Hello CilladeRoma - you wrote “And what is so bad with people going to school to learn how to help people on their spiritual journeys?” I would answer that depends on the school and the teacher, in this crucial sense:
- Spiritual direction is not merely a natural act, requiring merely natural knowledge, skills and abilities.
- Spiritual direction is essentially, crucially a supernatural act, requiring primarily supernatural gifts including supernatural knowledge, counsel, wisdom, charity, and mercy.
- IF one possesses and lives according to the supernatural virtues and gifts (gifts that only God can give), one has what is of necessity. The natural talents - which can be acquired and polished and expanded by natural means, through human helps/teachers - are helpful to those having first of all what is essential: spiritual experience and divine wisdom.
Spiritual direction is not merely “counseling in a religious context using religious language and subject matter.” Spiritual direction has a motive, end, purpose and subject entirely different from the psychological, cultural, developmental human characteristics that humanistic counseling deals with. The difference here is the radical difference between the natural and the supernatural, and natural means cannot attain supernatural ends.
What is most needed, in a word, in a spiritual director is spiritual maturity. This does not mean an old Catholic - it means a Catholic mature in the faith. A man can be 75 years old, a Catholic all his life, and still be a long way from mature in the faith! Maturity in the faith is not learned in schools, it is gained under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in time, by a disciple of great abandonment to the Lord, no matter the cost.