Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Spiritual Direction: the Not-so-Hidden Treasure of the Catholic Laity

At least I hope it isn't so hidden anymore.

about 10 years ago when I began my first Spiritual Direction relationship it wasn't all that common for lay-women or lay-men to seek spiritual direction on a regular basis. It might have been going on then, but it really was a hidden treasure back then. Religious sisters and brothers and the ordained clergy had been using direction as a spiritual tool for centuries (heck probably millennia) but lay people didn't know much about the necessity of it or how to go about getting a director.

I don't know what I would do without spiritual direction. My monthly appointment is just as important to me as visits to the doctor, or dentist, or my weekly attendance at mass or my daily prayer time. I have written about Direction a couple of times in the past:

here

here

and here and here too

I had a direction appointment today. As I was filling Fr. in on what my life has been like since the last time we met (before I started the two Philosophy Classes) and my frustrations at the studying and how most of my prayer time has been consumed by begging for help to get through, and my other frustration that I didn't seem to be capable of getting much of the other self-improvement issues I had decided I wanted to work on begun this summer, etc.

At this point he stopped me and gently reminded me that I needed to stop a moment and set some priorities. I am a wife/mother caregiver for my mom and student first, and maybe, just maybe for this summer those things need to take my full attention. Whatever I had decided I wanted to do or become could certainly wait a month or so when I don't find myself buried under a mountain of homework. Maybe those things are enough for now.

He sent me home thinking about that, and gave me something to meditate on between today and the next time we meet next month.

I am so blessed. We laugh, he listens to what I say and makes me listen to myself so that I don't stress out. He is a wonderful "soul friend" and companion on my spiritual journey.

I would suggest that if you don't have a spiritual director, and would like one seek one out. If you know a priest or religious in your area that you think would make a good fit for you, ask. If you haven't got a clue where to look, you might start by calling the Chancery at your Diocese, or the nearest Monastery or Convent.

I know that I will continue to seek direction. Without it my spirit is burdened and sometimes lost.

Pax

8 comments:

Suzanne said...

Whoever he is...he sounds wonderful.
Mine doesn't know he is just that...a spiritual director...it is because he doesn't want to formally be one.
However, he helps me and doesn't even realize what I'm trying to get out of him...it might ruin things if I press and bother him with specifics like that. Anyway, I'm very happy for you!
Suz

angelmeg said...

I think I know who you are talking about and last time I asked (about 11 years ago, he didn't believe in "spiritual direction" so you are probably right.

It is probably a good thing he doesn't realize he is doing it then, him not believing in it and all.

Suzanne said...

Oh, yeah! Its true...if I asked outright...a wall would come up. I honestly don't think it would "bother" him at this point because he has helped me alot...answers to this, comments to that, helpful hints, etc., but if he agreed then he'd have to be open to others in case I blew the whistle! Another thing is I don't believe he likes timed out things too well..eg. scheduled confessions, so appts. on a "regular" basis bug him...it seems that he prefers the spontaneous or the seeking of help when one is strongly in need of it so that they will be make use of what he has to offer then...not fiddle around. I've come to this conclusion after just watching his many different reactions to things.
Last night he attended the seminarian's talk..you know the one? Unheard of him to show up at anything on the side like that, but this is a big topic of interest to him...since 9/11, I 've noticed, so in some ways it was not a surprise totally to see him present at this talk. He is a character!

Ebeth said...

angelmeg,

You are very fortunate to have a SD. I have been looking for one for YEARS! No priest, DRE, nun, or diocese employee knows of any here in the Raleigh diocese of NC. I am needing one very badly to help me discern my vocation as a master catechist.

Anyway, glad to hear you have a great respect for having SD and noting that we all need this!
Ebeth
Climbing in search for my own SD!

Suzanne said...

Maybe ebeth could find an email Spiritual Director, angelmeg?
Maybe you could help her that way.
That would be tough to need one so badly and not be able to find one.
me

Nick said...

Hi everyone. I'm a member of Spiritual Directors International. If you are having trouble finding a spiritual director in your area, you might try searching the Seek and Find Guide ("Seek and Find: A Worldwide Resource Guide of Available Spiritual Directors") on the Spiritual Directors International Web site. www.sdiworld.org. It's free.

Adoro te Devote said...

So far I have not been blessed with an SD, even though I have actively asked a couple people. It's in God's hands.

Last week in Adoration I brought it up with Jesus, and you know that way he has of speaking, so quietly, without words and yet we can understand him with words because the Holy Spirit translates?

Well, he indicated to me that I'm "not ready". Maybe I'm such a critical case that he won't trust me to anyone else, and maybe he's right.

All in God's time. All in God's conditions, not mine.

angelmeg said...

It is good that you listen so intently. When the time is right you will be led to where God wants you to go. I have had times when I was without a spiritual director for a time and in that time it was important for me to be without, but then I was led to the new director in God's time, not mine, because my inclination would be to never be without one.