Spiritual Direction


#1

I am somewhat shy by nature, so this always just gets me. I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and realize that if I could somehow get over the hump of getting one, my spiritual life would be greatly enhanced, and I could probably be aided in my discernment.

I just don't know how it's supposed to go. I mean, I'm hardly going to go up to someone I barely know and start spilling out my life to him. I know he's a priest and that it would be safe and all, but that's not the way I work, I guess. Is that the way I need to work, or what? I read a bit on a website that was given to another person asking about spiritual direction, and that St. Teresa of Avila seems to be a good authority on the matter. Perhaps I'll look into reading more of her stuff.

Let's see if I can come up with more specific questions, since I haven't really asked many.

1) Very simply, I know that I guess the quickest way to get over it would be to just go up to a priest and ask if we can talk...perhaps that would get things going. Do you think this is the best way to get over the nervousness of it, to just go up and start talking?

2) What are some things you recommend I do to get over this nervousness of talking about your personal life? I have actually like, never talked about my personal life with anyone face to face. I have gotten closer with a couple people these past couple years that I've shared a few smaller things with, but that's about it. And I knew/know those people pretty well before I told them those things.

OK, that wasn't much better. But if anyone has anything at all to say about those questions or anything to do with actually talking to a spiritual director, I'd really appreciate it.

*Overall, the problem seems to be me telling the SD certain things about myself, and I guess that's just something I have to get over...can you tell I'm not a face-to-face confession type?? ;)


#2

From one shy person to another: I am a big fan of spiritual direction. My husband commutes to work and sometimes goes to confession or Mass during his lunch break. He found one particular priest in confession who he liked a lot - so much that he asked if I'd like to go to confession with him too. I did, ended up bawling my eyes out (I'm a "Sacrament Crier" :) but I also had some heavy stuff to talk about) and the priest told me to come back to him if I needed any more help. I ended up making an appointment with him and we met in his office. It started off as a conversation, but then he suggested that we finish our appointment with confession. The confession itself was at least two hours long because I did a brief confession by simply listing my sins, but after that he asked if there was anything in particular I needed help overcoming. That's something you can't do in a regular confessional when there's a line of people behind you. By the grace of God the conversation flowed very freely, I remembered some things that I hadn't planned on mentioning but it was fruitful to confess them, and I felt a very strong sense of healing at the absolution.

Based on my experiences, I suggest that you seek out a priest that you are drawn to in some way. Maybe it is a priest at your parish whose homilies speak strongly to you. Maybe it's a priest in another parish who you have visited for confession or who has been recommended to you by a friend. I drive an hour for spiritual direction and though this priest has not been reassigned this year, he is up for reassignment next year and said I could feel free to follow him wherever he goes. My mother in law has been following her spiritual director around for years as he moves from parish to parish within our diocese. Even if you are very shy, it may help to choose someone you feel comfortable with and you will grow more comfortable as you built a rapport. AND, being able to talk to this priest face to face does help you especially with habitual sin. I was able to get some very concrete advice based on my own past and my own state of life. That's something a priest is not able to do anonymously, unless he has a gift for it. :)

If you don't feel comfortable walking up to the priest for the initial meeting, you could also call or email the parish secretary, say you are discerning a vocation, and ask if you could speak to a priest about that calling.

God bless you...whenever I hear that someone is discerning a vocation to the priesthood I feel such hope and joy. I hope you will come back and post an update. :)


#3

In my youth, I was much the same way. I had a journal where I wrote everything down. But as for speaking about personal things with another person face to face? Terrifying! :eek:

It sounds like you are already making progress. It helps to find those good trusted friends that you can gradually reveal yourself to.

I know exactly what you’re getting at. Especially for introverts, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to just dump everything all at once. Not even God did that. :smiley: He revealed Himself incrementally through the Old Testament before revealing Himself completely in Jesus. :slight_smile:

For me, finding a spiritual director happened gradually, too. It was a priest I had come to know and trust through various ministries. And even when it started, he made sure to emphasize that it was okay to just be trying it out. If I ever felt like I didn’t want to continue, I could stop with no hard feelings.

