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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 10 Dec 2001

Spiritual Director needed! QUESTION from Karen June 12, 2000 Dear Brother John-Paul,
I would appreciate your insight regarding finding a confessor/spiritual director. I have tried out the confessionals in the churches within an hour drive from our home. I feel discouraged with the assembly line feeling I've come away with from each experience. While I fully understand the time constraints & tremendous responsibilities of our dwindling number of priests, I am concerned about the state of my soul! I guess I'm looking for more than the have your blood pressure checked, say 1 Pater and have a nice day response. (I don't think I'm the scrupulous sort, probably the opposite!) I'm learning a lot from reading (Ignatius of Loyola, de Sales, Teresa of Avila) but too much of that is over my head. How might I find a straight-forward, firm, holy spiritual director? Should I contact local religious orders? Is there a better way to approach a priest? What options are there? I'm sorry for the open-ended question. I trust you will provide your (usual) emphatic advice! I'm thankful for all the information you've provided in your forums, and for the particularly clear (read *blunt*) way you make your point. I don't want a watered-down, feel good answer...I want to know how to be a saint! (Especially since my efforts on my own are falling VERY short of that mark.) God bless!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on July 5, 2000 Dear Miss Karen:
Me, blunt? nawwwwww...
The first thought that comes to mind is that a spiritual director does NOT have to be your confessor. If you are having a hard time finding a confessor/director, then consider finding a spiritual director SEPARATE from the confessor. Thus, while the confessions might still be assembly line to you, you need not expect more from them than the sacramental absolution they provide. (and don't underestimate that all by itself).
Then look for another person, who need not be a priest, for a spiritual director.
Yes, you may look toward religious orders and retreat centers, but be VERY careful especially with retreat centers, and frankly most monasteries these days. The sulphurous smoke of liberalism has creeped into many if not most of our monasteries, and almost all of the retreat centers.
The other problem is that Spiritual Directors today seem to be mostly whimps. They use what could be called a non-directive method of direction.
The method of direction that made saints out of sinners was a directive method. To put it into your words, this is the type that give straight-forward, firm, holy spiritual direction. But these are RARE indeed.
It is rare to find a good Spiritual Director at all, it is even harder to find the straight-forward types.
I would recommend the book by Father Thomas DuBay, Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within
That link will take you to Amazon Books to purchase it if you want. We get a referral fee if you buy it through us.
This book will give you details on what to look for in a Spiritual Director and what to do if you can't find one.
There is also the possibility of Spiritual Director long distance. Many of the saints wrote letters to their spiritual directors. These letters would take months to be delivered.
Today, snail mail is usually delivered within 4 days, and email is delivered instantly. Plus on can talk over the Internet life like a telephone without long distance charges.
I am a member of the American Counseling Association, among other professional associations. The ACA has an entire project devoted to the pros and cons of Internet Counseling. I will be researching their material and adopting their ethics statement for Internet Counseling.
As more and more counselors and spiritual directors get involved in the Internet, this may be more of an option.
I have already done Internet Spiritual Director to those outside the membership of the Legion of St. Michael, to a limited degree, and got my rear burnt. But perhaps what I learn from the ACA material will make it safer to get back into the water.
My biggest problem in taking on people for spiritual direction is time. That age old problem.

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