Christendom College is offering a new spirituality program for students at this summer’s Vita Consecrata Institute (VCI), held on the college’s Front Royal, Va., campus. The new concentration, created for this year’s Institute as part of the graduate program, gives students the opportunity to either earn their MA degree with a concentration in spirituality or earn a certificate in spirituality.
In contrast to other spirituality programs which tend to stress a psychological or introspective approach to the spiritual life, Christendom’s curriculum focuses on understanding the workings of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual life, by concentrating on the four essential means to holiness: prayer, sacraments, asceticism, and the pursuit of virtue. With this new concentration, students can now study spiritual theology in order to foster their own spiritual development, or they can learn how to act as spiritual guides or mentors to others.
The foundation of the program is the solid theological and philosophical basis provided by the core requirements of Christendom’s MA program, including courses in Scripture, dogmatic theology, moral theology, and philosophy, especially the philosophy of the human person.
While these foundational courses may be taken year-round, either on campus or online, the spirituality courses are only available as part of the summer Vita Consecrata Institute, since the spiritual and personal formation offered by the VCI is an essential element of the spirituality program.
Spiritual direction is a ministry that is growing in the Church, especially with the recent emphasis on the New Evangelization and the universal call to holiness promoted by the Second Vatican Council. Many Christians are committed to living a Catholic life in a de-Christianized society, and to do this they need guidance and spiritual direction.
While spiritual direction is the proper role of the priest, the scarcity of priests and the growing desire for spiritual direction requires that others, both religious and lay, assist the priest in this important ministry as spiritual mentors. This responsibility of guiding souls requires certain personal qualities and proper formation. According to the spiritual masters, the three qualities that should be found in a spiritual director or mentor are holiness of life, knowledge of the spiritual life, and prudence. The goal in offering the new program is to provide the academic and spiritual formation needed for this ministry of guiding souls.
The 2015 Vita Consecrata Institute takes place over two sessions, from June 29 through July 24. Participants are welcome for the whole four weeks or for either two-week session.
For information about the new spirituality concentration or to register for the VCI, please visit christendom.edu/graduate or call 703.658.4304.
This story is taken in part from the spring edition of Instaurare, Christendom College’s quarterly magazine. To read more or subscribe, please visit christendom.edu/news/instaurare.