[quote="Exorcist, post:1, topic:289576"]
Is it considered OK within the Church to pay for spiritual direction? There are a group of women at my parish who have supposedly been trained by "Spiritual Directors International" who often have a notice in the parish bulletin. I suspect that "business is not good." The ad says:
"Companions or Spiritual Directors who have completed a period of formation are available for you. At XYX, we are blessed with people who are willing to walk with you on your faith journey."
I looked at some of the names and they didn't appear to be competent enough to teach RCIA.
We have four priests at my parish and two deacons. Seems like maybe they should be taking this on? At the very least the "formed" laity shouldn't be paying for the "service." Thoughts?
You are concerned that these spiritual director people might not be competent.
Well, you're right. They might not be competent.
Yet, think of this: Thousands of Catholics come to these very Forums and get answers from their fellow lay Catholics. If we are honest, virtually NONE of those giving answers on this Forum are competent to be teachers of the Faith in RCIA, or in a Catholic high school. Yet, this mass incompetence (including my own) doesn't stop people from coming here.
Yet, you raise the issue of payment. I agree with you that the requirement of payment "raises the stakes" and changes the picture.
Even so, one big reality is that there definitely are not enough priests and deacons to provide free, ongoing, in-depth spiritual direction to every Catholic who wants it. Many famous books say that a spiritual director is necessary to make progress. I know Cardinal Bona's book Guidance to Heaven says that, and I think Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis and Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales say that too. And when Catholics go on retreats and Marian conferences they are often advised to get a spiritual director when they go back home. But priests and deacons simply don't have time to do a lot of spiritual direction. Some aren't even sure how to do it, really.
Thus, it has become very common for lay people, and some nuns and monks, to get specific training in spiritual direction and to charge a fee for it. In a sense, they have a professional practice somewhat like a psychological counselor, except that the deal with spiritual matters.
The reality is that unless you are someone special, like a seminarian, or a U.S. senator, or niece of a bishop, you probably will not be able to get ongoing spiritual direction (for say, a matter of months or years). That means you'll have to pay for it.
So, you might end up paying for spiritual direction from someone who really isn't qualified, or even from someone who is a dissenter from some or many aspects of the teaching of the Church.
Nevertheless, despite all that, I, despite all my own incompetence to be your adviser, suggest that you try spiritual direction, if you can afford it. You must be feeling bad, or you won't be considering seeking spiritual help.
Even if the personal you are talking to and getting to know and who is getting to know you is kind of amateurish in spiritual matters, and even if they are a left-wing dissenter or right-wing dissenter from genuine Catholic teaching, they still might be helpful to you if they have "people smarts."
But I'd proceed with these guidelines:
(1) Only seek spiritual direction from someone who, upon meeting them, you feel comfortable with, and tend to like and respect. If the person seems weird or extremist, just get pretend that you just remembered that you left your stove on, and get out of their.
(2) Require that they give you a free trial session first. If they won't do that, then move on.
(3) Decide ahead of time how much you can afford for spiritual direction per month. Then, after the spiritual director reveals their fee, if it is more than you can afford per month, tell the person what you can afford, and stick to it. If that isn't enough for them, then move on.
By the way, this organization you mentioned, Spiritual Directors International, was founded by a Catholic nun. Of course, in this day and age, that is no assurance that what it does is approved by the pope or any bishop.