Based on a good number of comments and poll responses over the past year, apprehension is a recurring obstacle to seeking spiritual direction. More than 500 of you have indicated that you desire, but are not yet in a spiritual direction relationship. All those who desire but do not yet have a spiritual director are in the same position – one of vulnerability. The following is an overview of common struggles and insights that you might find helpful in your quest:
- The area of our lives that is most important to us (our faith) is at a place where we obviously need help in order to grow. This can be a difficult and sensitive admission – especially for men.
- As committed Catholics, we typically hold priests in high esteem and struggle with the idea of encroaching on their already busy schedule.
- We are concerned that the relationship with the potential spiritual director remain positive and healthy (particularly if he is our parish priest).
- The process and nature of spiritual growth is an unknown. It is similar to heading into a fog – we are compelled to keep moving – but we don’t know what will come of our decision to continue forward.
- Some of us are worried about the orthodoxy of those who might be available to help us. We want competent guides and are worried that we might be led astray by those who are not faithful to the Church’s teachings and/or who are influenced by new-age or eastern spirituality.
Facing the Challenge
All of these, and many other factors make us hesitant to pursue spiritual direction. As well, St. Teresa of Avila clearly warns us that those seeking to deepen their spiritual lives will find a great many obstacles in their way. The enemy of our souls dreads nothing more than one who is fully immersed in Christ. We must be clear and resolute about our need for Christ and the critical assistance that spiritual direction provides us in knowing and following Him.
So, the first question is one of motivation. Are you ready to suffer whatever discomfort you may feel for the greater end of finding peace of soul and living life according to your ultimate purpose? If your answer to this question is, “yes,” then half the battle is already over. Be encouraged – you are unique in this world. God is calling you to Him, and you are listening. The rest is mere practicality and perspective. Here are a few basic ways to overcome these inhibiting emotions and issues:
Basic Steps in the Right Direction
1) Increase your knowledge and understanding of the spiritual direction process. Read the spiritual direction posts on this site and/or Father Dubay’s book and gain the vocabulary and perspective necessary to converse comfortably on the topic.
2) If you are concerned about the faithfulness or perspective of a particular priest, review the posts on this topic to better prepare you to deal with this difficulty.
3) Recognize that the care of souls, as with spiritual direction, is central to the call of a priest. Any good priest will be encouraged to discover and work with a soul committed to follow Christ.
4) Approach the spiritual director’s busy schedule with a practical respect.
In our next post we will talk specifically about how to approach getting the first meeting setup.
By the way, if I have missed any of the big items of concern or struggle on your list, or if there are others you would like to share, please do so in your comments on this post.
Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him
Art for this post on approaching a spiritual director: Santi Antonio Abate E Paolo (St Antony The Abbott And St Paul), Girolamo Savoldo, circa 1515, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.