Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, which reflects the standard volume of learning for a unit in a University qualification of this Australian Qualifications Framework type.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates of programs in Ignatian Spirituality should develop knowledge and skills in this discipline and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their various roles. When an exercitant prays over a Gospel passage in making the Spiritual Exercises, he or she enters that scene as a participant. In this unit, students explore the Gospels in order to foster the role of the imagination in prayer as outlined by Saint Ignatius. The unit will give attention to early influences leading Ignatius to employ imaginative prayer with the Gospel narratives within the Spiritual Exercises. It will explore the psychology of the human imagination and its relevance to the practice of prayer in life, work and ministry. The aim of this unit is to enable participants to experience and reflect critically on the role of the imagination in Ignatian prayer.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Outline the basic psychology of human imagining and its value for prayer (GA5);

LO2 - Describe the influence of Ludolph of Saxony’s practice of imaginative contemplation upon Ignatius of Loyola and his subsequent writing of the Spiritual Exercises (GA8);

LO3 - Articulate the structure and subject outlines of the four Gospels and their particular use of symbols and images (GA8);

LO4 - Identify and develop skills in using imaginative prayer that enhances the ministry practice of spiritual directors (GA5).

Graduate attributes

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

·      The canonical Gospels: genre, structure, socio-historical context and theological emphases;

·      The cultural and social situation of the Mediterranean world in New Testament times;

·      Ludolph of Saxony’s practice of imaginative contemplation;

·      Ignatius’ use of imaginative prayer with the Gospel narratives within the Spiritual Exercises;

·      The psychology of the human imagination.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, which reflects the standard volume of learning for a unit in a University qualification of this Australian Qualifications Framework type.

THSP605 will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in various combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments, utilising strategies which may include:

·       Self-directed activities (such as completing scaffolded reading tasks or web-based exercises) which enable each student to build a detailed understanding of a topic;

·       Small-group tasks and activities (such as contributing to discussion forums or undertaking peer review) which enable students to test, critique, expand and evaluate their understandings;

·       Plenary seminars and webinars which enable students to link their understandings with larger frameworks of knowledge and alternative interpretations of ideas;

·       Practical or fieldwork activities which enable students to rehearse skills necessary to the discipline and to be mentored in that practice;

·       Critically reflective activities (such as a guided Examen or private journal-writing) which assist students to learn reflexively, that is, to identify their affective responses to the learning and to integrate their learning with action.

The unit is delivered with the expectation that participants are adult learners, intrinsically motivated and prepared to reflect critically on issues as well as on their own learning and perspectives.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. All assessment tasks are designed for students to show their achievement of each learning outcome and graduate attribute. They require students to demonstrate the nexus between their learning, dispositions, and spiritual practice, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1. Critical reflection (2500-words) on the experience of imaginative prayer as it is practised over the course of the semester, based on extensive journal notes. This task is designed to support the development of skills in the practice of imaginative prayer and the phenomenological review of prayer.




2. Essay (3500-words) on Ignatius’ use of the Gospels in imaginative prayer. This task is designed to enable students to integrate their understanding of the historical and spiritual material of the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Barry, William A. Allowing the Creator to Deal with the Creature: An Approach to the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.

Coleman, Gerald. Walking With Inigo: A Commentary on the Autobiography of St. Ignatius. Gujurat: Anand Press, 2001.

de Waal, Esther. The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2003.

Fischer, Kathleen. The Inner Rainbow: The Imagination In Christian Life. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1983.

Fleming, David. Draw me into your Friendship: The Spiritual Exercises. St. Louis, IL: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

Hansen, Michael. The Gospels for Prayer. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2003.

Lyons, Anthony. Imagine Believing: Explorations in Contemporary Faith. Melbourne, VIC: David Lovell Publications, 2003.

Painter, Christine, and Betsy Beckman. Awakening The Creative Spirit: Bringing The Arts To Spiritual Direction. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2010.

Silf, Margaret. Compass Points: Meeting God Every Day At Every Turn. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 2011.

Thibodeaux, Mark E. Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2015.

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