Academic Programs 


The Art of Spiritual Direction (WS-625) 
Summer 2006

This course explores the ministry and dynamics of spiritual direction. Topics include the history and scope of spiritual direction, especially within the Christian tradition, the theological foundations, and the variety of expressions of spiritual direction within the personal, interpersonal, and social contexts.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
This course will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the following dates: May 30, June 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, and 22 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 10

Cathleen Murtha
Adjunct Professor in Arts of Ministry and Director, Spiritual Life Center, Bloomfield, CT

Contact Information:
(860) 243-2374

Course Syllabus

Course Description:

This course will explore the ministry and dynamics of the practice of spiritual direction.  Topics will include the history and foundations of spiritual direction as commonly practiced within the Christian Tradition.  Resources and experiences will be drawn from a wide variety of experiences and traditions, which transcend any one time or place.  The context of the spiritual journey which is the focus of spiritual direction will be discussed within the framework of one’s relationships with self, others, the world, the environment and the structures of one’s culture.  The Saturday session on June 10th will be held at the Spiritual Life Center in Bloomfield and will include an in-depth experience of group spiritual direction and reflection on that experience.

Aims of the Course:

  1. to become familiar with the ancient tradition of spiritual direction
  2. to explore the contemporary manifestations of this practice
  3. to engage in some disciplines and experiences that support and flow from the engagement  in spiritual direction
  4. to develop with the class community practical possibilities of developing the art of spiritual direction within one’s life and context

Course Requirements:

1. Engage actively and creatively in small and large group discussions on class topics

2. Participate in reflective and integrative dialogue on the personal and communal implications of the material presented

3. Submit two short reflection papers (average 3-4 pages) – Due Date: July 15th

    1. Personal – as you reflect on the course material and activities, what challenged, consoled, energized, intrigued, stimulated and/or provoked you in your own spiritual journey?
    2. Pastoral – as you reflect on your pastoral/service situation, how are you being invited to cooperate with God in the transformation of the world?  How will you utilize the materials and experiences of this course in responding to that invitation?

4. Research and submit a longer paper (average 12 pages) - Due Date: August 15th
on the subject of a spiritual biography including:

      1. reading and reflecting on the life and spiritual journey of an historical person
      2. articulating on how that person’s life experience amplified the topics and material of the course with particular attention to the Five Stages of the Soul
      3. explicating the influence of the person in the biography to her/his time and place

Course Assessment
Short Reflection Papers            -         20 points
Longer Research Paper             -        50 points
Engagement in class activities  -         20 points
Attendance and Participation    -        10 points

Grading Scale (variations of + and – for letter grades)
            90 – 100%       A                     60 – 74%        C
            74 – 89%         B                     below 60%      F

Required Readings:

Harry Moody and David Carroll, The Five Stages of the Soul
W. Paul Jones, The Art of Spiritual Direction
Norvene Vest, Tending the Holy

Recommended Readings:
Howard Addison, Show Me Your Way
Kathleen Fischer, Women at the Well
Margaret Geunther, Holy Listening
Margaret Silf, Inner Compass
Norvene Vest, Still Listening

Additional articles from Presence, the journal of Spiritual Directors International will be available.

Due to the nature of this course and the time crunch of the summer session, prior reading will be helpful.  My suggestion is to begin with the book, The Five Stages of the Soul.


Tuesday, May 30       The Art and Context of Spiritual Direction
Readings: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Chapter 1 – Spiritual Direction: Its Types, Purposes and Types, pp. 1-40
*Tending The Holy, Chapter 5 – How Ignatius Would Tend the Holy, pp. 61-77

Thursday, June 1      Dynamics of the Spiritual Life

Readings: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Chapter 2 – Spiritual Diversity, pp. 41-64
*Tending the Holy, Chapter 7 – Freedom to Souls, pp. 98-113

Tuesday, June 6        The Call

Readings: The Five Stages of the Soul, Chapter 2 – Hearing the Call, pp. 41-80
Chapter 3 – Answering the Call, pp. 81-126

Thursday, June 8      The Search

Readings: The Five Stages of the Soul, Chapter 4 – Beginning the Search, pp. 127-171

Saturday, June 10   Retreat Day – 9:00am – 4:00pm   Group Spiritual Direction

Readings: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Chapter 3 – Communal Spiritual Direction, pp. 65-96
Tending the Holy *Chapter 1 – Making a Cup of Tea, pp. 3-18
                          *Chapter 2 – The Sufi Path to Guidance, pp. 19-31        
                          *Chapter 6 – From a Graceful Center, pp.78-97
                         *Chapter 12 – In the Image of Godde, pp. 186-203        

Tuesday, June 13      The Struggle

Readings: The Five Stages of the Soul, Chapter 5 – Learning to Let Go, pp. 175-226
Chapter 6 - The Struggle and Spiritual Practice, pp. 227-265
*The Art of Spiritual Direction – Chapter 5: Dimensions, Exercises and Resources for Spiritual Direction, pp. 137 – 192

Thursday, June 15    The Breakthrough

Readings: Five Stages of the Soul, Chapter 7 – Breakthrough, pp. 269-309
*Tending the Holy, Chapter 4 – The Place on which You Stand is Holy Ground, pp. 45-58

Tuesday, June 20      The Return

Readings: Five Stages of the Soul, Chapter 8 – pp. 310-353
*Tending the Holy, Chapter 9 – The Spirituality of Nature and the Poor, pp. 131-147
* Still Listening, Chapter 9 – Let the Oppressed Go Free, pp. 121-133

Thursday, June 22    Integrating Spiritual Direction and Life

*Tending the Holy, Chapter 10 – Transforming Institutions, pp. 148–169
                            Chapter 11 – The Care and Feeding of Gen-X, pp. 170-185
 *Still Listening, Chapter 12 – Flesh is More than Flesh, pp. 171-182


*AND any of the other chapters from this compilation that peaks your interest. 

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500