Christian Spirituality in a Rapidly Changing World

“Twenty-first-century society is undergoing massive and accelerated change and dislocation at all levels – social, economic, political, cultural, and religious. In response, many of us hunger for a deeper intimacy with God and a more meaningful connection with fellow seekers on the spiritual path and with the natural world. It is this hunger that led Oblate School of Theology to launch a new ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited Master of Arts in Spirituality.”

The Jesuit scholar Philip Endean asks a profound and beautiful question that highlights the relevance of Christian spirituality for contemporary men and women: “What does it mean for the human person to be confronted by an unknown, lovely power that transforms us into its own loveliness?”

Endean’s question points to the heart of Christian spirituality: the progressive transformation of the human person in God. All the great Christian mystics, including Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen, have witnessed to this possibility of human transformation in God in both their lives and their writings.

The insights and practices of these Christian mystics and spiritual virtuosi are needed now more than ever. Twenty-first-century society is undergoing massive and accelerated change and dislocation at all levels – social, economic, political, cultural, and religious. In this rapidly changing world, the pace and pressures of everyday life can lead to feelings of anxiety, futility, and social isolation.

In response, many of us hunger for a deeper intimacy with God and a more meaningful connection with fellow seekers on the spiritual path and with the natural world. It is this hunger that led Oblate School of Theology to launch a new ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited Master of Arts in Spirituality in 2006. In Summer 2012, Oblate secured full ATS accreditation to offer the entire Master of Arts in Spirituality online as well. Now students from all over the world can study with Oblate’s world-class faculty led by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, Dr. Philip Sheldrake, Dr. Steven Chase, and Dr. Wendy Wright.

Oblate’s Master of Arts in Spirituality is a graduate level academic program designed to help students from a variety of Christian religious traditions deepen their understanding of Christian spirituality. As Oblate’s current President, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, notes: “The purpose of our Master of Arts in Spirituality is to immerse the student in the deep wells of the Christian mystical tradition as well as have him or her conversant with contemporary developments within Spirituality.”

Students at Oblate School of Theology can take courses on Desert Spirituality, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatian Spirituality, Spiritual Direction, Julian of Norwich, the Integration of Psychology and Spirituality, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and others. All Oblate spirituality courses seek to help students integrate their own spirituality with fundamental principles and insights from the Christian spiritual tradition.

Oblate’s student body is a diverse group of men and women from all over the world. Some of Oblate’s students are training for professional ministry or further academic study; some are seeking to prepare for various lay ministries including faith formation, retreat work, or spiritual direction. All our students are seeking to deepen their own spiritual life and practice.

Our graduates will be equipped to better understand their own spiritual journey and the mystery of human transformation in God. They will also be prepared to be valuable resources for spirituality and renewal centers, parish and retreat work, as well as other spirituality-related faith formation and educational programs in a culturally diverse and globalized world.

Oblate School of Theology was founded in San Antonio, Texas in 1903 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Since then OST has served South Texas, the United States, and the world by preparing persons for pastoral ministry. Over the last quarter of a century, OST’s mission has expanded to include the education and formation of pastoral and lay students within an ecumenical milieu.

The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Spirituality (ISCS) at Oblate School of Theology was founded in Fall 2013 in response to the growing awareness of the need for spirituality scholarship in both the academy as well as theological and religious institutions. Today the ISCS is the only concentrated, integrative program of its kind in the United States offering ATS accredited PhD, DMin, and MA degrees in Contemporary Spirituality. The mission of the ISCS is to serve as an international center of study to connect the contemporary quest for spirituality with the deep wells of the Christian spiritual and mystical traditions.


Cliff Knighten is Director of the MA in Spirituality at Oblate School of Theology

This article originally appeared on CruxNow.com

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