Should I ask my spiritual director (a priest) to also be my confessor?
Dear Becky, I have a question for you. I have a priest spiritual director that I usually travel more than an hour to see every month. I go to confession weekly and am wondering if it would be best to see the same priest for confession for continuity, etc. Before my spiritual director relocated, I most often saw him for confession because it worked out that way, and, I believe it was God who arranged it that way. Would it be appropriate to ask my spiritual director to also provide confession when we meet?
The fact that you are receiving the sacrament of reconciliation weekly, and are traveling a good distance to see your spiritual director each month shows that you are serious about becoming holy. Keep up the good work!
The short answer to your question is that it can’t hurt to ask. We need to be considerate of our priests’ time, yet also remember that they became priests to help us to heaven.
Your concern for continuity shows that you understand the value of developing an ongoing relationship with your confessor, this is good. And since we confess our sins, not to the priest, but to Jesus via the priest, receiving spiritual direction at this time is a very good idea.
Going to confession and receiving spiritual direction at the same time is a huge blessing. There is special grace here because of the sacramental nature of confession, and it saves you from having to repeat or explain your struggles to your spiritual director when you see him each month. If you have a good priest who can provide at the same time, both confession and sound spiritual direction, you are very blessed; this would be the optimal situation.
I can only assume from your question that the physical distance between you and your director has prevented you from seeing him more often.
That said, a few questions come to mind that you should discuss with your director:
First, does your spiritual director have the time/flexibility to see you more frequently? If he does, do you have the means (time and cost of transportation), to make that trip more often? If not, you might want to alternate confession time (local for three weeks, then once a month with your priest/spiritual director).
Second, are you at a place where you can safely reduce the frequency of your confessions? If you are at a stage where you are not often tempted to mortal sin, it might be prudent to exchange frequent confessions for fewer that are more fruitful. You would, of course, still have the ability to make a confession with a local priest as needed.
That you believe God arranged for you to have this specific priest as your confessor is probably a reliable instinct. If you think about it, having one person who sees the ‘whole’ of our spiritual life makes good sense. God knows what is best for us, and as we progress on the journey of the soul He may guide us to modify some practices in order to develop new ones.
Your spiritual director will be able to give you advice tailor made for your situation. Talk this over with him as appropriate matter for spiritual direction discussion.
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