Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates
Catholic Spiritual Direction

Should spiritual directors charge for their services?

October 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Challenges, Dan Burke, Spiritual Direction

My recent post encouraging directees to respond in gratitude to their directors met with a firm rebuke in the com box that I have decided to address. The post was, “Should I pay my spiritual director?” Here is what one reader had to say, “You are wrong, wrong, wrong Dan Burke.  Paying for spiritual direction is simony and it is priests along who have the charism for spiritual direction.  What you are suggesting is like going to the supermarket for surgery.”

Well, as disagreements go, this one is pretty tame. The problem is that the person argues against a position that I have not posed. The post was not arguing that directors should formally charge a specific fee to a directee. I merely echoed what St. Paul encourages in scripture – we should respond generously and materially to those who bless us spiritually. Now, I did state what I have seen as the norm out there for those who do propose a fee. However, stating a norm is not the same as advocating for a norm.

So, all this begs the question, “Should spiritual directors charge for their services?”

Well, to be frank, it doesn’t really matter to me. I would never base my decision on whether or not to seek direction from a particular individual because they did or did not charge a fee. The argument that it is “simony” is specious on its face and I can’t make out the rest of the argument. Simon (from whom the term “simony” is derived) was a man in the book of Acts (chapter eight) who was rebuked by Peter for trying to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism refers to simony as an issue where the sacraments are withheld to the poor because they are unable to pay for them.

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!” Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.” It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

2122 The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.” The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”

In my mind, there is nothing like that going on in spiritual direction, fee or no fee. In fact, I am aware that those who charge a fee often propose it merely as a suggestion and would not charge a fervent soul who could not pay but still needed the help. There may be good arguments against directors who charge for their services but the charge of simony doesn’t seem to me to be one of them (though I am open to argument).

That said, I have spoken with a number of prominent voices on the topic who hold that directors should not have a fee associated with what they do (including the director of a faithful school for spiritual direction). I have also talked with religious who are directed to never ask for or accept anything like a fee for their services. I have no issues with these positions. On the other hand, I know of faithful Catholic spiritual directors who do charge a fee. So, what is the true blue Catholic answer?

One of the things that I love about being Catholic is the absolute clarity on issues that are most important. To me, this doesn’t seem to be one of them. There is no magisterium faithful position on this one. So, it’s up to your better judgement. Still, since the number of responses was so high on the original post I thought it might be interesting to get your take on it. What do you think? What are the best arguments on both sides? Should directors charge a fee or not, and why?

Print Friendly

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.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Susan

    I don’t.  I do not want even the slightest whiff of an exchange of spiritual anything for money.  Now that I control the dispensing of any spiritual good–that work is God’s–but I’m afraid it could be misunderstood by the directee.

    Having said that, I met for several years with a spiritual director at a retreat center, and I did pay the center for her time.  It was part of what kept the retreat center open, the lights on.  I was fine with that, because the money went only indirectly to her.  And its true that one time when she knew I was in financial trouble, she told me to stop paying the center.

    Spiritual directors need to eat and pay bills too, so I am basically OK with the practice of charging if it is well-understood what the charge is for: time spent.  But if you can practice spiritual direction with out charging, I think that is by far the ideal.  And if you are in spiritual direction and have the means, you can ask the director about payment.  When people ask me, I say they could contribute to one of my favorite charities (which I name) or my parish as a way of payment–but I don’t want to know about it.

  • Elizabeth Mahlou

    The spiritual directors in my diocese charge on a sliding scale, and our diocese encourages a discussion of the fee before beginning spiritual direction if one is using those who have been certified by the diocese. Previously, an elderly priest would provide informal spiritual direction and would never have dreamed of charging for it; he seemed to enjoy the sharing.

  • Joan

    I cannot believe that people are objecting to paying a spiritual director for their
    services.  I have seen a spiritual director for about  ten years.  He is connected
    to a Retreat center and has approximately 50 directees who seek him out.
    Some days he spends 5-7 hours in direction. He also does retreats on most weekends.  I moved out of state about 6 years ago and he is more than
    willing to talk with me on the phone.  I cannot imagine NOT paying him for
    his services.  He has a fee but does not charge the individual if they are
    unable to pay. He is a member of a religious order and does not even see
    the money.  We spend money on cleaning ladies, waitresses,nannies, golf attendants and etc. but do not want to pay a director.  Shame on you!!!
    What could be more important than saving your soul???

