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Give Yourself an Eternal Education

Give Yourself an Eternal Education [Avila Course]

“I am a better Christian and [a] more humble and prayerful priest because of the three courses I have done with the [Avila] Institute,” wrote Fr. Teboho Martin Makoro, one of the priests who benefits from the education we offer.

Our focus at the Avila Institute is on teaching spiritual theology and, specifically, helping students deepen their relationship with Christ. Another student, George Griffith, shared, “I cannot adequately express the blessings I have received and the gratitude I feel for the opportunity I’ve had to study the rich treasures of the Church in this class on prayer and the journey to union with God.”

Taking a course with Avila is so much more than just an education: it’s an eternal investment.

This is our final course listing for the Fall 2015 Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation courses. The deadline for new student registrations is coming up soon: August 10! Getting started is easy.

Give Yourself an Eternal Education -

School of Spiritual Formation Courses:

Foundations of Prayer and Union with God (SSF 102)

Session 1 (September 7 – October 12); Mondays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

This course will include a review of the purgative, illuminative, and unitive phases of spiritual growth and the related challenges and prescriptions for prayer in each. It will provide an understanding of the entire spectrum of ascetical and mystical dimensions of prayer from vocal prayer to contemplation including insights into how to deepen one’s prayer life, understanding the process of deepening prayer with respect to disposition and virtue, the dark night of the soul as it applies to the transition from ascetical to mystical prayer. The main body of study in prayer progress will include Ignatian dimensions (as with meditation) but will mostly focus on Carmelite perspective and particularly on the teachings of St. Teresa of Avila.

Angels and Demons (SSF 275)

Session 1 (September 7 – October 12); Tuesdays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

Explore the reality and nature of angelic beings, their role in the lives of the faithful, fallen angels, their power, role, and origin. This course will also include discussion about possession and exorcism.

Introduction to St. John of Avila (SSF 226)

Session 2 (November 2 – December 14; no classes November 25-28 and December 8); Tuesdays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

The course surveys the life, influence and spiritual teaching of Saint John of Avila. Known as the Apostle of Andalusia, this renowned preacher and man of prayer from the 16th Century though imprisoned by the Inquisition was later consulted by Saint Teresa of Avila and the Fathers of the Council of Trent. Many who were converted by his preaching and spiritual counsel themselves became saints including Saint John of God and Saint Francis Borgia. In our time, Pope Benedict XVI declared him Doctor of the Church. This course explores his spiritual teaching imbued with the language of the Sacred Scriptures and a certain experiential wisdom is found in selections from his master work written over the course of his life for a soul who sought him as a spiritual director, Audi, Filia (Listen, O Daughter).

Introduction to St. John of the Cross (SSF 230)

Session 2 (November 2 – December 14; no classes November 25-28 and December 8); Thursdays*, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

*This reflects an update

St. John of the Cross is one of the most misunderstood of the spiritual doctors of the Church, yet his wisdom has led untold numbers of thirsty pilgrims to pure wells of salvation, contemplation, and union with God. In this course we will explore John’s life, introduce his major writings and his central teachings on prayer, meditation, contemplation, and the dark night of the soul. We will place particular emphasis on correcting any misunderstandings of his writings and revealing the profound beauty of his revelation of God’s path to mystical union.

Discernment of Spirits (SSF 105)

Session 2 (November 2 – December 14; no classes November 25-28 and December 8); Wednesdays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

(Please note: there was a change of schedule for this course.)

This course will explore the theory and practice of the discernment of spirits as embodied in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s fourteen rules for discernment of spirits contained in his Spiritual Exercises. These fourteen rules provide one of the clearest and most comprehensive explanations of the discernment of spirits in the Christian spiritual tradition.

The course will examine the principles and process of the discernment of spirits in the Ignatian tradition by drawing upon both the original text and a commentary of St. Ignatius’s fourteen rules of discernment. This course will also provide students with a better understanding of these principles so that they may apply them to their own spiritual lives and thus recognize more clearly the action of God in their daily lives.

Graduate Program Courses:

Introduction to Spiritual Theology (1000)

Wednesdays, 9-11 PM EST

This systematic presentation of Spiritual Theology and the principles of spiritual direction is geared toward personal appropriation for those involved in the apostolate. Lecture topics include the universal call to holiness, the indwelling of the Trinity, the nature and stages of Christian perfection, the supernatural organism and the Christian life, identification with Jesus and Mary, kinds and stages of prayer, the means to spiritual maturity appropriate for the various states of life, discernment of spirits, and ordinary and extraordinary mystical phenomena.

(Note: this course is a prerequisite course and should be taken by incoming students)

The Mystery of Mary and Her Role in the Spiritual Life (2300)

Mondays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

This course opens with a biblical survey of Mary’s role beginning in Genesis and as further revealed in each scriptural revelation of her role. Upon this biblical foundation we will explore extra-biblical tradition in the thought of Sts. Louis De Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, and John Paul II with particular emphasis on Mary’s relationship to the Blessed Trinity, her perfect example as the preeminent disciple of Christ, and her role as spiritual mother to all believers.

Spiritual Wisdom of Eastern Christianity (2500)

Thursdays, 8:30-10:30 PM EST

The Catholic Faith is made up not only of the Roman Catholic Tradition but also the Eastern Christian Tradition. They both hold the fullness of the Catholic Faith, which is expressed differently in each tradition. This course explores the spiritual wisdom found in Eastern Christianity.

There are many different Eastern traditions, but this course focuses mainly on the Byzantine tradition, which is numerically the largest of the Eastern families and best known to Westerners. The spiritual wisdom is addressed by looking at Byzantine liturgical tradition (including liturgical cycles and services, iconography and hymnody, and liturgical mysticism) and Hesychasm (the prayer of the heart, often called the Jesus prayer).

New student application deadline for Fall Quarter courses is coming quickly: August 10, 2015! Apply online HERE. Current students have already been sent access codes for all upcoming courses: if you are a current student and have not received the access codes, please contact us. For more information on any of our programs, please contact me at or visit

With live, interactive, online courses, the Avila Institute can bring the classroom to you no matter where you are located in the world. Want to know more about what the Avila Institute has to offer you? Click HERE to read more.

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About Nicole Garcia

Nicole Garcia is an Admissions Counselor for the Avila Institute. She is excited to speak with anyone who is interested in learning more about the Avila Institute. All those discerning the Avila Institute are in her prayers. Know that if you feel even a tiny pull or interest, Nicole hopes to hear from you! To learn more about the School of Spiritual Formation or the Graduate Program at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, please contact Nicole at or 520-429-4524.

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