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.