Is it necessary to have a spiritual director when one is discerning his/her vocation to the religious life/priesthood?
It’s highly recommended, but sometimes it can’t be done for some people, like me. I used to have a spiritual director, but we had to end it when he was really busy and I was not enjoying our meetings (I felt like I wasn’t getting much out of it). Since then, I have asked several priests about the possibility. They referred me to some people but nothing materialized. Other people that were discerning mentioned that I could do a penpal style spiritual direction, but I’m more of a face-to-face discerner, so that wouldn’t work for me. Fortunately, I have a Catholic social worker who is helping me out on both emotional and spiritual issues, so she is acting as my unofficial spiritual director.
Yes, especially for the consecrated life. I think it would be highly advisable for the secular priesthood as well, but most definitely for the consecrated.
Many who become seminarians don’t have spiritual directors until they get to the seminary. They usually talk to their diocesan vocations director (who cannot serve as their spiritual director) who guides them through the process of applying to seminary, and their first experience in spiritual direction is at the seminary (where everyone has one).
Often, people who go into religious life have had a spiritual director, who guided them to a religious community rather than a diocesan seminary. If they haven’t, they will surely get one when they start formation with the community they want to join.
It certainly is helpful to have a spiritual director before you make that step of applying to a diocese or religious community, but it isn’t essential. The most important thing is that you receive the Sacraments frequently and pray regularly. If God wants you to be in spiritual direction before trying to enter the priesthood or religious life, He will let you know.
p.s. Thanks for highlighting that one DaughterofMary - "If God wants you to be in spiritual direction before trying to enter the priesthood or religious life, He will let you know."
Almost missed it!
I myself had meetings with 2 priests just 1 meeting per priest. I usually send emails and facebook messages to priests online when something is buzzing about in my head. I usually talk to the rector of the seminary I plan to talk to.
I do not know if this is the official way to go about spiritual direction, but it is how I do it
I’m not 100% sure, so don’t quote me on this…but “official” spiritual direction is going to one priest at least once a month, if not twice or more, for spiritual guidance/advice. When one has a spiritual director, the spiritual director usually becomes the directee’s confessor as well.
Obviously what works for you, works for you - but it would be nice to talk to a priest face to face rather than by e-mail and/or facebook messages. In my opinion, active and diligent discerning involves moving out of cyberspace and more into the real world. But who knows, maybe you don’t have many available priests in your area.
I live on a campus right now with at least 3 and possibly 4 available priests. I am a sophomore this year, but I am just now getting a spiritual director. I think for some people it really takes courage to schedule a meeting and talk face to face with a priest, and it did for me, but I am convinced that talking to a priest every two to four weeks about discernment and spiritual direction in general definitely can’t hurt!
Anyway, have a good time at your upcoming seminary visit!
Thank you. It is what I have done in the past, the only problem I had, which I am slowly coming out of was shyness. When I talked to my first pastor I could only say so much, then our conversation turned out to be about computers haha.
So the problem for me was I couldn’t find anything to say, and I would sit there akwardly. And I use to go to confession with a different priest everytime. I have recently found the courage to go face to face with a priest. I even mention “Hey I want to be a priest.” Hoping he will give me advice.
Yeah, I describe myself as somewhat shy as well. I am also sort of coming out of it. And you’re one step ahead of me in terms of going face to face for confession…I still can’t bring myself to do that, although that’s not necessarily a sign of shyness. It’s probably more one of pride or something. Anyway, maybe I’ll be able to go face to face with the priest I just met with, after a few more meetings.
About it taking courage to contact a priest - well, I wrote out the e-mail contacting him asking if we could set up an appointment, and then I couldn’t even press send for at least a 1/2 hour! I wonder what that means.
As for finding things to say, I know what you mean. For a first meeting with a priest you don’t know, the first meeting is probably fine because you don’t know anything about each other. Spritual direction is also about building a relationship with each other, so you should get to know each other. As the relationship builds, I imagine it’d be easier to talk about things, whether they be related to vocations or spirituality or other. However, I don’t speak from experience - yet.