Spiritual direction generally is a catch all phrase to describe a sacred conversation between a spiritual director and a directee, i.e. the person seeking spiritual direction. The word ‘direction’ can be misleading since it seems to imply that the spiritual director ‘tells’ the directee what she or he should do in order to deepen their personal relationship with God.
In essence, spiritual direction is a ministry of holy listening, on the part of the director; to listen to what is happening between God, through the Holy Spirit and the directee, and to ask the right questions which will allow the directee to go deeper, plus to possibly introduce material for the directee to reflect upon.
Spiritual direction can take on several forms:
- Ongoing spiritual direction can be for someone who has embraced the spiritual exercises as laid out by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It can also be a pathway as one tries to find meaning in their personal suffering history with questions like “God where were you when……?
- On a “when desired basis”, this is when a directee makes an appointment for spiritual guidance when they desire it. It also can be a one-time appointment.
Spiritual direction should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation or Fifth Step in 12-Step programs like A.A. since they are meant for a person to reveal, confidentially, their short comings; however, it can be the steppingstone to further spiritual direction.
Lastly, it is utmost important that a directee feels safe and comfortable with a given spiritual director since it is sacred conversation where personal vulnerabilities will be exposed.
Fr. Henk van Meijel S.J.