Letting Teresa Speak: An exploration of her life and teaching
2022 marks the fourth centenary of the canonisation of Teresa of Avila by Pope Gregory XV. Four hundred years later, the example of Teresa’s life, and the precepts of her mystical teaching, continue to guide, instruct and inspire. This course will let Teresa speak to us afresh, leading us deep into the intimate friendship with Christ that she enjoyed and to which she longed to draw others.
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.
Weekly information packs will provide suggestions for preparatory reading, as well as relevant background information, questions for reflection and a summary of the areas to be covered in the session.
Listen to our video below to find out more:
Meet our speaker
Sr Jo Robson, OCD is a member of the Carmelite community in Ware, Hertfordshire. She is currently the joint coordinator of the initial formation programme for Carmelite sisters in the UK and a member of the editorial team for Mount Carmel. She is part of the Beyond Teresa research project based at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, and is presently exploring patristic influences on St Teresa’s life and writings.
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.
Saturday 22nd January 2022
Session One Teresa: her life and times
Saturday 29th January 2022
Session Two: Teresa and tradition: the origins of religious life and the history of Carmel
Saturday 5th February 2022
Session Three: Reading Teresa
Saturday 12th February 2022
Session Four: Teresa and the human person
Saturday 19th February 2022
Session Five: Teresa and prayer: the individual
Saturday 26th February 2022
Session Six: Teresa and prayer: the ecclesial perspective
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