Papa Bene on the Importance of Spiritual Direction

Wednesday, June 30, AD 2010

Spiritual Direction is where you have a spiritual director, whether a priest or layperson, offer advice, guidance, and feedback in your spiritual health.

This usually involves going over what ails you, whether spiritual or even non-spiritual at times.Β  Then your director offers his or her direction in what aspect of your spiritual life may be deficient and offers a remedy to that deficiency.

This has been my experience so don’t take me as an expert, but as a witness in having spiritual direction.

Saint Theresa of Avila had outstanding spiritual directors which I long for and are a rarity to find.Β  She had spiritual direction from well educated and newly formed Jesuits who attacked the problem at it’s core.

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14 Responses to Papa Bene on the Importance of Spiritual Direction

  • Isn’t this why St. Josemaria Escriva established the Opus Dei prelature?

  • AK,

    Yes, one reason why.

    What’s with the Cthulhu icon?

  • Spiritual direction has been a tremendous grace for me. I’ve been getting it off-and-on for years from Opus Dei people, but I finally “got serious” about it a year ago. It’s probably the only way a schlub like me will ever be able to kick the devil’s ass.

  • Tito,

    No idea. I’m technologically incompetent. In addition to spiritual direction I am in need of technical direction.

  • AK,

    Just poking fun at you.

    I’ve changed the self-generating gravatar from abstract to monsterID.

  • I’ve had nothing but disappointment in my search for a spiritual director. A few priests are willing to be a spiritual director to a certain kind of person – say, in a particular state of life – and aren’t seemingly interested in anyone else, but many aren’t seemingly interested in *anyone*.

    I say “seemingly” because it’s not my place to judge them. At some point a priest’s lack of support for a person in spiritual crisis has to rise to the level of serious sin. I’ve had a couple of confessors whose souls I pray for with significant concern.

  • Pinky,

    I haven’t encountered what you have, but I do long for an excellent spiritual adviser, which I haven’t found yet.

    I’m worried about putting more stress on our priests.

    That is why I mentioned the Jesuits of Saint Theresa of Avila’s time because THAT is what exactly I need.

    Well formed, well educated, and kind spiritual advisers.

  • Tito, I wouldn’t want to say anything that would discourage someone from looking for a spiritual director. I, personally, am just shell-shocked from my experience, but I had some bad luck. And I can’t complain (but sometimes I still do). When you consider the Fall of the House of Maciel, a lot of good people must feel a lot more let down than I ever have.

  • Pinky,

    I hope my comment hasn’t led anyone to be discouraged to search for a spiritual director.

    As for me, I am still looking and so should you!

    πŸ™‚

  • It is nice to know that I am not the only sinner in need of direction. I must admit that pride gets in the way. When I reverted to the Faith, I think I was captivated by Grace and then I relied heavily on the natural virtue of religion. It seems a schmuck like me needed to get catechized after three decades of paganism. It worked for a while and then it became like I was reaching for faith by my own power – God had another plan and he let me get knocked down. He is wonderful.

    Now with my new found humility and a vestigial tinge of pride, He has brought me to the realization that I am NOT so special and I am just like every other sinner; which is to say infinitely special in His eyes, and of the lowest consequence from every other perspective. That is great.

    But, then I feel lost. I know the faith better than the average ‘Catholic’ – I am not boasting, I think this is natural for converts and reverts – The Catholic religion is very exciting and intellectually stimulating. That is NOT enough, in fact, I am not so sure it is even all that necessary. Apparently, the Cure d’Ars was not too bright and yet he was far more faithful and in love with God than I. So I began going to Reconciliation more often, and as often as possible to the same priest. That was very helpful, but he is new, he is busy, he has other sinners that need confession and we can’t really get deep into the issues. He tells me I have a pretty good perspective on the nature of my sins – that has to be Grace. But, I know I need something more.

    I used to think the holier people went to daily Mass, weekly confession, and had spiritual directors. I am now realizing that all that assistance is probably not for the holiest souls, but for the least – like me. I think I need more help, I don’t think I am alone (judging from this thread and the poor quality of Catholic culture in our country). So where to go?

    I have been bumping into Opus Dei more and more and St. Escriva’s books are, well, just amazingly insightful. I keep reading about different spiritualities and praying for guidance, but I seem to like aspects of de Sales, Ignatius, de Montfort, etcetera, etcetera. All good stuff. All orthodox Catholic. But it seems I need focus. So that is what lead me to think of spiritual direction.

    Then I am absent from this site for over a month and the moment I come back, Tito, posts this thread. Theoincidence? Must be.

    So how do you go about figuring this out. Opus Dei is the direction I am planning on going in. In fact, before I stumbled across this thread, I had called to the local Opus Dei study center to make an appointment.

    Do any of you know more about what is required, expected and the type of direction one can expect. I don’t want to be too skeptical, but I know that once the founder dies, things can get dicey. Heck, the Church’s Founder lives and things are dicey. Before, you tell me to pray for the Spirit of discernment – I am doing that. I am still looking for some practical advice from others exploring the same thing. I know this is just a blog, but I have found some of the mos profound Catholic insights on here, although y’all are charitable enough to tolerate some serious wackadoos, too. I might be one whenever the Federal Reserve or the War for Southern Independence comes up πŸ™‚

    Any ideas?

  • Theoincidence

    I like that term! πŸ™‚

    As a Catholic I don’t believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.

    This ‘theoincidence’ probably means God is directing you to follow a holier path. To pray more often during the day and do an examination of conscience at least once a week.

    I attend the month Opus Dei evenings/mornings of reflection. They involve over a two hour period three talks on the faith, reflection, prayer, and benediction of the Holy Sacrament. All throughout the evening/day the Sacrament of Confession is available.

    It’s pretty peaceful and you feel as if your spiritual batteries are recharged after each reflection.

    So I highly recommend it AK!

    (Here in Houston we have an evening of recollection once a month and a morning of reflection once a month… normally these monthly reflections coincide on the same week. This may differ from city to city)

  • Thanks, Tito,

    Theoincidence is not my word. I heard one of my brothers use it on our weekly Cardo Pivot Point call.

    I have been to the reflections, we have one next weekend. I like the Saturday morning Opus Dei reflections with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    I am going to go meet with one of the Opus Dei priests and I’m sure he’ll have some ideas about what I should do to make the decision.

    St. Josemaria was inspired to develop Opus Dei during the Spanish Civil War, so it seems perfect for our times. It is sometimes tempting to run into the desert and become a hermit; but, I don’t think that is where God wants most of us. I am glad you brought this important aspect of spiritual growth to everyone’s attention. I think it is a path many, if not all, of us should pursue.

  • For my part, God has blessed me with a wonderful Jesuit director for many years but then I have to say he’s directed me under duress bc he’s my brother so he basically has no choice πŸ™‚ That said, a wonderfully accessible book has been published this year precisely for Catholics who say they can’t find a good SD. For 15 bucks, its helped me alot & might help others: Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Michael Gaitley, MIC by Marian Press.
    If you’re serious, this book will help and, best part, its not written by academics for academics!

  • GB,

    Thank you for that recommendation!

    If there are other such books out there that our readers are aware of, please share them with us.

    One reason I posted about his was because I too am yearning for a top-notch spiritual director.

    You are very blessed, GB, to have such a good SD!