If you’re like many Catholics today, you would love to have a spiritual director - but you don’t know where to look. Here are a few things to bear in mind as you set out on your search.
Who can be a spiritual director?
Before we get to this, it may be good to recall what exactly spiritual direction is. Spiritual direction is not just a chat between friends, or even a counseling session. It is a conversation between three people: the person guided, the spiritual director, and the Holy Spirit. The goal: to discover and follow the will of God and to grow in holiness.
Spiritual direction - or spiritual guidance as it’s also called - is often given by priests, but it can also be given by religious, consecrated persons, or even qualified lay people. It is recommended to have a set spiritual director. The more your spiritual director gets to know you, the more he or she can help you grow in holiness.
How can I find a spiritual director?
Before you start your search, it would be good to remember what St. John of the Cross says about spiritual directors. He says that the person wishing to grow in holiness should "take care into whose hands he entrusts himself, for as the master is, so will the disciple be, and as the father is so will be the son" (CCC 2960).
St. John also recommends that a director be learned, discreet, and experienced in the spiritual life. So when you’re looking for a spiritual director, look for someone faithful to the Church’s teachings, someone you admire as a man or woman of God, and someone you think can help you.
You could start by looking for a priest in your area: your parish priest, one from a nearby parish, a chaplain at a university near you… Also look into religious priests, sisters, or consecrated men or women in your area. If you don’t know of any, ask around. The diocese should be able to let you know of religious orders working in their diocese. Or if there’s one religious family you feel at home with, try contacting them and asking members close to your area.
Do they have the time?
We all know that priests are busy people, just like the rest of us. But don’t feel bad about asking one for some of his time. He’s given his life to help souls grow closer to God. Plus, spiritual direction doesn’t have to take hours. Every soul is different, but for some, fifteen minutes after a monthly confession may be sufficient.
Don’t give up
If you aren’t able to find a spiritual director right away, don’t give up. Keep looking patiently. Trust that God has a plan and will put the right people on your path when it’s his time.
In the meantime, don’t wait until you find a spiritual director to start working! You can build your spiritual life now by your participation in the Sacraments and daily prayer. Read solid spiritual books which nourish your faith. Find time for fellowship with others who share your ideals, such as a Catholic bible study or faith group. Reach out to share your faith with others. Doing these things will help you grow in your faith as you continue your search for someone who can guide you.
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