Seeking spiritual direction is a sign of spiritual maturity. It is a sign that one has passed the age of spiritual milk, and ready for solid food (1 Cor. 3:2). Anyone who wants to live their baptism responsibly should make spiritual direction an intrinsic part of their lives. It is the soul’s medicine, and the best way to grow in holiness.
Here are a few reasons to consider spiritual direction:
We need a coach for the race. We are familiar with Olympic champions. They take reaching the top so seriously that they would never consider attempting it without a coach. St. John Paul II related how Jan Tyranowski, a simple clerk and tailor, helped him developed his interior life and thus gave him the tools to find his purpose in life. when he became a University chaplain, John Paul II recalled how he used to go camping with the students. Through what he learned from Jan, he was able to coach them to unleash the masterpiece they are and how best to comport themselves as a result. we can become the person God wants us to be on our own.
Anyone who is serious about holiness can relate to the words of St. Augustine in The Confessions: “I longed for the chance to devote myself wholly to you, but …my two wills are in conflict and they rob my soul of all concentration” (VIII, 5:10). This pilgrim journey is a tale of twisting and turning down the road to heaven. We lose momentum at times and need help nudging toward our destiny. Our best help lies in getting someone who knows the way well. As we labor in pain waiting for the fulfillment of our hope and the glorious coming of our savior (Rom. 8:22-23), the best way to ensure we are making progress is to have a spiritual guide to keep us fit.
We all have blind spots. We all have biases. Anyone who has tried to be truly honest with him- or herself knows how difficult that is. None of us sees ourselves as we truly are. Most often we think we are better than we actually are, although sometimes we sell ourselves short. There are times we even lie to ourselves. How do we discover ourselves as we truly are? Sunday homilies are helpful, but clearly insufficient when it comes to specifics. The confessional is not the place to deal with topics that takes great amount of time. Friends are often afraid to offend us. Spiritual directors can put the mirror before us and enable us to face reality. Seeing ourselves as we truly are opens the door to real spiritual growth.
We are all wounded. GK. Chesterton captures well the reality of our lives in this world this way: “we’re all in one boat, and we’re all seasick.” The reality is we are all cracked and bruised and in need of repair. There are things in our past that hurt so deeply, we don’t even want to talk about them yet those are precisely what we need to talk about. Some things, of which we might not be aware, restrain our interior peace. Unless we allow the soothing touch of Christ to reach into our brokenness, we remain wounded. Only through regular spiritual direction can we recognize these wounds and be to heal.
How do we locate a good spiritual director? The same way we locate a good physician – we ask others. You can start by asking your pastor for recommendations. Pray to the Holy Spirit to lead you to one that fits your needs. Religious houses like seminaries, convents, or priories usually have qualified directors. Try to get a trained spiritual director, if possible. A learned, experienced, and holy priest is the ideal director. Even the saints have complained how difficult it is to find a suitable one, so persevere! In the meantime, get someone.