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 downside?
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 a discussion about our sins in the context of a confession than it is with a layperson. The final point worth noting here is that good confessors often make good spiritual directors.
The downside 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
Art for this post on whether one’s confessor and spiritual director should be the same person: Interior Scene [Confession], Jean Alphonse Roehn (1799-1864), unknown date, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons.