+44 (0)7742 150006 enquiries@aoa-edu.com





9am – 11am OR 7pm – 9pm (UK Time)

10am – 1pm OR 8pm – 10pm (Central European Time)

2pm – 4pm (USA East Coast Time)

11am – 1pm (USA Pacific Coast Time)


This programme is directed by Dr Denise Clare Oliver, Professor of Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, and invited Lecturer for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few
JESUS (Mt 7:13-14).

Meditating on these words of Jesus, St John of the Cross pondered what the narrow way might look like.  In his own theological formation, St John of the Cross (Doctor of the Universal Church) had studied diligently the Summa Theologiae of the great St Thomas Aquinas (Doctor of the Universal Church, Doctor of Doctors, and the Common Doctor).  This two-year programme focuses on the teaching of these two Doctors, along with the teaching of two other Doctors of the Church, St Teresa of Avila and St Therese of Lisieux.

Is there a normative path that every soul follows as it moves toward union with God?  What does the narrow way look like?  How can we recognize whether we are on it?  How can we help others to progress on this narrow way which leads to eternal life that our joy may be complete?  In this programme, we will unpack the teaching of these great Doctors of the Church in order to answer these questions.

This programme is designed to help Spiritual Directors and Fomators as well as teachers, parents, and parish workers.  It is a must for anyone who has ever been interested in spiritual theology and the path of prayer.

Join us in learning to understand the wisdom of these great Doctors, and to recognize the signs of true growth in holiness.


The Supernatural Organism, Grace, and the Virtues

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit


The Stages of Prayer and Spiritual Direction

The Dark Nights and Spiritual Direction

Course/Module: The Supernatural Organism, Grace and the Virtues

“Advancing toward union with God is a beautiful adventure, and certainly never boring.  Our whole life is a journey that can be so much greater if we invite the living God into our hearts; for there is no better travel than advancing towards God with a heart inflamed with love.  This journey is full of beauty, and the treasure that waits for us at the end is beyond compare … for ‘the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature.’  God gives us a wonderful gift when He gives us the gift of life; however, He gives us an even greater gift when He bestows on us the supernatural life …” [D.C. Oliver, Discerning your Spiritual Journey, 2013]

This course/module provides us with an overview of the graced human soul.  We will study the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas concerning the powers of the soul and the perfection of grace.  We will see the importance of authentic Christian anthropology; we will consider the infused virtues, and how growth in virtue is at the heart of our life of discipleship.

Course/Module: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

“The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification: enabling them to believe in God, to hope in Him, and to love Him through the theological virtues; giving them power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” [D.C. Oliver, Discerning your Spiritual Journey, 2013.]

This course/module focuses on the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit.  We will learn how to identify the action of these gifts – the action of the Holy Spirit – in our lives.  We will learn about the difference between the gifts and the charisms.  We will see the reasons why these gifts are necessary for salvation, and how we can  be better disposed to cooperate with the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Course/Module: The Stages of Prayer and Spiritual Direction

“Sometimes a soul hinders the blessing that God wants to give through this gift of infused contemplation because it does not understand what is happening. When God wants to bless a soul with this type of prayer, He is giving a great gift. Unfortunately many souls who arrive at this stage do not advance any further in the spiritual life. The experience of infused contemplation is very different from the more discursive form of prayer to which the soul has been accustomed. It is not always easy for us to recognise that God is blessing us with this type of prayer. Consequently, we may try to continue with our usual more active forms of prayer…”  [D. C. Oliver, Discerning your Spiritual Journey, 2013.]

In this course/module, we will learn about the various stages of prayer, the stages of the spiritual life. We will consider the distinction between ascetical and mystical prayer; the distinction between active prayer and passive prayer, as well as the transition from one to the other.  We will learn to recognise the signs of true growth in holiness; and we will consider important principles of spiritual direction.

Course/Module: The Dark Nights and Spiritual Direction

“God is like a wise physician. He knows exactly what a soul needs at each moment. Sometimes He gives favours, lights, and consolations; at other times, He hides Himself. When God hides His face, it seems to the soul that He is nowhere to be found. In Catholic Tradition, this has been called by different names—Fr Avila calls this a trial of faith, while St John of the Cross refers to it as ‘the dark night’. When God hides His face and does not answer when we call, it can cause great interior suffering and we are tried in our ‘confidence, love and patience’… The soul who experiences this kind of darkness has not been abandoned by God; He is very close …”  [D. C. Oliver, Discerning your Spiritual Journey, 2013.]