    • Lissette

      Hello, I agree Joan.  Maybe we should call it a donation or gift, to them.  After all, God Is the Giver of all.  We will always be the receivers.   With a grateful heart, I usually give them a spiritual card along with my gift.  Thank you, Lissette

    • Mary42

      Thank you, Joan.  I especially love your last line : “What could be more important than saving your soul” It is amazing how people casually treat matters of Salvation as optional.  Surely if one loves to be with God one day, giving some payment to a person who is journeying with you on your Spiritual Journey would be automatic and given with Christ’s Gratitude.A Spiritual Director is given by the Holy Spirit who wishes you to get as much help as you need.

  • Patricia St Clair

    No, a ‘fee’ should not be charged, but we do well to remember the words of scripture and give with a glad heart!

  • Jbaaakozlowski2

    Since Jesus set the standard of how to live, I am actually curious – are there any record of Jesus charging or maybe not charging ~ but accepting any fees ~ for all his teachings, ministries, and healings while on earth? 

    For the record, I am NOT saying not to appreciate, pray for, feed if we are with them around a meal time, take care of a need they may have if we see it, celebrate those things that are important to them (maybe with a gift), grieve with, and sometimes supplement those people in our lives that add value – especially those looking out for our souls!   I think we should be VERY grateful and show this through our actions.   Our priests, deacons and spiritual directors are marvelous and …  Priceless …    :D  

    So, to actually charge a fee?  I would think that if one of these persons goal is to try and  imitate Christ … let Christ set the standard of acceptable and let that determine protocol. 

  • Sandy

    I am a laywoman who took Spiritual Direction classes for two years, and I had to pay a hefty fee each semester for these classes, not counting the many books that I purchased in order to continue to learn to be an effective Spiritual Director and guide.  I have never charged for the direction that I give.  I was the only person in the class of twelve who said that they would not charge a fee.  I believe that being able to direct others to grow in their relationship with God is a gift from God that should be shared freely with those who request the guidance or direction.  However, I give a donation to my Spiritual Director whenever I have Spiritual Direction, not because of the direction, but as a small token of appreciation for taking the time to meet with me.

  • B A M

    I think that a fee should not be charged for spiritual direction since it would bring about a whole other dynamic to the relationship and give it the feel of a business transaction rather than guidance and consolation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving a voluntary donation if one so chooses to show gratitude in a material way; however, money does have a way of changing the essence of something spiritual & not of this world to something material & of this world. I wouldn’t want to feel continually obliged to donate every time or perhaps formulate an offering based on what I got out of the appointment; but that’s just me and my perspective at this point of my spiritual journey.

    God bless you,
    BAM

  • http://www.travelingeucharisticmiracles.com LIssette

    This article made me think about both of my Spiritual Directors. By the grace of God they both are Priests.  Why two?  Well, one is now 86 and with health issues.  I visit him about three times a week or more.  The other is my new Spiritual Director and we are getting to know each other spiritually.  Neither one charged for direction but if I am able to share what God gives me, I have given them a donation; treated them to a meal or even given them a gift.  Another way to look at this in reverence is that God Is the Giver of all.  We shall live our lives as “receivers” from Abba Father.  We give and we receive but knowingly that it All comes from the Almighty One, Holy Trinity.  With this thought, I remember many times during times of hardships that one of my director’s gave me a little  helping hand.  With my grateful heart, he would always tell me, “Lissette, it comes from God”.  God will take care of His missions and His ministers.  No reason to take this on a wrong path.  Thank you, Lissette   

  • “Faith”

    In the last year, I have sought out the spiritual help from a good priest who has guided me on the path towards Christ and enriched my faith more than I could have ever imagined.  He has advised me during times of tragic circumstances but it has all been the will of our Lord how things are turning out.  He has encouraged me to pray, to be more like Jesus, to fully live my faith. 

    I have often thought how could I ever repay him for the time, dedication and true generosity of his time towards me and my family.  In the real world, this kind of “counseling” would have cost thousands and thousands in my opinion…. So, I have several times given him a thank you card with a check for his mission, usually around $100….sometimes less.  I respond to fundraising initiatives, purchase masses for sick and deceased, too, as a way to “keep the lights on” as one person wrote in their comment.  On a personal level, I wish I could do more – but, what do you buy a priest?  Homemade baked goods, a holiday plant…. and, sometimes asking, is there something I can do or something you need.  He is always most appreciative and his answer is always the same as to what I can give him: “your prayers” and to live a holy life like God wants us all to.

