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MA in Spirituality Course Descriptions

Core Courses

Introduction to Spirituality (RTS5010)

Course Description: An introduction to the spiritual dimension of human experience as described and practiced in various religious traditions, sacred texts and ascetic practices, and contemplation, with attention to the language and concepts that have emerged from these texts, traditions and practices over the centuries, and their relevance for contemporary spiritual experience and the search for meaning.

Learning Goals: students will be able to:

  • name the major spiritual traditions from human history
  • relate the sacred texts of at least 3 major traditions to spiritual practice
  • explore the relationship between the history of spirituality and contemporary existential questions and ethics.

Christian Spirituality (RTS5020)

Course Description: An introduction to the foundations of Christian Spirituality as found in contemplative prayer, the Bible, Christian worship and moral teaching; attention will be given to major spiritual movements in Christian history, including Augustinian and other religious orders, Protestant movements and contemporary intentional Christian lay communities; the relationship between contemplation, spirituality, morality and social justice.

Learning Goals: students will be able to:

  • name the relationship between Christian teaching and Christian spirituality
  • give an overview of the major spiritual traditions within Christianity, including the Augustinian tradition
  • explain the importance of contemplation in Catholic spirituality and experience
  • explain the relationship between spirituality, a morally good life and dedication to the common good. 

Spirituality and Social Justice (RTS5030)

Course Description: An integration of Christian interiority, the search for meaning and the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching; the themes of basic human dignity, human rights, the common good and social justice will also be explored in other spiritual traditions.

Learning Goals: students will be able to

  • explain the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching
  • relate each of these themes with a dimension of the spiritual life as found in Christian spirituality
  • relate each of these themes with a dimension of the spiritual life as found in another spiritual tradition.

Spirituality in a Religiously Diverse World (RTS5040)

Course Description: An exploration of what the spiritualities found in major world religions share in common, and how they are different. Following the method of Comparative Theology, the course will focus on particular spiritual teachings, texts, and practices examining from different traditions for a close study of their similarities as well as their fundamental differences. Particular attention will be given to the distinctive themes of Christian Spiritualities.

Learning Goals: students will be able to

  • explain the method of Comparative Theology and its application to the study of spiritualities
  • explain, compare and contrast a specific spiritual tradition or teaching as it appears and is practiced in two different spiritualities
  • explain the importance of contemplation in the major world religions

Seminar in the Spiritual Life (RTS5600)

Course Description: An 8-credit intensive two-semester seminar course addressing basic practices foundational for the spiritual life.

Meets every two weeks for 4 hour sessions (64 hours over two semesters)
+ four 8 hour Saturday retreats (Sept, Oct, Feb, Mar) (32 hours)
+ two 16 hour Saturday-Sunday retreats (Nov, April) (32 hours)
= total of 128 meeting hours over two semesters

Learning Goals:

In the 1st semester students will:

  • identify and express dimensions of self-knowledge
  • relate self-knowledge to their images of God
  • explore and create prayer forms with special attention to contemplation
  • assess their personal gifts and talents through group dynamics and individual interviews
  • explore the tradition of spiritual direction and become familiar with its particular language
  • practice contemplation and reflect together on that practice.

In the 2nd semester students will

  • consider life challenges that intersect with spirituality, such as:
    • doubt, faith and organized, institutional religion
    • gender and identity issues
    • intimacy and sexual issues, and church or religious teachings
    • life cycle issues, including aging
    • trauma
  • learn, practice and develop the skill of empathic listening
  • grow in awareness of spiritual growth and movement through a prayer journal
  • practice disciplined contemplation and reflect together on that practice.

Practicum in Spiritual Direction (RTS5650)

Course Description: A eight-credit intensive two-semester practicum under individual supervision, together with sustained individual and group reflection on the experience of doing spiritual direction.           

Meets every two weeks for 3 hour sessions (48 hours over two semesters)
+ four 8 hour Saturday retreats (Sept, Oct, Feb, Mar) (32 hours)
+ one 16 hour Saturday-Sunday retreat (April)
+ 16 hours of providing spiritual direction over two semesters
+ 16 hours of supervision over two semesters
= total of 128 hours over two semesters

Learning Goals:

In the 1st semester students will focus on the ministry of spiritual direction and will:

  • further their praxis of empathic listening
  • explore the differences between professional counseling and spiritual direction
  • examine the ethics of the profession of spiritual direction
  • explore the importance of supervision for a spiritual director through the use of triads.
  • psychodynamics between director and directee including
    • projection
    • transference
    • resistance
  • the application of ethical theory to spiritual direction case studies

Students will begin to provide spiritual direction for one client, under supervision and will continue their practice of contemplation and reflection on that practice.

In the 2nd semester student will:

  • continue peer supervision through triads
  • identify their own issues, challenges and program for continuing growth
  • continue the application of ethical theory to spiritual direction case studies.

Students will continue to provide spiritual directions for one client under supervision and will continue their practice of contemplation and reflection on that practice.

Masters Thesis and Seminar (RTS5700)

Students who chose the thesis option will work under the direction of a professor to research and write a graduate-level a thesis paper. If two or more students are working on a thesis paper, they will meet in seminar on a regular basis, either on campus or on-line. (4 credits)

Independent research in various spiritual concentrations and traditions (RTS5750)

Under the direction of a professor, a student can research a particular topic and demonstrate introductory competency in that topic through writing or other graduate level project. (4 credits)

Take it to the next level - the graduate level - at Merrimack.