Spiritual direction is very helpful and I highly recommend it. To get started I would say – first and foremost – pray. Ask God to send you the right spiritual director. Second, don’t be afraid to be a little bold. Trust me, I know how hard that is. But sometimes you just have to take the chance. I’ve far more regrets about the chances I haven’t taken than the ones that I did. Just focus on what the next step is and take that step. Things will turn out fine.

You don’t have to bare your sould completely on the first session of spiritual direction. Just get started and see where it leads.


#4

St. theresa is wonderful start the other great writer is the "Doctor of Charity" St. Francis de Sales himself. His book the introduction to the devout life is supremly edifiying and a superb introduction for someone on the path to holiness, he has a section in there where he details how to identify a good SD. remember it can be very hard to find a good SD, they are very scarce and always have been, but it is unwise to entrust your soul to anyone who is not properly qualifed and adept.

My brief recomendations are
1. Choose a Priest who prays, who you know to be very close to God and who has a strong devotion to Our Lady. When he celebrates Holy Mass he would do so reverently in an edifiying unrushed manner.
2. He is a lion in the pulpit not afraid to adress the issues and has a "bit of fire" when nessacary, on the other hand he should be a "lamb in the confessional" gentle and forgiving.
3. Once you have found someone who may be right speak to him and ask if he would be open to taking on new people.
4. If he is then arange to have a trial meeting so you can get to know him.
5. Keep going for a few preliminary meetings and then if you are both happy that you suit eachother then make it a permanent thing. If possible seeting a reguler time frame for meeting, for someone discerning a vocation that would likely be at least once a month.

Thats all for now though I may add more later. You will be in my prayers


#5

[quote="bobballen_18, post:1, topic:329310"]
I am somewhat shy by nature, so this always just gets me. I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and realize that if I could somehow get over the hump of getting one, my spiritual life would be greatly enhanced, and I could probably be aided in my discernment.

I just don't know how it's supposed to go. I mean, I'm hardly going to go up to someone I barely know and start spilling out my life to him. I know he's a priest and that it would be safe and all, but that's not the way I work, I guess. Is that the way I need to work, or what? I read a bit on a website that was given to another person asking about spiritual direction, and that St. Teresa of Avila seems to be a good authority on the matter. Perhaps I'll look into reading more of her stuff.

Let's see if I can come up with more specific questions, since I haven't really asked many.

1) Very simply, I know that I guess the quickest way to get over it would be to just go up to a priest and ask if we can talk...perhaps that would get things going. Do you think this is the best way to get over the nervousness of it, to just go up and start talking?

2) What are some things you recommend I do to get over this nervousness of talking about your personal life? I have actually like, never talked about my personal life with anyone face to face. I have gotten closer with a couple people these past couple years that I've shared a few smaller things with, but that's about it. And I knew/know those people pretty well before I told them those things.

OK, that wasn't much better. But if anyone has anything at all to say about those questions or anything to do with actually talking to a spiritual director, I'd really appreciate it.

*Overall, the problem seems to be me telling the SD certain things about myself, and I guess that's just something I have to get over...can you tell I'm not a face-to-face confession type?? ;)

[/quote]

I think it's quite natural to be nervous about talking to a priest or spiritual director about a possible vocation to the priesthood because it's like a first step in the discernment process that could eventually lead to a lifetime commitment. However, the lifetime commitment isn't made until after many years of discernment.

Most dioceses have a vocation director. Whether or not your contemplating the diocesan or religious priesthood, contacting the diocesan vocation director could be very helpful. In fact, if your interested in the diocesan priesthood, you will eventually have to get in touch with the diocesan vocation director.

Do you know any priests that you feel comfortable talking too? If so, I would maybe talk to that priest about your desires.

God bless!


#6

Gee, Bob! Thanks for posing this question/thread! I always wonder about it, too, but never had the nerve to ask anyone! I worry about asking someone then wanting to stop going to them and not being able to sever the connection if it doesn't "click" Sound like others are saying it should be a priest, though. I'll just tag along and learn from others on here.:)


#7

bobballen,

You have been given good advice and encouragement.

Pray for the courage to ask a holy priest to have a chat with you.

He will understand if you are nervous and will help you.

After that it will get easier and easier to talk about personal things.

May our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother be with you on your spiritual journey!


#8

A vocation is a journey - as is spiritual direction. You’re not going to be expected to reveal every aspect of your life and inner self from the outset. Like any relationship, it takes time for you and your SD to get to know each other and, particularly, for you to be comfortable opening up to him.

