Christian Spirituality

Program Director: Paul E. McGreal, JD, LLM

Graduate Study in Christian Spirituality

Creighton University’s graduate program in Christian Spirituality holds as its primary value the integration of these three elements:

  1. a thorough knowledge of Christian Spirituality based on Scripture, Church Tradition and Christian heritage, contemporary theology and psychology with an emphasis on Ignatian Spirituality;
  2. experiential appropriation of the mysteries of the Christian faith, grounded in human development through reflection, prayer and communal worship;
  3. an apostolic orientation directed toward more effective ministry skills especially toward preparation for giving spiritual direction and directed retreats. These are not viewed as successive stages or compartments but as a lived synthesis of mind, heart and mission.

Program Goals

At the completion of their program, the graduates will:

  1. Master the skills required to deliver spiritual direction in the contemplative evocative manner in an individual retreat setting and adhere to Spiritual Directors International's Standard of Ethical Practice (Certificate program).
  2. Analyze, interpret, and critique advanced scholarly writing in the field of study of Christian Spirituality.
  3. Effectively communicate information within the field of Christian Spirituality to specialists and non-specialists alike, both orally and in writing.


Prerequisites for Admissions

A baccalaureate degree; 12 recent credits in: Old Testament, New Testament, Theological Ethics and some type of Contemporary Christian Theology; Share the spiritual goals of the program. In addition, Certificate candidates must be 30 years of age, have a history of two years of regular spiritual direction and currently receiving spiritual direction.

An 8-day silent retreat is required before beginning the second summer of Certificate study. It is recommended, but not required, that candidates complete an 8-day silent, directed retreat prior to entering the program.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must provide three letters of recommendation addressing their life of faith and prayer in addition to the usual credentials for admission to the Graduate School. It would be helpful to the admission committee if the applicant provided a short letter of introduction explaining their reasons for seeking the degree and or certificate. All materials should be sent to the Graduate School.

Degree in Christian Spirituality

Certificates offered through Christian Spirituality


CSP 660. Dreams and Spiritual Growth. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 660)

This course will explore the significance of dreams in discerning spiritual growth. Some attention will be given to the role of dreams in scripture and Christian tradition. The primary aim of the course is to familiarize participants with the psychology of dreaming and with contemporary methods for discerning the religious meaning of one's dreams: in one's own spiritual growth and development as well as in working with dreams in the context of spiritual direction.

CSP 661. T'ai Chi Chih: Joy Through Movement. 1 credit. SU (Same as THL 661)

T'ai Chi Chih's body movement meditation releases stress by relaxing the body and refreshing the mind. The twenty simple movements can be done by all regardless of age and physical condition.

CSP 663. Pastoral Approaches To Psychopathologies. 1-3 credits. SU

Overview of the more usual sorts of abnormal behaviors likely to be encountered in counseling sessions conducted by pastors and spiritual directors. Diagnosis, treatment techniques, referrals. Emphasis on cases presented by students and on practical modes of intervention. P: CSP 780 or equiv.

CSP 664. Spirituality of John. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 664)

Course examines themes from writings of John central for spirituality.

CSP 665. Prayer and Priestly Identity. 1-3 credits. SU

This course aims to form participants in a whole-hearted embracing of the distinctive spirituality of the diocesan priesthood as that relates to the unique identity of the diocesan priesthood, so as to help foster a more effective exercise of pastoral authority and charity in the service of the Church.

CSP 666. Centering Prayer And The Experiencing Of God. 1 credit. SU (Same as THL 666)

Contemplative practices such as Lectio Divina and centering Prayer, which directly cultivates the experience of God's presence and extend the interior silence of prayer into daily life. Additional topics include prayer as relationship, the experience of the Dark Night, and fruits of contemplative prayer in daily activity.

CSP 667. Contemplative Theological Reflection. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 667)

Through the development of the skill of contemplative theological reflection, CSP students learn to reflect on their personal and ministerial or work experiences to discern the call of transformation and integration in the midst of the Christian tradition and world realities. This is a personal and group process and takes place in a peer faith setting.

CSP 669. Salesian Spirituality. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 669)

Introduction to the Salesian spiritual tradition co-founded in the 17th century by Francis de Sales and Jane Chantal. Seminal texts such as the Introduction to the Devout Life and the lives of the founders will backdrop discussion of central Salesian themes as resources for contemporary living.

