My Spiritual Director Hasn’t Seen Me ~
I Need His Counsel: What Now?
Dear Father John, My spiritual director is also my parish priest. I have been seeing him for several years. I have been very displeased with how things have been going lately. In his defense he has made it clear that most parish priests don’t take on spiritual directees because they don’t have a lot of time to give spiritual direction. However, it’s been going on a month and a half now that I’ve asked him to let me know when he has time to get together and we’ve yet to connect on a time. I have been considering ‘firing’ him as my spiritual director but that’s not a move I’m ready to make yet. It’s very difficult because there is a job I am considering applying for that would be a big move for me and I would like his input.
I can feel the interior tension and pain that the situation has caused you. By now, you may have already reached a resolution. But in case you haven’t, here are some thoughts for you.
The Limits of Spiritual Direction
First of all, there are no perfect priests, and no perfect spiritual directors. That has to be the starting point. Understanding the role that spiritual direction is supposed to play in our lives helps us considerably in our effort to accept the imperfections of our spiritual director. Spiritual direction is not meant to be the solution to all of our difficulties. It is one means among numerous others that God uses in order to help guide us along the path of growing in holiness. So as you consider whether to continue meeting with your current director or looking for another, please take that into account. I would encourage you to make sure you are utilizing all the other means at your disposal, and keeping spiritual direction in its proper place, before making any definitive decisions. It may be useful for you to review the nature and purpose of spiritual direction, the qualities of a good spiritual director, and the other normal means for spiritual growth – especially, in your case, discerning the will of God. We have multiple posts for each of those topics here on our blog, just search for those topics and/or click here for a listing of posts on the spiritual direction process itself. But if you prefer book form, I recommend getting a copy of “Navigating the Interior Life” by Daniel Burke.
Healthy Supplements to Spiritual Direction
Also, it’s important to remember that having a spiritual director isn’t meant to keep us from going to other sources for good advice about specific issues. You can always seek another point of view, maybe from a confessor at a shrine or retreat center nearby, or from a retired priest who may be able to listen to you and give some advice. It’s unadvisable to have multiple spiritual directors at the same time, or to jump around from spiritual director to spiritual director, since that would indicate a subconscious unwillingness to actually receive direction that may go against one’s natural preferences. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get advice about specific issues from other sources, from experts and wise people – doing so is part of the virtue of prudence.
As regards your job decision, if you have time still before you need to make a final choice, you may also want to read Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s book called “Discerning the Will of God.” He explains the steps of discernment as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola, with lots of real world examples. It really may help you.
Well, I know this won’t solve all your difficulties, but I hope it helps at least a little bit. Count on my prayers.
In Him, Fr. John
Art: Ein ernstes Gespräch (A Serious Conversation), Ludwig Johann Passini, by 1903, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.