Find someone your comfortable talking to and who you think suits your needs and who is also reasonably accessible. Asking for recommendations from others can also be helpful. I also agree with the suggestion of contacting (perhaps by e-mail) the diocesan vocations director - although it does help to have a separate SD.


#9

Talking to a favorite priest, the diocese vocation director, or if there is an order of priests you like, talk to their vocations director. Finding a spiritual director is not easy. I have found 2 books that might be helpful. Dan Burke's Navigating the Interior Life or Fr. Thomas Dubay's Seeking Spiritual Direction Good luck on your spiritual journey.


#10

Thank you all very much for your responses - I appreciate it!

Just so you all know, especially the two who posted about contacting a vocations director: I have actually already contacted our diocese's VD, because I had originally planned to forego my last two years of college to begin seminary study. I began the application process, but was put on hold because my VD wanted me to finish college, especially to gain a "greater circle of friendships so that I will be able to better deal with the challenges of the priesthood" or something like that. And as I mentioned in my first post, I am a little shy, so there is truth to his assumption that I have bunches of friends, and barely even any close ones. Also, just so you know, with the way I am, that experience (being told that by the VD) made me a bit "paranoid" (ok that's probably not the right word but whatever) about my interactions with people - got me thinking too much about what I need to do around other people in order to "develop a greater circle of friendships."

So, partially due to that and also due to my natural disposition, I think it is very awkward when I am sitting with someone and there is a lot of silence. Now, I know there are worse things I could encounter than awkwardness, but still. And this plays into my thoughts about spiritual direction. At this stage in my spiritual life, and in general, I am "a man of few words." and am (probably overly) worried that I won't be able to articulate my thoughts to a priest about my spiritual life.

But some of your responses have gotten me thinking about that - I must pray to be led to a holy priest and get to know him throughout multiple meetings, and eventually "deeper" things could be discussed, especially as I become more comfortable with him.

Again, thank you all, and if you have anything to add regarding the rest of this post, please feel free to do so!!!


#11

Perhaps with your quiet temperament you might want to consider a monastery with a more contemplative life, than a fast paced diocesan life.


#12

[quote="MarcyK, post:11, topic:329310"]
Perhaps with your quiet temperament you might want to consider a monastery with a more contemplative life, than a fast paced diocesan life.

[/quote]

I'm not ruling that out yet, but any perceived call to religious life has not been nearly as strong my perceived call to priesthood.

It's kind of tough to explain this, I guess - it's not that I don't like people or don't like talking to people. It's just that I need to get over "fear of awkwardness" in conversations and social situations. You know, I wouldn't be overly surprised if I took the psych part of the seminary entrance and failed based on certain psychological disorders - mainly, social anxiety. Even if this is true, however, social anxiety can be overcome, and I'm working on that. At least I love listening to people...I've got that part down! ;)


#13

Your vocations director sounds very wise. Indeed, priests cannot avoid contact with many different types of people in many different situations (unless they;re contemplative priests, of course).

I totally understand about getting a bit psyched out and thinking too much. For me, what helped the most was thinking about it as little as possible. :stuck_out_tongue: I might be slightly exaggerating, but honestly, it really does help to try to avoid making simple things (like talking to new people) into events of monumental significance in our own mind. Or maybe that was just what I did. :o

I was greatly assisted through the great Catholic campus ministry program at my college. There were plenty of events I could go to and start out as more of a wallflower (like Mass! :)). Gradually, that changed. So much so that I really hardly noticed it. It is only with hindsight that I can recognize what happened.

If you have any such opportunities, I recommend getting involved in whatever Catholic ministries you can. At the very least, it would be good experience for the priesthood, if you end up going that route. Never underestimate the power of the Mere-Exposure Effect. :stuck_out_tongue: The longer you hang around, the more comfortable people get with you and you with them – even if you’re not always chatting with everyone.

I think one of the most important lessons I learned at the time in my life was that – whenever I took what I considered to be a huge social risk – everything turned out fine. Sure, not everything always turned out the way I thought I wanted it to. But the world kept on turning. I didn’t fall over dead in embarassment. No one pointed at me and laughed. I was just fine. You will be, too.


#14

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