CSP 670. Art and Spirituality. 1-3 credits. OD, SU (Same as THL 670)

With an experiential, hands-on format using watercolor and other art media this course provides an opportunity for right-brain expressions of prayer, spiritual understanding, and experience of God.

CSP 671. Mindful Movement. 1 credit. SU

The integration of body, mind, and spirit is an essential tool for bringing awareness to the self and relationships both spiritual and emotional. As a component part of larger disciplines for spiritual growth and wellness, this course is designed to teach students the fundamental practices of prayerful moving meditation. Through these practices students will develop an understanding of how to integrate this tool into spiritual awareness and spiritual direction.

CSP 672. True Self/ False Self: The Enneagram and Spiritual Transformation. 1 credit. SU

Within the True Self./ False Self framework, the Enneagram will be appropriated as a vehicle for spiritual growth and transformation. Topics will also include the Enneagram in Discernment and Spiritual Direction.

CSP 673. Spiritual Dialogue: East Meets West. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 673)

Overview of perspectives and practices from Eastern wisdom that have parallels in Christianity and can deepen prayer experiences, as well as Eastern ideas that challenge Christian beliefs.

CSP 675. Spirituality of Luke-Acts. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 675)

Study of the spirituality implicit in Luke's two-volume masterpiece. Focus on God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, discipleship, possessions, community, mission, the Christian reading of the Hebrew Scriptures , and how narrative is a vehicle of theology and spirituality.

CSP 676. Giving 19th Annotation Retreats. 1 credit. SU

How to give retreats to people in everyday life according to Annotation 19 of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

CSP 677. Spirituality, Psychological Foundations, and Practice of Forgiveness. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 677)

The imperative to forgive is central to Christian identity, discipleship, and building authentic intimacy with God and others. This course explores spiritual, theological, and psychological perspectives on forgiveness. Through journaling, prayer, guided reading/reflection, and class discussion, students will be encouraged to develop, practice, and personally appropriate a spirituality of forgiveness.

CSP 678. The Spirituality of Paul. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 678)

A study of the Pauline correspondence to analyze what these letters imply regarding the gospel vision as a way of seeing that leads to a way of being. Special attention to Paul's Jewish background and his use of that tradition to explain Jesus as the climax of the covenant and his way as the fullness of human being; creation, community, cross, new creation.

CSP 679. BioSpiritual Focusing. 1-3 credits. SU

This course will explore, through experiential practice, lecture, and discussion, the dimension of felt meaning carried in the body that, attended to in a caring way, becomes a bridge to deeper understanding and growth in Christian spirituality.

CSP 680. Women and the Bible. 1-3 credits. (Same as THL 518, WGS 518)

Study of select biblical traditions that represent women and/or prescribe women's behavior, with attention to ancient gender constructs; the primary focus will be exploration of diverse women's readings of biblical texts and their implications for Christian spirituality.

CSP 690. Supervision For Spiritual Directors. 1-3 credits.

A workshop for spiritual directors who are interested in acquiring or improving the skills necessary to supervise others in this ministry.

CSP 691. Eco Spirituality. 1-3 credits. SU

This course explores emerging environmental spirituality within the broad Christian spiritual tradition. The course considers the Christian understanding of the relationship between humans and non-human nature. It also considers Christian practices that can be re-imagined to foster sustainable living.

CSP 698. Introduction to Writing for Spirituality. 1 credit.

Through a combination of group classes and individual appointments, the course provides a tutorial in graduate writing for Christian Spirituality. General stylistic concepts are taught and practiced on the students' assigned papers. Tools such as using writing partners, reading text aloud, developing a distinctive writing voice and other important elements of writing analysis, integration and synthesis essays will be introduced and practiced.

CSP 699. Writing for Spirituality. 1 credit.

A course for students which offers an opportunity for individual mentoring in the skills necessary to complete capstone essays in graduate-level English where emphasis is placed on writing that is the fruit of reflection on both academic study and personal appropriation.