    I used to attend a parish years ago that sent out this beautiful fundraising letter – they needed repairs done and were soliciting funds.  The letter talked about how a hundred years ago, people came to the US from their respective countries and built churches and how you don’t see many churches being built anymore…. I feel that however we support our religious – whether it be parishes, retreat centers, seminaries, spiritual directors – it is our way of building the church.

  • Maggie

    When a new directee comes in to see me he or she inevitably asks about a fee. My standard reply is, “I don’t do this work to make money, but if you would feel more comfortable paying a small fee each month I will accept whatever you can afford to offer. Some of my directees feel as though having to pay for the time makes them more accountable. On the other hand, I see one gentleman weekly and he pays nothing, and I am fine with that. I then donate the money to charitable causes that I take in from Direction, so I feel that the money is put to God’s use, not mine.

    Coincidentally, when I had priests for spiritual directors they would never accept a fee. I do offer a fee to my present director who is a lay woman/Chaplain.

  • Carla

    I’m reminded of this saying:

    Get wisdom, because it is better than gold: and purchase prudence, for it is more precious than silver. (Proverbs 16:16)

  • Jeanette

    Let your reward be in heaven. That said, we should also follow the teachings of St. Paul, as mentioned above. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with a monetary gift to a Spiritual Guide, as a token of appreciation. But let it be the givers gift and not a “fee” suggested by the Director. Additionally, Directors may not be in need of any monitary blessings, but there may be another way to express appreciation for their services. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are beautiful ways to thank anyone for anything. Lastly, one can always offer a gift (monetary or otherwise) to someone who IS in need, and offer it in the name of one’s Spiritual Director.

  • Guest

    I have no problem donating to the retreat house where I go for spiritual direction. Religious who have taken vows of poverty can still accept donations for books, a gift card for gas or restaurant meals or a donation to charity.  A diocesan priest does not take a vow of poverty, and so, could accept money or gifts for himself or for the parish. I would also not have a problem voluntarily paying a lay spiritual director who has spent thousands on training and books, not to mention the time they devote.  All finanacial concerns should be discussed ahead of time.  I don’t believe a set fee is right.  I am in my 3rd year of training and will receive a diocesan certificate next spring.  At that point I would feel comfortable accepting money, but not demanding a set fee. There is a big difference.

  • New name!

    I believe a spiritual director should NOT charge a fee (it is, after all, SPIRITUAL direction)…except if that is what the person does for a living and has no other means of support, such as a lay director or a retreat house that specializes in this sort of thing.  Then, it should be on a sliding scale.  A fair payment would be what the directee gets paid as an hourly wage.  That is not asking too much for an hour’s worth of the director’s time.  If the directee cannot pay, then the director should not require it.  Should we compensate in other ways?  Yes, I believe a grateful heart will find other ways to show it’s appreciation…beginning with prayer.

  • Susan

    Dan, I empathize with the quandry you have found yourself in with this post.  You have done a good job of encouraging the dialogue.  Your readers present well thought out responses.  I would like to bring a few other aspects to bare.  I am on staff at a large parish where I participate in the charisms of teaching, spiritual direction, evangelization, and a few other charisms.  I state my job description very carefully for a purpose.  A charism, unlike the sanctifying gifts (7 fold gifts) is given to the Body of Christ for the building up of the Body.  The traits of a true charism would be outward directed, effective, and dispensed with joy (note the work of the St. Catherine of Sienna Institute, Colorado) A charism is given…by the Holy Spirit.  It does not belong to an individual.  The Spirit was given to us without cost, and all that the Spirit is about should be dispensed likewise, as is scriptural.  The contention here seems to be payment. Thus, as scripture exhorts, show gratitude to your spiritual mothers and fathers.
    As one who has been in direction for a long time and participates in the charism to the Body of Christ, my greatest payment in gratitude for what our Lord has given to me, to give to the Body, is the ever evident and growing life of holiness in those whom the Spirit directs with my assistance.  Truly Dan, the payment par excellence is watching the charism work with the 7 fold gifts as a life is yielded to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  I give a gentle caution to your readers as the ‘banner of payment’ is waved, to not step into pride because you are capable of and/or willing to pay with a monetary gift of gratitude.  Many, if not most of the directees I meet with, would be incapable of a monetary measure of gratitude.  But truly I tell you, their growth in humility, holiness, obedience, and joy is a far more excellent compensation.  There can be a temptation with other means of gratitude to begin to think we owe our sp. directors, or they owe us, some form of unhealthy allegiance.  May our only allegiance be that of holiness.  I would like to suggest to your readers other means of gratitude that I have given or been the recipient of; letters of gratitude, having Masses offered, gifts specific to one’s vocational call, prayers for their family, and food items.  Let us as children of a Perfect Father, who is Perfect Love, model our service to the Body of Christ by the greatest example of servanthood we will ever know, that of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Let us all be more than willing to lay down our lives in imitation of His.

