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Should my confessor and spiritual director be the same person?

Dear Dan, should I get spiritual direction from the priest who regularly takes my confession? I don’t know if he would be interested but I wanted to ask about the appropriateness of this approach before I ask him. Is there a down side?

As with most questions we receive, yours is very encouraging. The first level of encouragement comes from your regular commitment to confession. The second is that you are answering the call to deepen your faith through spiritual direction!

The answer to your question is, it depends. It is ideal for spiritual direction and confession to happen at the same time. Why? Because the essence of confession is to deal with our sins (our most prominent and problematic flaws). If we have a regular confessor, this then affords him the ability to see the heart of our struggles in a way that is uncommon when spiritual direction and confession happen with different people. It is also more common to feel comfortable with discussion about our sins in the context of confession than it is with a layperson. The final point worth noting here is that good confessors often make good spiritual directors.

The down side of combining spiritual direction and confession is that in the present state of the Church, most priests don’t have the time. This brings us to a compromised situation. However, some may know that in his younger years, Pope John Paul II had a lay spiritual director. Holiness and wisdom in the church are not in any way limited to priests and religious.

So, if your confessor is helpful and offers spiritual direction, that would the best option.

Other Posts on Spiritual Direction:
Spiritual Direction Index
Faithful Priests are Too Busy – What can I do?
Spiritual Direction is NOT Confession
Spiritual Direction is NOT a Boss-Employee Relationship

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs. If you have an interest in having Dan come speak at your parish or Catholic event or group, contact us at rcspiritualdirection@gmail.com or call 818-646-7729.

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