CSP 702. The Gospel of Mark. 3 credits. OD, SU

In-depth study of the earliest gospel, using historical, literary and theological perspectives. Special attention to Mark's use of the Old Testament, his interpretation of Jesus and the Church, and the implications for using this text for Christian life and worship today.

CSP 715. Marian Spirituality. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 715)

This course will explore "Mary as mother and teacher of the spiritual life," e.g., Mary and the Holy Spirit, Mary's virtues, Mary as first disciple of the Lord, as Servant of the Lord, and as Model of the Church. This course likewise studies the various expressions of Mary's place in the universal call to holiness, e.g., the "Marian thread" in the lives of the Saints, with a special emphasis on the new Saints and Blesseds of Pope John Paul II.

CSP 716. Spirituality of Reconciliation: Global and Social Perspectives. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 716)

Explores biblical, sacramental, theological and spiritual dimensions of Christian reconciliation. Examines global case studies of Christian social reconciliation such as South Africa, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the American South. Students will be asked to develop a spirituality of social reconciliation for their own local Christian communities.

CSP 717. Jungian Psychology and Christian Spirituality. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 717)

This course will explore the relationship between major aspects of Jung's psychological theory and Christian Spirituality. The principal aim of the course is to familiarize participants with basic concepts of Jungian psychology and to assimilate what is most useful in Jung for pastoral practice, one's own spiritual life and development as well as spiritual direction. Some films and fairytales will be used to convey concepts.

CSP 718. A Theology and Spirituality of Conversion. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 718)

Freedom to respond to the grace of conversion into the likeness of the Son of God is the hallmark of Christian discipleship and the hoped for outcome of spiritual direction in general and the Spiritual Exercises in particular. To balance theory with practice we will examine Ignatius of Loyola's human and spiritual conversion. Students will apply course work to their personal growth and development so as to better prepare for the ministry of spiritual direction.

CSP 719. Catholic Devotions in a Global Context. 1-3 credits. SU

Theological, historical and practical consideration of the rich devotional traditions of the global Catholic Church. Attention given to the role devotions play in the spiritual life, the variety of cultural forms devotions take and preparation of the spiritual guide to discern the place of devotions in a directee's life.

CSP 720. Celtic Spirituality. 1-3 credits. SU

This course explores the wisdom of the Celtic Saints and their holistic approach to God, the earth, life, and others. Students will examine the principal characteristics of this early Christian spirituality as it found expression in the Carmina Gadelica and the lives of men and women shaped by Christianity's conduct with the culture of the Celtic people.

CSP 721. The Marian Dimension of Spiritual Direction. 1 credit. SU

What is Mary's place in Spiritual Direction? This course will explore Mary in the life the Spiritual Director and develop new awareness of her place in the contemplative method of Spiritual Direction.

CSP 722. Mary in the Life of St. Ignatius. 1 credit. SU (Same as THL 722)

This short course will explore Mary in the life of St. Ignatius by investigating his autobiography and other writings. It is written, "Ignatius dreamed of a lady who was for him the doorway of the graces he would receive throughout his life. He asked Mary to grant his greatest desire, "to deign to place him with her Son.

CSP 723. Creating a Preached Retreat. 1 credit. SU

This practical course is designed to help a prospective director create a preached retreat experience of two to three or more days based on the dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

CSP 760. Scriptural Foundation Of Christian Spirituality. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 760)

Introduction to Scripture, especially the New Testament, as the foundation to all Christian Spirituality. Faith, prayer, Holy Spirit, Church, centrality of Christ.

CSP 761. Liturgical Foundation Of Christian Spirituality. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 761)

An exploration of the Church's liturgical prayer life as an important basis and foundation for Christian Spirituality.

CSP 762. Doctrinal Foundation Of Christian Spirituality. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 762)

This course examines the foundational doctrines of faith, such as, the Trinity, the divine and human Jesus, salvation by Christ, God's activity in history, the Holy Spirit, and explores their relevance for the Christian spiritual journey, including the relationship to God, to all humanity and to the entire created universe.

CSP 763. Pilgrimage as Prayer. 3 credits.

A twelve day travel course or pilgrimage to the Ignatian "places" of northern Spain, Paris, and Rome, which incorporates the elements of personal prayer and reflection in the form of the Spiritual Exercises.

