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Speakers

Scripture and Contemplative Spirituality Conference 12th July – 14th July 2019

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Susan Muto, Ph.D. Dean, Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality

Topic: ‘You alone have the words of eternal life’: The Scriptural Roots of Carmelite Wisdom and Christian Spirituality in St John’s Sayings of Light and Love

This presentation will highlight selected Sayings that both directly and indirectly refer to Holy Scripture and point to its profound influence on St John’s commitment to compose them with discretion, light, and love. It will briefly trace these ‘operations of the soul’ in the classics of Christian Spirituality written by three Doctors of the Church who preceded St John:  Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Bonaventure of Bagnorea. Applications of these selected Sayings will be made to the art and discipline of Christian discipleship as exemplified in the Carmelite tradition of integrating sanctity and service as we pray with St John, ‘Father of mercies, come to our aid, for without you, Lord, we can do nothing.’

Susan Muto, PhD is Executive Director of the Epiphany Association, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Dean of the Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality.  She holds a doctorate in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh, where she specialised in the work of post-Reformation spiritual writers.

Dr Muto’s many books include companion texts to the masterpieces of St John of the Cross. Her latest book is Gratefulness: The Habit of a Grace-Filled Life (Ave Maria Press: 2018) She has also recorded popular audio series. Her articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, Mount Carmel, and Human Development. She has written more than forty books, many of them co-authored with the renowned Fr Adrian van Kaam, CSSp.  She lectures internationally on the Judeo-Christian formation tradition.

In 2014 she received the Aggiornamento Award presented by the Catholic Library Association in recognition of an outstanding contribution made by an individual or organisation to the ministry of renewal modelled by Pope St John XXIII.

Dr Margaret Barker

Topic: Gazing on the Mystery: The Temple Tradition of Seeking the Face of God in Ancient Judaism

This presentation will focus on the Temple custom of seeking the Face of the Lord in ancient Israel, how this became controversial, and how early Christians restored this ancient practice.

Margaret Barker has developed an approach to Biblical Studies now known as Temple Theology. She read theology at the University of Cambridge, England, and went on to pursue her research independently. She was elected President of the Society for Old Testament Study in 1998, and edited the Society’s second Monograph Series, published by Ashgate. She has so far written 17 books, which form a sequence, later volumes building on her earlier conclusions.

Since 1997, she has been part of the symposium Religion, Science and the Environment, convened by His All Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch. This work has led her to develop the practical implications of Temple Theology as the basis for a Christian environment theology.

In July 2008 Margaret Barker was awarded a DD by the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘in recognition of her work on the Jerusalem Temple and the origins of Christian Liturgy, which has made a significantly new contribution to our understanding of the New Testament and opened up important fields for research.’

Margaret Barker is a mother and grandmother, a Methodist Preacher, and was involved for over 30 years with the work of a Women’s Refuge.

Session Speakers

Fr Matt Blake, OCD

Topic: ‘This doctrine is excellent, and it is not mine, but taught by God’: How St Teresa became a great Teacher of Prayer

Fr Matt is a Discalced Carmelite of the Anglo-Irish Province. He has been the Regional Delegate and the Prior of Boars Hill and Kensington priories. He is the National Director of the Carmelite Secular Order, UK and in this capacity has developed an extensive Carmelite ministry in the doctrine of our saints and the Carmelite tradition. He has given retreats over many years and is well known as a spiritual director and speaker.

Sr Jo Robson, OCD

Topic: Scripture in the Rule of St Albert: A Model for Carmelite Biblical Spirituality

With its numerous biblical citations, Albert’s Rule is the most scriptural of the religious rules, and contains a number of precepts placing Scripture at the heart of Carmelite spirituality. This paper will argue that, above and beyond these, Albert’s own use of Scripture in the text is itself highly informative and illustrates key features of the biblical spirituality which lies at the heart of the Carmelite tradition.

Sr Jo Robson is a Discalced Carmelite nun from the community of Ware. She was a keynote speaker at the conference held at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, to mark the fifth centenary of St Teresa’s birth, and a member of the committee organising the centenary celebrations across the UK. Sr Jo is now joint coordinator of the formation programme for novices in our British Carmels. She has an MA in Christian Theology from the University of London with a thesis on Edith Stein and the political theology of J-B Metz.

Dr Roderick Campbell Guion, OCDS

Topic: Elizabeth of the Trinity and her use of Scripture as a transformative medium

Roderick is a Faculty member and tutor at the Carmelite Institute of Britain and Ireland. Having retired from the practice of Architecture, he studied Christian Spirituality at the University of London, where he completed his doctoral thesis on the recently canonised French Carmelite mystic and saint, Elizabeth of the Trinity.

He continues to pursue his research interest in the Christian Mystical Tradition, particularly the Discalced Carmelites in France and Spain.

Dr Sarah Shaw

Topic: Mindfulness and Buddhism

Dr Shaw is a Faculty Member at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and an Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

One of her key research interests is Indian and Asian influences on British nineteenth-century writers, of whom Rudyard Kipling is surely the most famous. In her presentation on mindfulness, Dr Shaw will explore its practice in Buddhism.

Mark Leonard

Topics: Social Mindfulness as Empowerment

Mark Leonard has searched for a means to make meditation accessible to a mass audience since the early 2000s. He played a key role in establishing the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, opened in 2008, and then adapted Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for the workplace. Using the results of a series of innovations, he developed a new social approach to teaching mindfulness in the workplace and community, Mindfulness-Based Organisational Education (MBOE), to foster social leadership and systemic change.