  • Cheryl

    Dan,

    Thank you for continuing this dialogue from last week’s posting. I wanted to
    add another 2 cents from my comments last week..first of all, there is a difference between suggesting an offering from the one receiving and requesting a fee charged by the Spiritual Director. Many people don’t realize the real financial struggles, salary limitations, overstretched schedules and obligations/workload a priest has to contend with on a daily basis. Offering is acknowledging  appreciation while respecting a sensitive perspective to their needs..Time is a priceless commodity. But in reality how can we turn a blind eye to the temporal needs of other when one’s soul is being shepherded?

    The gift of ‘tithing’ is defined as gratefully giving back to the place or the person who gives you spiritual food or nourishment…each according to their own means… and The Bible teaches that offering this on faith will bring back abundance in many ways to the person giving. As one gives, so shall one receive… rewards and graces are a 2 way street….

  • Lyonsjoan

    Dear Dan,
    I agree with you entirely. Years ago, a well known female theologian chastized the 25 graduate students in a Scriptural Spirituality in Ministry course working on our MA in Pastoral Ministery. She announced the very first day, if we were getting paid for our work in the Church, we were not doing ministry. If we were getting a degree from taking this course we were hypocrites.  Whoa, I looked at my classmates, deacons, youth ministers, DREs, grief facilitators, etc.  We all had some positions in ministry where we were selected by the Archdiocese to specific ministry leadership responsibilities.  Later I learned that she had three PhDs and was getting a substantial fee for teaching the course to graduate students.  As the course progressed, I saw she was shocking us into a different level of ministry spirituality.  Put money and degrees (position) aside, ministry is a resposnsibility of all  baptised Christians, a divine calling to live and give witness to God’s Word and God’s “kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”  As you say, “One of the things  I love about being Catholic is the absolute clarity on issues that are most important… (getting paid for what I do) doesn’t seem to be one of them.” 

    • New name!

      Wow!  What a strange idea your well known theologian had.  Priests get paid, albeit, for most, not a great amount by today’s standards.  By her definition, they are not ministering either. 

      Yes, ministry is a divine calling, a responsibility of all the baptized.  Someone who ministers will be a shepherd who does not run away when the wolf comes.  Someone who is in it for the money will run away.  That’s how the difference.  Whether they get paid or not is a matter of what is right for that situation.  If that’s how they earn their living, without any other source of income, it’s fine to remunerate for direction, on a sliding scale.  If they don’t earn their living by doing spiritual direction, then they aught not get paid for it.  In other words, they already have another source of meeting their daily obligations (ie they are a priest, religious, lay person who is supported by their parish/diocese/archdiocese/religious community).  We do have a responsibility to support those who minister (as a living).  Not only is it in canon law, it’s in scripture–a worker deserves his pay (cf 1 Tim 5:18).  And, Jesus was not directly paid for his ministry but he was supported by many (cf Luke 8:3).

  • Marie James

    As a spiritual director I struggled over this.  In the past when I was working at a parish I did not charge, I saw it as one of the facets of my position as Pastoral Associate.  Now that I am no longer working and money is tight I tell people when they ask “How much?” that since I am no  longer salaried I would ask for a donation as they are able.  Some people do not pay and I know they do not have the ability.  Others pay anywhere up to $50.00.  I have beome comfortable with this method.

  • Dwyder

     I must say I ALSO was shocked that you would accept/ suggest accepting money for spiritual direction is ok…it just didn’t “feel” right…..I agree no no no….and I LOVE LOVE your articles so much…God bless you and your ministry….sincerely, diane wyder

    • Anonymous

      Great – thanks for saying so. The only way to achieve clarity is through dialogue. I appreciate all the input!

