Intensive Training Program for those Interested in Spiritual Direction
Course Description and Goals:
This is the third group of students within our Introduction to the Practice of Spiritual Direction program. Our first week-long course is an introduction and overview of spiritual direction in the Christian tradition. It is intended to enhance the student’s understanding of the spiritual life, with attention given to beginning to develop the basic skills necessary for this ministry. Classes will involve role-plays, opportunities for students to experience the roles of director and directee, while given supportive feedback.
Course Learning Objectives:
At the end of the course, a student will be able to:
-Have a basic understanding of the spiritual life, its breadth, depth, and language, in order to understand the context of spiritual direction ministry.
-Examine and understand the core principles of effective spiritual direction, noting the implications for both the director and the directee
-Develop and practice the basic interpersonal skills necessary for the exercise of this ministry, such as active listening, self-disclosure, etc…
Required Texts :
Henri Nouwen. Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith. SanFrancisco: Harper Collins, 2006.
Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction (Cowley Publications, 1992)
Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle (any edition)
Required Paper : A 6 to 8 page review of and reflection on one of the following books, the student’s choice:
Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope :Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cowley Publications, 2001) ISBN: 1-56101-193-2; ISBN13: 978-1-56101-193-3
Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation (Oxford, 2006) ISBN-13: 978-0-19-530760-3
Nancy L. Bieber, Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way (Skylight Paths, 2012). ISBN: 978-1-59473-289-9
Class 1: Introduction
Overview of the course
What is the spiritual life?
What is spiritual direction?
Basic listening skills; what it means to be present to another
Class 2: Fundamentals of Spiritual Companionship
Spiritual direction as a specific kind of spiritual companionship
The skills of attending, companioning, and responding
Discussion of Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening
Class 3: Prayer
Prayer as a journey within: meditation, contemplation
(Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle will be referenced)
Class 4: Discernment
Discernment as a disposition of the heart
Criteria for discernment
Discussion of Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith.
Class 5: The Spiritual Life of the Spiritual Director
adopting a “Rule of Life”
Self-care for spiritual directors
The second week-long course in the program is scheduled in the spring, April 26 – May 1, 2020. Then, one additional week-long intensive, October 25-30, 2020 will complete the course of study. Registration for these two sessions will be available soon. A certificate of completion will be awarded upon completion of the entire program, which includes these three week-long sessions and the required course work.
Guided by Kathy Brown and Sr. Bernie Claps, CBS.
Kathleen Hope Brown, D.Min., teaches spiritual direction and other courses in spirituality at the Virginia Theological Union. Her doctorate in Adult Spiritual Formation is from Catholic University.
Sister Bernadette Claps, a Sister of Bon Secours, provides spiritual direction and spiritual companionship at the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours. She holds graduate certificates in Spiritual Direction, Spirituality and Aging. She has done graduate studies in theology and received a Master of Social Work from New York University.