CSP 764. Prayer And Christian Spirituality. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 764)

Using classical and contemporary texts in Christian Spirituality, course studies the theology, methods, stages and dynamics of personal prayer and mysticism.

CSP 765. Prayer, Intimacy, And True Christian Growth. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 765)

The connection between spiritual and human growth, the necessity of keeping a relationship with Christ, and concrete simple ways of doing it each day.

CSP 766. Contemplation In The Christian Tradition. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 766)

Course examines approaches to contemplation in classical and contemporary texts. Among authors and texts studied are the following: Pseudo-Dionysius, Cloud of Unknowing, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross. P: CSP 764 or CSP 765 or equiv.

CSP 767. Spanish Mysticism. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 767)

Study of Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, discussing their spirituality, teachings on prayer, and understanding of human life as a pilgrimage with Jesus, ending only when total union with God is reached. P: CSP 764/THL 764 or CSP 765/THL 765 or equivalent.

CSP 768. History of Ignation Tradition. 3 credits.

This course covers intersection of world cultures and Ignatian vision of Jesuits from the 16th Century, its spread through missionary work, it's development through 5 centuries, suppression and restoration and renewal in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Emphasis on the mission of Education and the faith that does justice.

CSP 769. The History Of Christian Spirituality. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 769)

Development from post-apostolic age to the present. Some of the classics of Christian Spirituality.

CSP 770. Called To Holiness: The Christian Vocation. 1-3 credits. SU (Same as THL 770)

Saints, ways to sanctity, past and present. The Communion of Saints. NOTE: This course fulfills the requirement for a course in the History of Spirituality.

CSP 772. Vatican II and the Doctrinal Foundations of Contemporary Christian Spirituality. 3 credits.

This course examines the role and impact of the Second Vatican Council on the foundational doctrines of faith, such as, the role of Scripture, Theological Anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Pneumatology, and explores their relevance for the Christian spiritual journey.

CSP 773. The Theology Of The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 773)

Theology, interpretations, commentators, structure, with practical applications. Students will draw greater benefit from this course if they have a prior experience of the Spiritual Exercises either in an individually directed silent retreat or an extended retreat in daily life.

CSP 776. Discernment Of Spirits: Theory And Practice. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 776)

Study of the tradition of discernment in the Church with special emphasis on the rules for discernment of spirits in the Spiritual Exercises and the application of these to Christian life and practice.

CSP 777. Spirituality and Catholic Social Teaching. 3 credits.

The Catholic tradition insists that spirituality and social ethics are integrally related such that one is impoverished without deep connection with the other. lnformed by that insight, this course explores the relationships between Christian spirituality and Catholic Social Teaching. Texts include essays from leading theologians and documents from the magisterium. Topics include the relationship between spirituality and ethics, conscience, methods in Catholic social ethics, human life and dignity, preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, rights and responsibilities, common good and solidarity, economic justice, immigration, peace and war, and ecology and climate change.

CSP 778. Biblical Roots For Peace And Justice Ministry. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 778)

How to use Scripture responsibly in approaching the social and planetary issues of the third millennium. Sample topics: creation and ecology, violence and nonviolence, hunger and stewardship, conscience and civil authority, option for the poor. Opportunity for special issue study.

CSP 779. Spirituality And Social Concerns. 3 credits. SU (Same as THL 779)

Reflections on the practice of spiritual direction, retreat leadership, and other pastoral ministries in light of themes of justice, peace and solidarity in scripture, Christian history, Catholic social teaching, and human experience. Investigation of how the reality of social injustice affects the private and public dimensions of the spiritual life. Emphasis on personal appropriation and leadership development so that students may integrate knowledge that gain into the ministries.

CSP 780. Introduction to Counseling for Spiritual Directors. 3 credits. SU

Theory and practice of the dynamics of personal counseling. Analysis of the likenesses and differences between spiritual direction, spiritual counseling, pastoral counseling, and counseling. Helping methods based on Scripture and personality sciences. Practical acquisition of facilitating behaviors of understanding and listening.

CSP 781. Pre-Practicum In Spiritual Direction And Directed Retreats. 3 credits. SU

Preparation for work in spiritual direction and in giving directed retreats. Students must be receiving spiritual direction themselves for at least two years and also have made at least one eight-day directed retreat. P: CSP courses including CSP 773; CSP 780 or equiv.; and prior consent of Coordinator of Practica; P or CO: CSP 776.