      • Mark A. Rains

        I couldn’t more fully concur with your response to Dwyder here, Dan. I was on a blog some years ago, studying a particular subject which absolutely piqued everyone’s interest, though the topic was very controversial. Unfortunately, the disagreements and arguments got so out of hand as people blogged AT each other, instead of blogging WITH each other. I am new to this group, but I wanted to take this opportunity to affirm the way it responds to one another, when it comes to disagreements. E. Stanley Jones, a widely-known Methodist missionary to India back in the early 20th century summarizes what is a part of the very heart of this group: “Here we enter into a fellowship; sometimes we will agree to disagree; always resolve to love, and unite to serve.” As a result, this blog has the on-going potential to be a vehicle to teach others how one can learn to agree to disagree agreeably in the unity of the Spirit we share in Christ. Mark A. Rains
         

  • Bernie

    I would never seek help from a spiritual director without giving a donation as close as possible to professional counseling fees as I could. I have no problem with a director having a fee. Quite frankly, spiritual directors have fees far less than their ‘secular’ colleagues.

  • Mark A. Rains

    Your
    comments Dan reminded of the first part of the story when Jesus was preparing
    the disciples for their first mission (Mt. 10:1-10). One of the things He was
    initially trying to teach them, of course, is that one must begin to demonstrate
    faith by obeying a command, whether it appears contradictory or logical or not.
    I also believe that the lack of provisions the disciples were to take that was given in
    the command has a two-fold purpose. Not only would it remind them that,
    ultimately, the demonstration of the deeds of faith–without Jesus’ physical presence–is
    just as important as the trust he was trying to elicit both from them, in addition
    to those who would be encouraged to trust that they could supply for the
    disciples needs–even if they were struggling themselves. For this lesson, in my
    judgment, is not just about the disciples; it’s about all of us. The New
    International Version, an approved translation of The Holy Bible by The Magisterium,
    indicates, once again, the disciples should essentially take nothing, “for the worker is worth his keep”
    (Mt. 10:10b). Along with similar assertions about being compensated for any
    services rendered, pastoral remuneration, missionary service, and outreach, for
    example, is predicated on this verse, which does beg the question: Why should
    compensation for spiritual directors be excluded? To propose a solution to this
    dilemma, as the executive director of a registered non-profit organization,
    who–in part–reaches out to those in crisis and transition, this is what we do.
    As a board certified pastoral counselor, I do not charge anything for my
    services, as I do my best to stand in the gap (Ez. 22:29-30) for those without financial resources. As many of us know, most insurance companies only pay about 50% for any
    type of mental health care and this is one of the primary reasons that some
    people never seek counseling. In fact, this is precisely why I have never
    charged anything for counseling in the twenty-five years I’ve been in the
    ministry. And, I believe the same can be applicable when it comes to spiritual
    direction. On the other hand, if those I either counsel or direct raises the issue of remuneration
    for my services, it is, then, and only, then, I indicate they can
    contribute whatever the Lord places on their hearts (2 Cor. 9:7) to our
    organization—but, not to me personally. Coupled with this, I also indicate to them
    that by their generosity they are assisting others who have no resources, which
    validate them, knowing they are contributing to this on-going work, as I have
    assisted them with what I have to offer them. In this way, therefore, in my
    judgment, everyone who is involved here is simply being asked to trust that “the
    Lord will provide” (Gen.22:14). Respectfully submitted, Mark A. Rains

    • Anonymous

      Thoughtful insights here Mark – well worth consideration

  • Debano810

    What you stated about paying a Spiritual director sounds good to me.  One pays for a wedding Mass or a Mass for a funeral.  So why not a Spiritual director.  He has to eat and pay bills too.  That’s just my thought.  God Bless.
    md

  • Teresa

    Spiritual directors come in all shapes, sizes and states of life.  All situations are unique so I hesitate to say a director “should” do either/or.  I agree with you, Dan. It’s up to your better judgment.  My spiritual director left it in my hands when I asked.  He told me he did not charge a fee.  He also said if I wanted to give a donation to his parish from time to time, that would be fine. That is what I do – sort of.  I determined how much per visit I felt like I should “give to God in return”, and periodically I give him a thank you card with cash to cover several visits.  I have told him it is a donation for either of his parishes or for him, and that I’m giving it to him to use as he pleases.  I never ask how it is used, nor does he tell me.  It has been given with gratitude to my spiritual director for him bringing Christ to me. Whether he chooses to give it to the parish, the school, a needy parishioner, or to buy a book for himself  really doesn’t matter to me. 

