At one time (and perhaps in the minds of many people still today), spiritual direction was considered something reserved for the “spiritual elite” – priests and religious. Today, more and more lay people are discovering the value of spiritual direction. I’ve been seeing a spiritual director for about 5 years now and find it extremely enriching. At a recent presentation I was giving, I asked catechists what they are doing for their own ongoing spiritual enrichment and, in addition to those who are reading, doing study, and attending workshops and seminars, 2 catechists mentioned that they see a spiritual director.
Spiritual direction is not therapy. Nor is it some type of rigorous regimen of monastic prayer practices or some esoteric experience. It is simply a matter of talking with a companion about your life experiences with an eye for recognizing God’s grace in the midst of it. Here is a good article about spiritual direction with many helpful links.
Yesterday, the Holy Father made a pitch for spiritual direction saying that everyone, including lay people, should have a spiritual director to help them in the Christian life.
Might I suggest that catechists be at the forefront of this growing movement? Our vocation is perfectly suited for this time-honored Christian practice.
How does one find a spiritual director? The Website for Spiritual Directors International offers a Seek and Find Guide. Also, many retreat centers offer spiritual direction. Here is an interactive map of Jesuit retreat centers in the United States as well as another directory of spiritual retreat centers.
Any other catechists out there in spiritual direction? Any other recommendations for how to find a spiritual director?
As part of my contract with St. Dominic’s parish, the parish covers half of the cost of my spiritual direction. The pastor insisted that all people working in ministry needed this service. It’s been wonderful. They also pay for a week of retreat time, which really helps to invigorate my ministry.
On my “catechist’s journey”, I’ve encountered several people that have recommended a spiritual director. Can I ask how you found your spiritual director? Did you end up with the first person you talked to? I would think that chemistry between the two people is very important.
Thanks for mentioning this on the blog. I’m sensing that I don’t realize how important spiritual direction is unti l I’m utilizing it.
Hi Greg, my spiritual director actually introduced herself to me after a talk I had given about taking care of yourself spiritually. I told her I had been thinking about going to spiritual direction and she said that it must have been the Holy Spirit that nudged her to introduce herself to me. I started going and haven’t looked back.
I’ve had a spiritual director for about 7 years now and I was fortunate enough to have this ministry available in our parish. I also had a pastor who wasn’t afraid to suggest that I might benefit by checking it out. When I started spiritual direction, I began with alot of questions and concerns about the church; and see what happened…now I’m a catachist! It really has helped me to grow in my faith and to be able to see God at work in my everyday life.
Hi Diane, thanks for sharing your story. Glad to hear that you’re being enriched by spiritual direction.
It bothers me that many, in not most, spiritual directors in my part of the world (New York area) expect to be paid an hourly fee. Is this normal? Somehow, I don’t think priests and nuns should be paid on an hourly basis. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t ask for payment and I certainly am not paid for being a catechist, nor do I want to be.
Pete, thanks for your comment. I pay my spiritual director a set fee per month. This is quite normal and the fees are usually quite nominal. As a catechist, our ministry is supported financially by the parish we serve (through the donations of parishioners). Sometimes, parishes offer spiritual direction as part of their mission and are able to do so without charging because they can rely on parish income. However, many spiritual directors often either work independently or for a retreat center which is supported solely by fees charged for the services they offer. It is not the equivalent of paying someone in some kind of private practice who is seeking to not only cover costs but to make a profit. It is simply offering financial support for religious organizations or individuals who provide ministry while having few if any other sources of income. Think of it less as a fee and more as a donation.
Sorry Joe, but our (wealthy) parish does not provide remuneration to catechists for spiritual direction, and the going rate for spiritual direction seems to be in the neighborhood of $75-$100/hour. That is not a donation. Some people seem to be making a career out of spiritual direction. Again, I don’t think Jesus would do that. Because I give a lot of time to the Church I don’t make as much as I otherwise might (I’m self-employed), and I can’t afford such fees.
Pete, I understand what you’re saying. I would encourage you to look around for other opportunities for spiritual direction that may be available for a lesser cost or no cost at all from various retreat centers or other resources that your diocese may be able to refer you to.