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Catholic Spiritual Direction

What is the difference between confession and spiritual direction?


Dear Father John, what is the difference between confession and spiritual direction? Confession and spiritual direction are like partially overlapping circles: they share some common characteristics, but their centers, their essences, are distinct. The Distinction of Confession The essence of confession is the sacramental grace that Christ gives to our soul through the ministry of his priest. When we open our hearts to him through... Read More

Penance – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

December 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Navigating, Penance/Confession, Spiritual Dictionary


PENANCE: The virtue or disposition of heart by which one repents of one’s own sins and is converted to God. Also the punishment by which one atones for sins committed, either by oneself or by others. And finally the sacrament of penance, where confessed sins committed after baptism are absolved by a priest in the name of God. This Spiritual Dictionary Term is an excerpt from the Glossary of Dan’s book Navigating the Interior... Read More

Confession, Devotional-Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

October 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Penance/Confession, Sacraments, Spiritual Dictionary


CONFESSION – DEVOTIONAL: The practice of regular confession even when one is not aware of mortal or even venial sins. This practice includes setting and keeping a specific schedule of self-examination and confession. This may also include the confession of past mortal or venial sins even if confessed previously in specific or in general. Devotional confession can also make note of imperfections though they are not sufficient... Read More

Saint Angela of Foligno and the Enlightenment of Penance

October 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Anthony Lilles, Penance/Confession


Even though she died in 1309, Saint Angela of Foligno helps us appreciate the enlightenment that can come from a life of penance.  It was a time not unlike our own. Epicureanism was destroying society even as great saints attempted to help their contemporaries see that there is so much more than the short term pleasures of the here and now.  Saint Angela started out more on the Epicurean side of this equation.   But because... Read More

Moments of Grace: Reconciling with God

August 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Liz Estler, Penance/Confession, Spiritual Direction


While working as a Chaplain Associate a few years ago, I visited “Joe” in his hospital room.  He stopped drinking about ten days before but was getting very sick.  “Drinking is stupid,” he said, “I never used to drink.  One day I had a little bit, and then a little more and then I was drinking a lot, every day.   Now, they’re doing tests and something might be wrong with my pancreas.  I have a wife and... Read More

Saint Hildegard of Bingen on Receiving Holy Communion

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At the center of the spiritual life is the real presence of Christ Jesus given to us in the Eucharistic worship He instituted for our sake.  Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church, reminds us of the proper disposition we must maintain throughout our worship.  It is a disposition of quaerere Deum, a reverent and intense seeking of God in love that takes us beyond the limit of what we can grasp by ourselves.  It is not... Read More

The Glory of Christ Crucified

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The Cross of Christ brings His glorious grace into the focus of contemplation.  It is a difficult mystery to dwell on. The heart sometimes finds itself weary and sometimes even too discouraged to fix its gaze on the agony of the Lord. This is where frequent confession and humble examination of conscience can help the practice of mental prayer – which is a humbled gaze of the heart on the mercy of God. Oftentimes, it is not... Read More

Video – Help me understand confession

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Fr. John and Dan talk about how to better understand confession. About Marta GoodwinMail | More Posts (41)  Read More →

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... Read More

Father Z’s 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession

April 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Penance/Confession, Sacraments

You and I are going to die someday. We don’t know when. When we die we will be judged. Scripture teaches, and Christ’s own words and actions make clear, that there are some sins bad enough to kill the life of grace in the soul and sever you from friendship with God. Die in that state and you will be eternally separated from God. If you think about that – eternal separation from God – which doesn’t immediately sound that... Read More

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