  • Anonymous

    Boy, has this sparked interest!! :)

    I base my beliefs on Matthew 10:8 “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.  Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

    I do leave a donation for the community where I receive spiritual direction, but I would be wary of a director who charged for their services.  Given that the Holy Spirit is the true director anyway………..how can we claim that we have earned anything?  (I am in the process of becoming a director, and will not charge my directees…..both out of obedience to my formation director and because in my heart it doesn’t feel right.)

    This presents an interesting paradox.  In recent years the youth in my area have quit charging for car washes but accept donations instead.  Yes, they wash some cars for free, but by and large they make more money this way!!

    I love the many ideas that have been shared as ways to give back to one’s director for the help received….all freely given.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand this.  Didn’t Jesus ask us to give away everything if we want to follow him?  If we give it away, why would we want it back?  Spiritual Direction is a service to God.  (a) Why would any one want to receive anything in return?  and (b) how does someone put a value to it?  Really, this is why people turn their back on the Church. 

  • Marlane Peterson

    I do provide spiritual direction and when prayed about whether to take any kind of payment it was very clear to me not to do so.  The scripture passage, “what you received as a gift give as a gift” brought clarity to me regarding this issue. I also have a job and do not need the money.  I also have received spiritual direction and paid my director.  It was a great part of her lively hood and felt that it was appropriate to pay a fee.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

  • Brisa67

    In my opinion I think they should charge. Even if they don’t ask for anything we should at least give something. I think that’s the right thing to do. Thank you Dan…

  • Michelle

    I “pay” my spiritual director by praying for him, After all, I need for him to be holy so he can help me be holy, so praying for him is first and foremost on my list.  I also make a point of remembering him on special days like his feast day, his birthday or ordination anniversary.

  • Catherine Teresa, OCDS

    My short answer to this question as a trained spiritual director (who currently is not doing very much spiritual direction because I need to work 2 jobs to pay my bills and don’t want to offend anyone by asking them to pay me for spiritual direction services… and some people do get offended as we can see by this blog) is that whether or not to “charge” for spiritual direction should be up to the spiritual director.

    I don’t really understand why some people are offended that people (especially those who get no salary such as in working for a parish where spiritual direction could be considered part of the work they do) should work for free when they need to make a living. I’m very grateful, even eternally grateful, for those who have in the past offered their spiritual direction services to me (some priests, a nun, and a lay person) and not asked to be paid as I just wasn’t able to afford to pay for these … on the other hand I do understand that asking people to use their valuable time to do something for me is not something I expect them to do for free (unless the Lord puts it on their heart to donate their services in this way.)

    If there is an exception to me it might be salaried diocesan priests not charging their parishioners for spiritual direction as to me it is part of what they already get a salary for, but saying that we need to realize that many priests are overworked and do not have time to be a spiritual director to everyone who might ask so it is a discernment on their part of whether to say yes or no to any particular person and being prayerful as to whether we should give them something in gratitude.

    So as a spiritual director who has gravitated back and forth from asking for a donation, to not asking, my request is that people not judge others and allow the spiritual director to prayerfully discern what God is asking of them and not judge them. Maybe the Church has not seen fit to make a statement or laws about whether or not spiritual directors should or should not charge for a good reason as circumstances are different for different people. God may want some spiritual directors to generously donate their time and He might want others to charge (especially religious or lay people who get no salary from the parish or diocese and this is their main ministry). Personally I think we need both and I personally do not get offended if someone either is too busy to see me as a directee or says they expect a donation for their services.

    So let’s not judge others and allow it to be between them and the Lord as to how they go about their ministry and whether they feel they should ask to be paid especially since the Church in 2000 years of existence has not seen fit to define this issue.

  • Anne Mclevey

    If the Lord gives the ‘gift’ of being able to direct others in the spiritual life – surely, this is a call to a ministry/apostolate.    My husband and I taught Natural Family Planning for over 25 years and never charged a penny as we knew that the Lord called us to this apostolate and for us it was a great honour to work in His vineyard.
    A..