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THSP506 Spiritual Exercises Praxis A and THSP507 Spiritual Exercises Praxis B



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 and Spiritual Direction should be able to critically articulate the interrelationships between their spiritual development and their personal and professional roles, as well as developing knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the discipline. In this unit, students acquire the skills and competencies needed to become directors of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and spiritual directors in the Ignatian tradition. Under supervision, the student will guide two retreatants through the full one-month (30-day) experience. In this context supervision of the student’s activities will occur on a daily basis. The aim of the unit is to form students to be competent and confident givers of the Spiritual Exercises.

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 role and stance of an Ignatian director, particularly as set out by Saint Ignatius in the Annotations to the Spiritual Exercises (GA1);

LO2 Evaluate personal capacity to adapt the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises to particular retreatants (GA1; GA7);

LO3 Analyse the Rules for Discernment of Spirits and identify the ways in which ‘spirits’ work in a retreatant (GA4); 

LO4 Articulate and evaluate the decision-making process outlined in the Spiritual Exercises (GA4);

LO5 Evaluate their gifts, abilities and limitations as a giver of the Spiritual Exercises (GA4).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


Topics will include:

·       Giving the Spiritual Exercises (19th Annotation – spiritual direction 1 hour a week for 35 weeks; or, 20th Annotation – spiritual direction 1 hour per day for 30 days);

·       Giving the Spiritual Exercises under supervision;

·       Recording the experience of giving the Spiritual Exercises.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP627 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 the practice of spiritual direction, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Task: Satisfactory demonstration of the ability to provide spiritual direction according to the method, purpose, rhythm and dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises.

0% (Pass/Fail)

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA7

25-minute presentation to peers (equiv. to 3000 words) of the experience of giving the Spiritual Exercises. This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to reflect critically on their experience.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA7

Directory on giving the Spiritual Exercises under supervision (3000-words). This task is designed to provide students with the opportunity to consolidate their learning through the integration of theory with their own experience and practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA7

Representative texts and references

Barry, William. Letting God Come Close: An Approach to the Spiritual Exercises. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Press, 2001.

Buckley, Suzanne (ed). Sacred is the Call. New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2005.

Bumpus, Mary Rose, and Rebecca Bradburn-Langer. Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery. New York, NY: Morehouse, 2005.

Conroy, Maureen. Looking into the Well: Supervision of Spiritual Directors. Chicago: Loyola Press, 1995.

Dyckman, Katherine, et al. The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Manwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001.

Fleming, David L. Draw Me into your Friendship: The Spiritual Exercises. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

Green, Thomas. Weeds Among the Wheat: Discernment: Where Prayer and Action Meet. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1990.

Schemel, George, and Judith Roemer. Beyond Individuation to Discipleship. Scranton, PA: Institute for Contemporary Spirituality, University of Scranton, 2000.

Tetlow, Joseph. Choosing Christ in the World: Directing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2000.

Toner, Jules. A Commentary on Saint Ignatius' Rules for the Discernment of Spirits: A Guide to the Principles and Practice. St. Louis, MO: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1982.

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