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Spiritual direction is the heartbeat of all ministries—not
just one more thing to add to your hectic schedule. And because of that, you inspire
me to do what I am doing: studying to become a spiritual director.
I have written articles for CATECHIST to help you be a more informed and better-prepared catechist. However, this article is different. This article offers insight for your spiritual formation rather than support for next week’s lesson.
I can imagine you sitting across from me in a spiritual direction session, sharing your story. As you do, I am touched with the depth of your faith.
To help you consider spiritual direction, I will describe what spiritual direction is, how to enter the experience of spiritual direction, and how to find a spiritual director with whom you can share your journey of faith.
What is Spiritual Direction?
The best way to describe “spiritual direction” is to explain what spiritual directors do. One of my community sisters trained in the art of cooking once told me that salt draws out flavor rather than adds flavor. We can apply that idea to what spiritual directors do. They listen to your faith story in a way that helps draw out the best in your relationship with God.
A spiritual director also listens to you to better understand how you pray, the reason you pray, and how prayer impacts your life. A director listens to you share about events in your life and helps you draw out how they influence your prayer, even if it is as seemingly ordinary as gardening.
Finding a Spiritual Director
One way to find a spiritual director is simply to ask. If you have friends or relatives who are in spiritual direction, ask them if they know someone who would consider being your spiritual director.
Also, call your parish office or the chancery office of your diocese. If there are religious communities, houses of prayer, or retreat centers in your diocese, call them as well. You have a good chance of finding someone available.
Should these suggestions offer no satisfying results, go to Spiritual Directors International’s website (sdiworld.org) and click on Find a Spiritual Director.
Beginning Spiritual Direction
You have arranged for your first appointment. Now what? Your first meeting will be a get-to-know-you experience, with each of you asking questions of the other.
The director will ask why you are seeking spiritual direction at this time in your life. He or she will want to know some of your spiritual background. This will give you a chance to share how you would like to grow in your relationship with God.
After several meetings, the director may ask “How is this (spiritual direction) going for you?” Take this opportunity to discuss ways that could help improve your spiritual direction experience.
Is This Director Right for You?
Not all directors are created equal. After several sessions with a director, ask yourself a few questions about how well you think the two of you are relating. Here are some sample questions to consider.
Am I comfortable with this person?
Do our meetings focus on faith, especially my own faith? (Note the emphasis is on faith; a spiritual director is not a counselor.)
Do I sense that I can trust this person?
Is the atmosphere where we meet prayerful?
Do I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit during our meetings?
If you find that you are not comfortable with the director, know that it’s acceptable to seek out another.
It is a spiritual director’s sacred call to help you discover God in all things. So think and pray about your opportunities for spiritual direction. And may you experience God’s presence in whatever decision you make.
Sister Lou Ella is engaged in studies and formation to be a spiritual director. She has a master’s degree in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. For over 17 years, she has taught at all levels and has served as a part-time librarian.