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Why Study Spiritual Theology?

The Avila Institute, in addition to the School of Spiritual Formation, offers a Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology. This Spring we are offering three courses for new students: Bible and the Revelation of Prayer, Wisdom of the Saints from Athanasius to Bernard, and Mystery of Mary and Her Role in the Spiritual Life. The Spring Quarter begins February 22nd, and you can apply here.


7 Reasons to Study Spiritual Theology


Avila Institute Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology


  1. To learn from our top-notch faculty: The quality of our faculty is one of the greatest things about the Avila Institute. In the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology, the majority of our professors have Doctorates in theology, and many have published books which are leading the faithful closer to Christ. Many readers of are familiar with Dan Burke and Dr. Anthony Lilles, both of whom teach in the Graduate Program.
  2. To equip yourself to serve the Church: The Avila Institute helps the faithful to better serve the needs of the Church by equipping them to help with catechesis, RCIA, and other parish apostolates. The truth of the Church is too precious to get wrong. Make sure you know the faith, especially in the area of spiritual theology where many tend to err, so that you can teach it to others.
  3. To become a spiritual director: The Church needs more spiritual directors. The ancient practice of spiritual direction is as old as the Church but it seems to have faded over the recent years. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said that “Anyone who takes himself for his own spiritual director is the disciple of a fool.” We need more men and women trained in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to help people along the journey of holiness. You can do this even as a lay person, and the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology equips you to become an effective spiritual director!
  4. To broaden you horizons: Even as fJohnOfTheCrossTeresaOfAvilaVisionOfTheTrinityCrop for post on Why Study Spiritual Theologyaithful Catholics, many of us don’t really know how to pray. Many Catholics cannot explain the difference between mental prayer and meditation or contemplation. Prayer changes the world. At the Avila Institute, you can learn about prayer from those who knew it best: the saints. You will see a profound change: first in yourself, then in the world.
  5. To discover which spirituality you relate to the best: In the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology, you will learn about the Spirituality of the Desert Fathers, Benedictine Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, Dominican Spirituality, Carmelite Spirituality, Ignatian Spirituality, Salesian Spirituality, and Carthusian Spirituality. You will learn the differences between the various traditions and what they all have contributed to the overall tradition of the Church.
  6. To grow in your personal relationship with Christ: Whereas most educational institutions are aimed at career-oriented results, the Avila Institute is more concerned about the state of one’s soul. Students testify time and time again that they experience major transformations in their relationship with God through courses at the Avila Institute.
  7. To change the world: In a world inundated with erroneous teachings on spirituality, the Avila Foundation is committed to providing resources on spiritual theology rooted in the tradition of the Church. Two things are present in all of the saints: A commitment to prayer and faithfulness to the Church. When these two things are present, it is a combination that changes the world. Help us change the world by learning how to think along with the Church in matters of spiritual theology.

While these are all reason enough to join the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology, you don’t just have to take my word for it. See what our students are saying:

“Everything here is permeated with the love of Jesus and His church. I do not know what the future holds for me or all the ways Jesus will ask me to serve Him, but I do know that I have grown closer to Him through my experiences here at the Avila Institute.”

“With the Spiritual Battle raging in our culture, we need to prepare ourselves to courageously stand strong against this most ferocious storm of evil.  Avila Institute is a great training ground for such an arduous endeavor.”

“The Graduate Level classes are definitely a challenge; but because of the compassion and dedication of the professors I find it well worth the effort. Taking Spiritual Theology classes and returning to school was something I never thought possible because of finances and my age. That idea was dispelled by Dan who told us that you are never too old to better your Spiritual Life.”

As you can see, students find their decision to join the Avila Institute Dr Anthony Lilleswell worth it. This Spring, we are offering three courses for new students: Bible and the Revelation of Prayer, Wisdom of the Saints from Athanasius to Bernard, and Mystery of Mary and Her Role in the Spiritual Life (taught by Dr. Anthony Lilles). The Graduate Program is the most academically rigorous program we offer. It includes 12 courses in addition to an apostolic experience and a retreat experience. If money is your only hesitation, please don’t let that stop you, as we are blessed to have donors who have made scholarships available for candidates without the financial resources for a graduate-level program. Just indicate that you are in need of scholarship on your application, and we'll see what we can do to work with you. You can learn more about the program at the Avila Institute website. Contact with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!


Art: Partial restoration detail of Vision of the Holy Trinity [with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and, on the featured image, possibly Beatriz of Ahumada], anonymous Brazilian painter, 17th century, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less; all three from Wikimedia Commons. Photograph of Dr. Anthony Lilles, used with permission.

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About Dylan Jedlovec

Dylan Jedlovec is an Operations Administrative Assistant at the Avila Foundation, parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio. Finishing up an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Economics from Samford University, Dylan is first and foremost a disciple of Christ and a son of the Church. Dylan has a heart for evangelization on college campuses, and has worked closely with FOCUS as a student missionary and served as President of the Catholic Student Association at Samford. As a member of the University Fellows Program at Samford, Dylan developed a love for the writings of the Saints, particularly the Doctors of the Church, through his studies of the core texts of the Western Intellectual Tradition. This love for the rich intellectual tradition of the faith brought him to the Avila Foundation, where he seeks to further the kingdom through feeding Christ’s sheep. In his free time, Dylan enjoys watching baseball, reading, hiking, running, and lifting weights (although you can’t really tell).

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  • paul Diemert

    With all the causes in this world that need prayer, I have kind of thrown up my hands and asked our Blessed Mother to take my prayer beginning with daily Mass, and apply them where she sees fit. Heaven knows about our five children and how much they need prayer, and including my wife who just suffered a stroke at seventy years old. As time goes forward, I often think I should single out one cause and pray like a warrior, but our thoughts are known; why not give them to our Mother? Is this an acceptable way to travel towards the end?

    • mtq33n

      WOW! I strongly relate to your comments. I have been pondering the same questions you pose. But you posted 4 days ago and I see that no one has attempted a response to your question or shared a thought. I wonder why.

      • LizEst

        mtq33n — Thanks for your comments. We like to give our authors a chance to answer the questions on their posts, first. Mr. Jedlovec is very good about that. But, as it turns out, the author has been at a conference. I’m sure when he gets a chance, he will answer. Please be patient with our system. As well, sometimes, we like to get a more theological answer to a question … and, sometimes, these questions appear later as a post all to themselves. Hope that helps your wonderment!

        • mtq33n

          My wonderment was related more to the fact that no other reader commented. I can’t think that Mr. Diemart and I are the only people who may have that question. My comment was not made out of impatience with the authors. I read this publication regularly with thanksgiving for all the thought and work.

          • LizEst

            OK. Some people comment a lot. Some don’t comment. Some folks comment now and then. Some others only on certain subjects. It’s a mixed bag. God bless you mtq33n! Happy Solemnity of the Epiphany today!

    • Dylan Jedlovec

      The Blessed Mother is indeed a great intercessor. In fact, Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort involves entrusting the distribution of the graces of our prayers to Mary, the mediatrix of all grace, so that she may distribute them according to the will of God. The practice of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary is a great way to ensure that your prayers bear the appropriate fruit and it is worth looking into. Father Michael Gaitley has compiled a consecration booklet entitled 33 Days to Morning Glory based on the teachings of the saints. God knows the desires of your heart and he wants to make us infinitely happy. Regardless of what we pray for, it is important to trust in His promises, for it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to pray and what to pray for.

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