Question on St. Francis de Sales


Hello Everyone,

I have begun reading St. Francis de Sales’ book Introduction to the Devout Life. In the beginning he recommends the reader find a “spiritual father.” From his description, this sounds like a confessor but in the introduction the term “spiritual director” is used. Which term more accurately describes (in modern terms) what St. Francis had in mind?

The question has a practical application for me because our parish is physically isolated and we have only one priest. He’d be a great spiritual director but he has a ton of duties and I’ve already loaded up his plate with other problems, so I rather fear asking him to take on the role of spiritual director anytime in the next 8-10 months. (As confessor, of course, he’s there for me when I need it, which believe me is often from necessity. :o )

Any thoughts? I’d also welcome any general comments from people who’ve read this book.



A spiritual director is a priest. He can either be a priest you talk to or your regular confessor.

I do want to caution that it dose not matter what priest you go to for Confession. The priests have all the same power from Christ.


Yes, of course, but in this case we have one priest, period. My question is, though, is this what St. Francis refers to in his Introduction–spiritual director in the modern sense of the term? In the 1600s people often had Confessors, but the term spiritual director is a modern one, so I am wondering whether I can proceed with St. Francis’ route to the devout life without having a spiritual director right away. Sorry if this wasn’t clear.



My dear friend

Anyone male or female can be a spiritual director. A priest is best but if not possible ask him or someone if they know a person who is knowledgeable about the spiritual life, orthodox and holy. They can guide you. The book is a classic and very good to start but also to redo if you wander in the spiritual life a bit too much. I would advise to do all these standard things but note that in the end God just wants our love. all these things are necessary for us and for our benefit but God just wants us to love Him.
Enjoy the book it is a classic.

God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit