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Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is a voluntary relationship between a person who seeks to grow in the spiritual life and a director, according to the publication, Christianity Today. The director is like a mentor, coach, or personal trainer. But the issue here is not voice training, or physical fitness, but entry into and the exercise of the life of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Like scuba diving, which takes us to other depths and has us breathe another atmosphere, the atmosphere of the spiritual life is not bottled oxygen, but the grace of the Holy Spirit, which fits us for swimming in the mystery of God. And the spiritual director is our coach.

Spiritual direction is useful for its knowledge and experience. The director should know a thing or two about the ways of God with human beings. She or he may be formally schooled in the discipline of ascetical theology and spirituality, but does not have to be. Unlike the scuba diving coach, the spiritual director cannot provide the seeker with equipment and means. These come only from the Holy Spirit. Spiritual directors may advertise themselves, or more usually are identified by word of mouth. One who finds a true spiritual director will know it and thank God. Yet, we also have the example of St. Thérèse of Lisieux who never found one. She said hers was Jesus. God always finds the way.

There may be a fee or contribution involved for the time, certainly not for the effect. Ask at your parish for recommendations or consider finding a spiritual director through Spiritual Directors International. Spiritual direction is not therapy. It is highly personal, intimate and centered around prayer, noticing the movement of God in your life. You may have to "shop around" before finding a director that works for you.

A Catholic should be open to the spiritual direction that comes in the course of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and some people try to have a regular confessor for this purpose. Nevertheless, spiritual direction is a distinct spiritual art and gift from the sacrament of Reconciliation and ideally the two work together in the spiritual life of a person.

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