University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Finding Strength in Weakness - A Journey towards wholeness

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION The relationship between sense experience and spiritual experience is not one of juxtaposition (as the Gnostics would have it), but rather of “integration” and “dynamic union” (as St Irenaeus, countering the Gnostic stance, would attest). This fundamental principle which seeks to ensure a dialectical interplay, rather than a dichotomy, between the human and the spiritual emerges as indispensable for an integral psycho-spiritual growth of the individual believer. Hence, the process of integrating our weakness is one of allowing the experience of our weakness to speak to our spiritual experience which, in turn, sustains and conveys a meaning to our limitations. The Christian comes to realize that his journey to wholeness or sanctity must necessarily be moulded by the experience of his buffeting "thorn".

The study-unit intends to throw light on this integrative process of finding strength in weakness by drawing on material from the Sacred Scriptures, Spiritual literature and insights from the psychological field. A Case-Study will also be presented so as to adorn the discussion with a touch of realism, grounding the theoretical presentations in a more existential setting.

Study-unit Aims:

Following the study-unit, students will:
a) be able to appreciate a more 'holistic' approach to spirituality;
b) be ushered to the realization that weakness has a significantly spiritual value as it comes to give a particular contour to one's way to God, i.e. to one's spirituality.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
a) appreciate better what is meant by T. Aquinas' axiom: "Grace builds on nature"; hence the link between the human and the spiritual in one's ascent to God;
b) come to a more constructive appreciation of the experience of their own weakness, hopefully coming to envisage how it more as an ally, a pedagogue, a creative force, a source for spiritual strength, rather than a hindrance or a towering block.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to have some basic know-how or skills for coping more constructively and creatively with their own and others' experience of weakness.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- CENCINI, A., L’albero della vita. Verso un modello di formazione iniziale e permanente, Edizioni San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano) 2005.
- CUCCI, G., La forza della debolezza, EDB, Bologna 2007.
- MANENTI, A., Il pensare psicologico. Aspetti e prospettive, EDB, Bologna 1996.
- MARTINI, C.M., La debolezza è la mia forza. Meditazioni sulla seconda lettera ai Corinzi, Edizioni Piemme, Casale Monferrato (AL), 2000.
- MICKEY, P.A., “Strength in Weakness: From Text to Sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:7-9,” Interpretation 22 (1968) 288-300.
- "Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light. The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta,” edited and with commentary by B. Koldiejchuk, Doubleday, New York et al. 2007.
- NOUWEN, H.J.M., The Wounded Healer, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, London, 1994.
- O’COLLINS, G., “Power Made Perfect in Weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 33 (1971) 528-537.
- RAHNER, K., “The Man with the Pierced Heart,” in: Servants of the Word, Herder and Herder, New York 1968, 107-119.
- RAVAGLIOLI, A.M., Psicologia. Studio interdisciplinare della personalità, EDB, Bologna 2006.
- SZENTMÁRTONI, M., In cammino verso Dio. Riflessioni psicologici-spirituali su alcune forme di esperienza religiosa, Edizioni San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano) 1998.
- SZENTMÁRTONI, M., Psicologia della vocazione religiosa e sacerdotale, Editrice PUG, Rome 2005.
- SZENTMÁRTONI, M., “Volto e volti. Aspetti psico-spirituali dell’identità personale,” Gregorianum 82/3 (2001) 463-465.
- VU, L., The Human and Spiritual Dimension of Second Generation Vietnamese Seminarians, unpublished dissertation, Rome, 2007.
- VU, L., “Francesco d’Assisi e il lebbroso: psicodinamica dell’esperienza spirituale,” Tredimensioni 2 (2007) 154-161.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Ivan Scicluna

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.
21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017
The 21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017 will be celebrated on the 5th and 6th December 2017 with two lectures delivered by Rev. Prof. Theodore Dieter.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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