CSP 782. Post-Practicum In Spiritual Direction And Directed Retreats. 3-4 credits. SU

Follows a year of receiving supervision in offering spiritual direction and giving directed retreats. A deepening of knowledge and skills needed to offer spiritual direction and directed retreats. P: CSP 781 and consent of Coordinator of Practica.

CSP 783. Spiritual Direction Within The Family System. 3 credits. SU

Course focuses on the spiritual aspects of who we are in light of the family we come from. Overview of how one integrates spirituality into one's family life. Topics include: The Implications of Family Stories; A Framework for Working With Family of Origin in Spiritual Direction; Family Loss From Resistance, Death, Anger.

CSP 784. The Twelve Steps And The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius. 1-3 credits. SU

Course examines the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous against the backdrops of the Spiritual Exercises. First half of class is an experience of meeting on one of the steps; second half is reflection on the step in light of the Spiritual Exercises.

CSP 785. Psychological Dynamics Of Spiritual Growth. 3 credits. OD, SU (Same as THL 785)

This course seeks to develop a comprehensive overview of contemporary authors who have developed perspectives on the interface between psychology and spirituality. Such authors will include: Merton, Nouwen, Rupp, and van Kaam.

CSP 786. Family Spirituality. 1-3 credits. OD, SU (Same as THL 786)

Designed for both those who are familied and those who minister to families. Key questions: What are the elements of a spirituality derived from within the experience of family? What is the relationship between such a spirituality and the classic traditions of Christian spirituality? How do the family ("the domestic church") and the wider church community serve, enrich and enable each other?.

CSP 787. Evangelization through Mercy. 3 credits.

By declaring a Jubilee of Year of Mercy, Pope Francis, like Prophet Micah and Our Lord Jesus Christ before him, has not only challenged Christians in particular and people of good will in general to come to a deeper intellectual appreciation of God as Compassionate, but also to strive to become as compassionate as God is (Micah 6:8; Luke 6:36), and to contribute toward building a more compassionate world. Toward these ends, this course will walk students through: the meaning of evangelization, mercy and spirituality; trends and paradigms in the practice of evangelization; biblical and theological bases of the mission of evangelization; the content; agents and audiences of the mission of evangelization; methods and means of evangelization; and contexts of evangelization. To facilitate a more practical engagement with the themes of the course, students will be challenged to both appropriate and/or come to clarify of a spirituality, and to adopt a paradigm/s of evangelization, demonstrating its/their use in contexts of evangelization of their choice.

CSP 789. Spirituality for Americans: Thomas Merton's Contemplative Vision. 3 credits. OD, SU (Same as THL 789)

The relevance of Merton for contemporary American spirituality. Merton in context of the American experience: his life, writing and thought as guidelines for living the Gospel today. Special attention to themes of True Self, Contemplation and Non-violence.

CSP 790. Spiritual Formation. 1-3 credits. OD (Same as THL 786)

The nature and dynamics of spiritual formation, emphasizing personal developmental aspects of spiritual growth. Practical aspects of the spiritual life: spiritual identity, spiritual consciousness, holistic spirituality. Theoretical perspective on formative relations in structured situations: religious formation, seminary formation, spiritual formation in parishes. Formation issues: spiritual growth through stages of the life cycle, sexuality and chastity, conflict and community, suffering and death, work and ministry.

CSP 791. Spirituality and Sexuality. 1-3 credits. OD, SU (Same as THL 791)

As body-persons, all men and women are called to integrate the various dimensions of our human existence within a thought out/lived out perspective, i.e., a spirituality. For various historical, cultural, and religious reasons incorporating our sexuality can be challenging, even problematic. Through lecture, guided reading/reflection, class discussion, and writing, students will be encouraged to develop their personally meaningful spirituality of sexuality.

CSP 793. Directed Independent Readings. 1-3 credits. OD, SU

To be arranged. P: DC and IC.

CSP 795. Directed Independent Study. 1-3 credits. OD, SU

To be arranged. P: DC and IC.

CSP 797. Directed Independent Research. 3 credits. OD, SU

To be arranged.