Spiritual Guidance

TC 823 Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition

Dr. Claire Wolfteich

·  Seeking to explore and deepen your gifts for spiritual guidance and companionship?
·  Interested to learn more about classic texts in spiritual direction and spiritual friendship within the Christian tradition?
·  Curious to dialogue with contemporary spiritual directors, pastors, and teachers about the ministry of spiritual guidance?

In this course we will explore diverse models of spiritual guidance within the Christian tradition, delving into primary and secondary source texts in both classical and contemporary literature in the field. We will read the pithy sayings of the early desert abbas and ammas, the imaginative Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, the gentle counsel of Francis de Sales, the spiritual teaching of John Wesley and his mother Susanna, and the insights of the Russian pilgrim who wanted to pray without ceasing. We will explore the theological beliefs reflected in these writings as we place them in their historical contexts. The course will highlight the importance of critical theological reflection as a part of the formation and ongoing nurture of spiritual guides. Throughout the course we will look at contemporary practices of spiritual guidance, addressing concerns such as cross-cultural spiritual guidance, women’s spirituality, social analysis and spiritual guidance, psychology and spiritual direction, and prayer. Over the course of the semester, students will discern their own gifts for spiritual guidance and gain practice in this ministry. The course will include attention to group spiritual direction and students will gain practice in group spiritual companioning. Students also will have the opportunity to participate in dialogue with spiritual formation leaders from three different contexts: congregations, spirituality/retreat centers, and centers of theological education. The class will participate in a series of colloquia with spiritual leaders from each of these contexts.