Ask Father: What is spiritual direction?

The practice of spiritual direction has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. It was first practiced by the Desert Fathers as early as the 3rd Century. While for much of its history, priests, monks, and religious sisters were the normal recipients of spiritual direction; the modern use of it has extended to all the faithful. Before laying out how to find a spiritual director, it is important to know what it is and why it is important. Spiritual direction is the practice of assisting a person to help them understand them self and, with divine grace, to grow in the practice of Christian virtue.

Spiritual direction allows a person more time to discuss their life than is possible in the Sacrament of Confession. While the practice has often been tied to Confession, a spiritual director does not necessarily have to be a priest or one’s regular confessor. The person should be a qualified man or woman, who has been recommended by the Church. It is very important to prayerfully and prudently consider when and with whom one enters into a spiritual direction relationship.

If one feels that God is calling them to pursue finding a spiritual director, the first step is to meet with the Pastor. This is important for a two reasons. First, by discussing one’s particular circumstances, the Pastor can better understand the spiritual needs the person wants to address. This helps the Pastor determine a good director for the particular person or if he can take on the person himself. The second reason is that it is important to determine if one wants a male or female director. Many men prefer a male spiritual director and women prefer a female director, but this is not always the case. The goal either way is to find someone that you feel comfortable enough with to share and trust your personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This is a heavy responsibility for both parties.

The intimate relationship formed in spiritual direction must never be taken lightly. That is why it is important to discern both in prayer and with the Pastor how to pursue direction. This is also why it is important to continue to discern whether or not the relationship is working once spiritual direction has begun. If you have an interest in spiritual direction, please contact the rectory and Father Romans will be happy to help you begin this journey.

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