The unit examines the human experience of God, incarnation, Kenosis, self-emptying love, God working through personal experience and consequent approaches to contemplation and contemplative prayer. The unit also examines the influence that the visual and narrative arts, images and imagination have on human and religious experience as well as the roles each of these play in the formation of spiritual directors. The unit addresses professional standards and integrity in ministry linked to students’ experience, guided by reference to Ethical Guidelines for Spiritual Directors such as Integrity in the Service of the Church, Integrity in Ministry, Towards Healing and the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Director’s Code of Ethics for Spiritual Directors.

Unit code: DD8704Y

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spiritual Direction

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Discuss various ways of expressing the human encounter with God through the utilisation of one’s reading, reflection and personal experience


Critically evaluate different traditions of spirituality and their methods of proclaiming the sacred immanent in human experience


Apply the knowledge referred to in 1. and 2. above in the practice of spiritual direction


Integrate professional standards and ethical guidelines into the practice of spiritual direction


Engage with those seeking information/direction relating to professional standards and be able to articulate those standards appropriately and professionally


Lectures, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

Readings for Human Experience of God

  • Barry, William A. Spiritual Direction and the Encounter with God: A Theological Inquiry. Rev. ed. New York: Paulist Press, 2004.
  • Burrows, Ruth. Guidelines for Mystical Prayer. London: Sheed and Ward, 1976.
  • Edwards, Denis. Human Experience of God. Sydney: Paulist Press, 1983.
  • Fiand, Barbara. From Religion Back to Faith–a Journey of the Heart. New York: Crossroads, 2006.
  • Keating, Thomas. The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2007.
  • Laird, Martin. Into the Silent Land. Oxford: OUP, 2006.
  • Rolheiser, Ronald. Seeking Spirituality–Guidelines for a Christian Spirituality for the 21st Century. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998.
  • Ulanov, Ann and Barry. Primary Speech: A Psychology of Prayer, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1982.
  • Valters, Paintner and Betsey Beckman. Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction. New York: Morehouse, 2010.
  • Williams, Monty. Stepping into Mystery: Four Approaches to a Spiritual Life. Toronto: Novalis, 2012.
  • Wolters, Clifton, trans. The Cloud of Unknowing. London: Penguin, 1978.

Readings for Professional Standards

  • Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction: Code of Ethics,, 2005.
  • Australian Catholic Bishops Conference & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes. Integrity in the Service of the Church. Canberra: ACBC, 2004.
  • Integrity in Ministry: A Resource Document of Principles and Standards for Lay Workers in the Catholic Church in Australia. Canberra: National Committee for Professional Standards, 2011.
  • Australian Catholic Bishops Conference & Catholic Religious Australia (National Committee for Professional Standards), Towards Healing, amended 2016,


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Either A 3000 word reflective essay that incorporates the student’s reading and personal experience, OR: 1) A 1500 word reflective essay as described above and 2) A multi-media project (equivalent to 1500 words and according to provided Guidelines) that encapsulates a human experience of the Divine.

3000 50.0

3000 word reflective essay on professional standards and ethical guidelines and how to integrate the principles imbedded in these standards and guidelines into the practice of spiritual direction.

3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-05-03 09:03:45 +1000