In this course/module, we will learn to recognise the great blessings God is giving to the soul in and through the gift of infused contemplation. We will learn about the Dark Nights (St John of the Cross) – what they are and how to recognize the signs. We will consider the purifications the soul must endure in order to arrive at perfect union with Jesus, the Beloved.

Enjoy the Interactive Lectures and Discussions from your own home

Real-time Participation & Regular Feedback from your Academic Tutor

Dr Denise Clare Oliver and Dr Christina Pal lead the teaching team for this programme.  Prior to joining the Academy of the Annunciation (AoA), Dr Oliver was a professor of Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, an invited lecturer for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and Director of Theology at the School of the Annunciation.  Dr Christina Pal has a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.  Prior to joining the AoA, Dr Pal was an adjunct professor for the Augustine Institute and for Christendeom College’s Rome programme, and she was the Senior Academic Tutor for the School of the Annunciation at Buckfast Abbey.

The Structure of the Programme

The programme is comprised of four courses (or modules) two of which will be completed during each of the two academic years.

Each week during the three terms of the academic year, you enjoy a 2 hour session of lecture and discussion. In addition, you have brief reading assignments to complete each week and each month there are short exercises associated with the reading assignments and lectures.  These formative activities form 10% of the final grade for the module.

There are two assignments for each module; together, these form 90% of the mark for the module.  The short formative activities, together with feedback from the Academic Tutor, help students in their preparation for the graded assignments.

The purpose of the assignments and assessments is to help students to internalise and appropriate the material being presented in the lectures and discussions.

Your exercises and assignments are submitted on our Veritas@AoA learning management system (run on the Moodle platform).

Studying for Personal Enrichment only

The Academy of the Annunciation welcomes students to attend our courses for personal enrichment, but without the pressure of assignments and assessments for a certificate or diploma.  Once you have registered for the course, please send an email to the Academic Tutor indicating that you wish to study for personal enrichment and will not be completing the assignments or assessments for a certificate or diploma. you can reverse this decision during the first month of the programme, if your experience leads you to choose to do the assignments and assessments for a certificate or diploma.

You can email the Academic Tutor at christina@aoa-edu.com

How it works

Once you have registered, you will receive an email on the evening before each lecture/discussion session, with the link for the next day’s session.

On the first day of the programme, there will be an option test meeting 30 minutes before the start of the session – for anyone who wishes to practice clicking the link and making sure they can see and hear without any problems.  At the time of the session, to “enter the meeting room”, you simply click the link in your email, follow the directions, and you are in!  There is no need for any app or any advanced computer or technical skill.

Real-time Interactive Participation

Once you are in the “meeting room”, you can see and hear everything.  To ask questions, or participate in the discussion, you simply un-mute your microphone (or you can opt to just listen).  We prefer everyone’s web-cam to be turned on, so that we’re all visible to each other, but you can opt to turn off your web-cam.  You can ask questions, contribute to the discussion and participate just as you would if you were onsite – all form the comfort of your own home

In Case You Miss a Lecture

As with any discipline, a certain time commitment is necessary in order to learn effectively.  Nevertheless, we understand that there will be times when you might be unable to attend a lecture. When this happens, you can contact your Academic Tutor as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made for you to learn the material covered in the lecture you missed.  Your tutor will provide you with the resources necessary, so that you do not have major gaps in your learning.

The Cost

The tuition cost for each year of the programme, including all the help you will receive from your personal academic tutor, is £998 (if you pre-pay all at once).

If you prefer to pay on a monthly basis, it is £120 per month (pre-paid at least one week before the first session of the month).

The Academy Trustees have established a small bursary fund to help those who cannot afford the full course fee.  If you would like more information please CLICK HERE.

Join Us Now!

Deepen your understanding of Catholic Spiritual Theology through live lectures (via video-conferencing) with inter-active discussion and real-time participation, all from the comfort of your own home, and meet fellow disciples from all over the world!

Places are limited.  Please register as soon as possible to ensure you have a reserved place.

For further information on this course

Pay Course Fees Online

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