer, which is the primary focus of all her writing.
Session Four: Teresa and the human person
Session Four will explore Teresa’s ‘theological anthropology’ or her understanding of the human person and the process of transformation we undergo as we journey from the first stages of prayer towards the goal of mystical union.
Session Five: Teresa and prayer: the individual
In this session, we will look at Teresa’s own struggles with prayer, her experience of conversion, and how she came to base her teaching on prayer on the twin ideals of friendship with the human Christ and the journey inwards to the centre of the soul.
Session Six: Teresa and prayer: the ecclesial perspective
The final session will examine the ecclesial dimension of Teresian prayer; how prayer occurs both within and for the church. In particular, we will explore Teresa’s great insight that prayer concerns something bigger than simply the individual’s relationship to God and is inextricably bound up with our relationships within the human community.