Purpose of Spiritual Directors?


I was unclear. Sorry.

I don’t consider the occasional question I ask a priest to be formal spiritual direction. It’s how I continue my spiritual journey until I find my next SD. The level of trust you speak of does require regular time spent getting to know me and my particular challenges. At the moment, I don’t have recourse to that but I think it’s better to have my questions answered in a general sense than to leave them completely unaddressed.

I do agree that an SD should not be a personal friend. In fact, I have met many SDs who will not direct their friends (or members of their families, or anyone employed by their respective parishes). An SD should feel free to say what (s)he thinks, even if doing so is hard for the directee to hear. Frank discussion of delicate matters could put an existing friendship at risk; in this situation, an SD might be reluctant to be frank, and that could result in less beneficial direction.


This, too, are my thoughts as to what one should look for if they sense that the Spirit is leading one to spiritual direction


The basis of Burke’s opinion is the idea that we all have blind spots and no one is good at properly detecting and objectively assessing his/her own blind spots. I agree with this. What I don’t agree with is the idea that formal spiritual direction is the only way to deal with one’s blind spots. My relationship with The Husband helps me see some areas of my spiritual life that need work, but by no stretch of the imagination is he my SD.


Did your SD give any reason(s) for his warning against that site?


Yes, that is my thought as well. God works through all and everything, and everyone. We just need to be open to it.


I think you hit the nail on the head here, particularly when you mention your relationship with your husband. What Burke fails to take into account when he discusses the necessity of regular spiritual direction is that the saints who advocate this were monastics writing for monastics. The Desert Fathers were equally concerned that a monk, and especially hermits, have a spiritual father that they’d meet with regularly, sometimes even daily. They recognized our need for community, and our ability to easily deceive ourselves or be deceived by the devil when left to our own devices.

Those of us who are married know that our spouse (and not infrequently our children) is often the best person for helping us to see our blind spots.

My own Dominican spiritual father (who is actually a very good friend) mentioned how the Dominican tradition of spiritual direction is simply for the directee to seek formal direction when they face a big life-decision (i.e. vocational discernment, career change, etc.). This is obviously a conflicting viewpoint to Burke’s “necessity of formal direction” for growth in the spiritual life.


Spiritual Direction has a specific purpose. That purpose is discernment. Proper discernment can not be done from time to time. I’ve been meeting with my SD for 7 months and we are still in very early stages. She is getting to know who I am and I am gaining more trust in her. The person you would to as the need arises is your priest or if your parish has good deacons, you can go to them.

As far as everyone needing a SD, I’m not so sure on that. For someone who will be coming into the church this Easter you will spend the following year or two figuring out what you want to do to serve, where you want to be included. This really just takes time and some trial & error. I know I tried a few things at first just to realize my talents did not fit where I thought they did. And in a very strange turn of events the exact place I knew my talents were not compatible is now what I do for a living for the Church. We plan, God laughs.


So very true which is why I am not planning at this time other than undertaking spiritual direction. The next year or two will certainly be geared toward discernment especially since there is also a personal revelation/prompting of the spirit that I need to sort out.


QFT. Even in spiritual direction. My most recent SD was among the last people I would have approached for spiritual direction. The Holy Spirit apparently thought otherwise. It was a truly beneficial relationship.


As I read all these posts, it leads me to conclude that there is no hard and fast definition of “Spiritual directors” or direction. It can mean different things to different people.

St. Theresa did say to be careful about choosing your spiritual director because the wrong spiritual director may do more harm to the soul than good.

(I think that is basically what he said. Please correct me someone if they know the exact quotation I’m referring to.)


St. John of the Cross, agreeing with the Desert Fathers, also said that it was more important to find a spiritual director who was experienced in the spiritual life (i.e. very advanced in holiness) than one who was well educated. St. Teresa seemed to have disagreed with him, but she did admit that ideally you’d find one that was both educated and experienced.

So it appears that even the saints had different views on what made a good spiritual director.

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