The Baron, his niece and friends : Friedrich von Hügel as a spiritual director, 1915-1925
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While the practice of spiritual direction is widespread and increasingly popular, there has been relatively little research on the practices of those perceived to be exemplary spiritual directors. The primary focus of this dissertation is Baron Friedrich von Hügel's spiritual direction of Gwendolen Greene, during the final decade of his life (1915-1925). It also analyses his direction of nine other individuals during this same period, enabling one to recognise and evaluate recurring trends in von Hügel's approach to spiritual nurture. The key to the interpretation of von Hügel's approach is his conception of the 'Three Elements of Religion,' the Mystical, Intellectual and Institutional Elements. The thesis illustrates through analysis of von Hügel's correspondence and diaries the extent to which these shape his whole approach to spiritual direction. The research is archival, focusing on von Hügel's letters of spiritual direction and his personal diaries. The methodology is critical historical research, based on a close reading and assessment of the materials available. To this end, a great deal of original material is unearthed and discussed for the purposes of articulating and evaluating the nature of von Hügel's role as a spiritual director. The findings of this investigation indicate strengths and weaknesses in von Hügel's approach to spiritual direction. His primary contribution is his articulation and utilisation of the 'Three Elements of Religion.' These provide a balanced and holistic approach to spiritual direction. The primary weaknesses in his approach to spiritual direction are evident when he succumbs to values more indicative of the age in which he lived, than of the essence of the Christian tradition.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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