University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Major Themes in Carmelite Spirituality

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION The Carmelite Rule clarifies that “Many and varied are the ways in which our saintly forefathers laid down how everyone, whatever his station or the kind of religious observance he has chosen, should live a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ - how, pure in heart and stout in conscience, he must be unswerving in the service of his Master” (Rule, 2). Throughout the ages, Carmelites found their raison d’être in this definition of the fundamental goal of religious life. The obsequium Iesu Christi is in fact a reference to the common Christian spirituality, presented to the Carmelite-hermits as their specific vocation. Carmelites can never be more than excellent Christians who follow Christ and live in allegiance to him. Therefore to be a Carmelite, nothing more is needed than to become follower of Jesus Christ.

Carmelite spirituality can be looked at as an 800-year-old living commentary on this fundamental goal seen, from the beginning, as a coin with two sides: “the exercise of the virtues, assisted by divine grace” and “to taste somewhat in the heart and to experience in the mind the power of the divine presence and the sweetness of heavenly glory not only after death but already in this mortal life”. Perhaps that is why Carmel is always so appealing to spiritual wayfarers, whatever their creed, faith or philosophy of life. Intuitively, Thomas Merton affirmed “there is no member of the Church who does not owe something to Carmel.”

Therefore in this study-unit we will delve into the experience and zeal of Carmelites for contemplation, spirituality and mysticism, to unearth major themes that emerge from this major school of spirituality. Special attention will be given to prayer the ars artium and the door of entry into the path of contemplation. While presenting various theories and forms of prayer that developed in 800 years of Carmelite history we will explore fundamental themes such as vacare Deo, puritas cordis. The main forms include: Pondering on the Word of God (Lectio divina and Meditation), Liturgical Prayer and the use of devotions and sacramentals, The Practice of God’s Presence, Aspirative Prayer and Mystical Prayer, that nurture and sustain the life of allegiance to Jesus Christ.

Study-Unit Aims:

By the end of the study-unit, participants will:
- have examined a deeper knowledge of the main metaphors and analogies of Carmelite Spirituality.
- have distinguished between the main instruments of Carmelite theology to figure out their spiritual quest.
- have practised and assessed the practice and method used in various forms of Carmelite prayer.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text:

- VALABEK, REDEMPTUS M., Prayer Life in Carmel. Historical Sketches, Rome: Institutum Carmelitanum, 1982.

Supplementary Readings:

- Dizionario Carmelitano, edited by BOAGA EMANUELE - BORIELLO LUIGI, Rome: Citta' Nuova, 2008.
- Horizons. The Carmelite Spiritual Directory Project, I- , Melbourne: Carmelite Communications, 1999 -
- [RIBOT, FELIP], The Ten Books on the Way of Life and Great Deeds of the Carmelites, edited and translated by Richard Copsey, Kent/Rome: Saint Albert’s Press/Edizioni Carmelitane, 2005.

A comprehensive bibliography, including the Carmelite classics of spirituality, will be distributed to the participants at the beginning of the course of the unit.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Glen Attard
Charlo Camilleri

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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