The prevailing narrative tells us that society provides the opportunity to improve our lot by developing skills that we sell for fair return in the marketplace. Since the ideas that drove the Enlightenment, enterprise and ethics have been divided between the domains of faith and human enterprise. While we have succeeded in satisfying our material needs, many live unhappy, lonely lives. As self-help or therapy, mindfulness is effective at managing the stress, but this does not go to the root of the problem. ‘Social mindfulness’ applies mindfulness to understanding the social causes of stress and empower change. This approach combines mindfulness with a sense of relatedness to break the illusion of individualism and division between the realms of mind and matter. Mark will explain the ideas that underpin social mindfulness, he will facilitate group activities, and will lead guided mindfulness meditations that can empower change.

Jean Khoury

Topics: “Lectio Divina and Prayer of the Heart according to Carmelite Spirituality”

Jean is a French Catholic Theologian, specialising in Spiritual Formation, with more than twenty-five years of experience with Consecrated and Lay people. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and his Masters in Spiritual Theology from Toulouse (France) and the Teresianum (Rome). He is presently completing his Ph.D. in Spiritual Theology at the Angelicum (Rome). Jean’s formation was greatly enhanced by the Discalced Carmelite Fathers.

He has lectured in Spiritual Theology in different universities with a practical focus. Many of his articles, studies and books have been published internationally. In 2003, Jean founded the ‘School of Mary’ which offers formation in Spiritual the Life, many video courses being available at www.schoolofmary.org . Lectio Divina and Contemplative Prayer are amongst the most important forms of prayer addressed.

Jean gives Spiritual Direction on a regular basis and also gives retreats. He is married, has a daughter and is based in London.

Angela Rogerson

Topic: Guided Meditation Session

Angela combined a career as a university lecturer (in Spanish) with working in Prayer Accompaniment. A founder-member of the Lancashire Spirituality Network, she has for many years been involved in offering Weeks of Guided Prayer in parishes and at Tabor Carmelite Retreat House in Preston (closed 2017). Since retiring from academic work in 2011, Angela has trained as a teacher of mindfulness meditation and offers regular courses and practice in mindfulness. Angela also offers Spiritual Direction and contributes to Schools of Prayer and other training and retreat work. She recently completed a new translation of The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila which is awaiting publication. She is married to John and with five grandchildren, she considers family a high priority in her life.

Professor Peter Tyler

Topic: Mindfulness the Carmelite Way: Lessons from the Tradition

Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. His most recent book is Christian Mindfulness: Theology and Practice (SCM, 2018).

In this lecture and workshop we shall look at the origins and function of contemplative prayer in the Carmelite tradition. Drawing on material from the Desert Fathers and Carmelite saints such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, we shall explore how, and to what extent, Carmelite contemplation intersects with contemporary practices of ‘mindfulness’.

Lucinda Mary Vardey

Topics:
– The Twelve Degrees of Silence: Realising the Benefits of a Contemplative Prayer Practice
– Contemplating Beauty in God’s Book of Nature


The Twelve Degrees of Silence: Realising the Benefits of a Contemplative Prayer Practice

Described by Edith Stein as a ‘Chosen Vessel of Divine Wisdom’, 19th-century French Carmelite Marie-Aimée de Jésus is the author of The Twelve Degrees of Silence which offers a series of spiritual exercises that provide a map on the path to unity.

In this workshop we will reflect on silence as the foundation of contemplative prayer and identify the next step each of us can take to quieten the senses while readying our hearts for Divine union.

‘…the more interior is the soul, the more secure, substantial and delightful; because the more interior it is, the purer it is. And the greater the purity, the more abundantly, frequently, and generously God communicates himself.’

St John of the Cross

Contemplating Beauty in God’s Book of Nature

St Teresa of Avila wrote in her autobiography that she found it helpful to look at a field or water or flowers because: ‘These reminded me of the Creator and they awakened me, helped me to recollect myself and thus served me as a book.’

This workshop is an introduction to praying in the natural world.  It offers guidance on how to be attentive, interpret experiences and give meaning to encounters.

‘How that beautiful nature would transport my soul and move it to thanksgiving to the Creator; to think that He has made all that for us!!!’

St Elizabeth of the Trinity

 Born and educated in England, Lucinda emigrated to Canada to further her career in book publishing and author representation. She sold her own company of literary agents in l993, married business ethics consultant, writer and theologian, John Dalla Costa, and renovated an ancient house in Tuscany, Italy. After training as an experiential teacher and Gestalt facilitator in San Francisco, she served on the faculty of the Living Spirit programme at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre as well as leading guided retreats and pilgrimages to the sites of Italian saints.

In 2001 she co-sponsored an international conference in Toronto called Anima: The Soul of the Feminine, which encompassed all religions, as well as psychology and philosophy, and became the springboard for the founding of a membership of women helping local women and those in need as far afield as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In 2012 she formed a new lay community for Catholic women under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Toronto, called The Contemplative Women of St. Anne, whose charism is silence, prayer and the study of women contemplative saints and holy women.

Most recently she was moved to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to define ‘a profound theology of women’ by organising, with some colleagues at the Vatican, a series of international seminars in Rome called ‘Towards an Intrinsic Feminine Theology’.

She has written and published many books and edited anthologies, as well as translating spiritual texts from French and Italian.

Her favourite pastimes are tending the garden and playing the piano.

Website: http://www.dallaluce.com/home_lucinda.html