My priest suggested a few months ago that I should consider finding a spiritual director. He’s off to another assignment in another state, so he can’t be it. How does one go about finding a spiritual director? Would it be appropriate to ask a priest outside my own parish? We only have two, and one of those is newly ordained, so I don’t see asking either of ours. How does one ask a priest to be her director? What does a director do? How would it be different than just having a regular confessor?
Things may be different where you are but with such a shortage of parish priests, a lot of them don’t really have the time to take on regular spiritual direction for individuals. Also, spiritual direction implies a long-term relationship; your spiritual director gets to know you pretty well. I’ve gotten the feeling here that with all the scandals in recent years, parish priests are a little reluctant to offer long-term spiritual direction to women. If there are monasteries within a reasonable distance from you, that’s an excellent place to look, especially if your focus for spiritual direction is specifically prayer. You can look on the internet for monasteries and there’s a directory of Catholic retreat centers in book form which also may be available for free on the internet… Your diocese can also give you the names of directors listed with them, religious and lay. I don’t think the term “confessor” is used much today; “spiritual director” has taken it’s place. What they do depends a lot on you and your needs. Some days you may go and really need to do some heavy-duty discussion and prayer, but then there are the times when you might have a much more light-hearted conversation and laugh a lot. Your director might suggest some private study or spiritual excercises. I think the norm is monthly meetings if your director is close enough to see and return home in one day. If you have more than one monastery in your area, you might take some time and look into what the orders are all about. You need to find a good match, too, somebody with whom you can talk freely and comfortably. Some people might argue this, but I think it’s important that you like the person. If you don’t, you unconsciouly resist and find it difficult to trust. I had two situations when I was first getting spiritual direction that were a waste of time for all concerned because I was too shy to ask for someone else and actually began to dread the meetings. Hope this all helps and that you find someone who’ll be very helpful to you.
Have you prayed over this question? Ask God to give you a spiritual director and it will happen. Lay your heart open to God, ask for the help, then go see a priest in your parish and tell them what they are looking for.
Would it be appropriate to ask a priest outside my own parish? We only have two, and one of those is newly ordained, so I don’t see asking either of ours. How does one ask a priest to be her director? What does a director do? How would it be different than just having a regular confessor?
You go up to a priest and say you’re getting the feeling you should have a spiritual directory, how does it work? Really – just walk up and ask.
In my case, I prayed over it, picked one of the priests from my parish, and asked him. Rather than catching him after mass, I called him up and left a message, saying I was looking for a spiritual director. He called back quickly and agreed to meet with me. We’re in the initial stages. One of the first thing was to agree that if it became clear to either of us that it wasn’t working, we’d stop with no hard feelings.
A director helps you in growing your spiritual life. This is far more than confession – but in my case our sessions always begin with a confession.
Regarding time – I’ve been told by a former priest that most priests LOVE spiritual direction, even if they don’t “have the time” to do it they’ll make the time, because it can be so fulfilling for them to enter a true discipleship relationship on an individual level.
The ability to give direction is a gift that not all priests have. While there are classes for it, it is not really something you learn, athought the techniques learned in a program are helpful. And directors do not have to be priests. I know many fine religious and lay people who are spiritual directors. I even know some priests and deacons who go to women directors because they like the point of view from someone of the opposite sex. I know that it is one of the reasons I like my SD (who happens to be a priest with much experience in direction). If there is a Jesuit retreat house near you they are all trained in spiritual direction. As someone else noted, being in direction is being in a relationship. I have been with my director for 12 years. Even when he was out of the country for a few years we would communicate by e-mail, SKYPE and phone calls. A big thing also is that you director does not tell you what to do but helps YOU to discern what the Holy Spirit wants you to do, even if the director might not share the same opinion. In fact, his or her opinions should never come into it unless they notice you doing something that goes against the Church or can really keep you from following Christ. For example, for reasons I won’t get into (and it didn’t involve sin), I refrained from receiving communion for a month. My director thought it was very odd, and didn’t agree, but he felt that if I felt strongly that it was what God was calling me to do at the time then so be it and he helped me to get through that period. He suggests things that I just feel I can’t do and we negotiate. So it is a give and take of sorts. But, if he totally insists I do something then out of obedience I do it, for I really do feel the Spirit is acting within him when we meet for direction.
Anyone can be your spiritual director. A priest is best but the person you choose should be holy, orthodox and very knowledgeable about the spiritual life. The SD is only supposed to be a minor assistant to the great director - The Holy Spirit whom I like to call the Holy Spirit of Love. I would ask around but more importantly ask the Holy Spirit to help you choose one and ask Him to start directing you right now. Be sure to spend plenty of time in prayer with Him so He can help you. It’s He who will be your main director, He will help you gain in holiness and knowledge and understanding and He will help you in more ways tham any of us will ever know. You can also ask His Spouse, our Blessed Mother to pray to Him to help you. We can’t even say a word of prayer without His help so pray to Him and be devoted to Him. He will sanctify you.
I wanted to reply to all of you yesterday, but by the time I got to it I was just too tired :rolleyes:
Thank you all. You all bring up some wonderful points and I’m very glad I posted this thread, for my sake and the sake of everyone else who needs or wants a spiritual director. I have decided, based on your posts, that I need to pray to be pointed to someone who can do the job, and not to go making a “search.” I will also keep company with good Catholics, priests and otherwise, and keep my eyes peeled for a good candidate.