CARF Foundation

30 June, 22

Spiritual direction: Who is the spiritual director and why do I need one?

With the help of a spiritual director, we can walk steadily in the following of Christ. And like the rich young ruler in the Gospel, we ask Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Each person is a different world with his or her own stories and life experiences. God has a specific plan for each one.

Spiritual direction, or spiritual accompaniment, contributes to the growth process of each Christian in his or her condition of son or daughter of God the Father in Christ through the Holy Spirit; helping to discover with joy the figure and love of Christ and what his following calls for.

What is Catholic spiritual direction?

"On the path of the spiritual life, do not rely on yourselves, but, with simplicity and docility, ask advice and accept the help of those who, with wise moderation, can guide your soul, point out the dangers, suggest the appropriate remedies, and in all internal and external difficulties can direct you rightly and direct you..."
Pope Pius XII, Apostolic Exhortation Menti nostrae, 27

Spiritual direction or spiritual accompaniment seeks the orientation of the interior life and the exercise of the devout virtues so that each Christian may know how to carry out his daily tasks as a service to God and to his neighbor.  Without conditioning the secular and free nature of these same tasks, for which only the person concerned is fully responsible, like any other citizen. Its purpose is exclusively spiritual.

The objective of the spiritual direction consists primarily in helping you to discern the signs of the will of God with the help of the advice of someone more experienced in the spiritual life: the spiritual director.

The figure of the spiritual director is very ancient in the life of the Church. In a broad and generic sense, it can be traced back to Jesus Christ himself and to the apostolic era, although throughout the history of the Church it has been enriched.

It should be kept in mind that spiritual direction is complementary to other activities of Catholic formation and catechesis of a more collective nature.

Why do I need a spiritual director?

"It would not occur to you to build a good house to live in on earth without consulting an architect. How do you want to raise without a spiritual Director the fortress of your sanctification to live eternally in heaven?"
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

It is very difficult for anyone to guide himself in the spiritual life. So many times the lack of objectivity with which we see ourselves, self-love, the tendency to let ourselves be carried away by what we like the most, or what is easier for us, blur the path that leads to God.

In the spiritual director, we see that person, who knows God's way well. To whom we open our souls and to whom we exercise as master of the things that refer to God.

In Opus Dei, in particular, the importance of spiritual direction has been stressed from the beginning as a decisive means of personal formation and as a help offered to all those who approach its apostolates. The genuinely secular spirit of this personal prelature of the Catholic Church means that in the exercise of spiritual direction, the freedom and personal responsibility of each person in his or her professional, social and political spheres, as well as in his or her personal life, is particularly emphasized. family.

Characteristics of the spiritual director

"...The role of the master spiritual consists in supporting the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul and giving peace, in view of the gift of self and apostolic fruitfulness".
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

There are three fundamental qualities for the spiritual director as defined by St. Francis de Sales:

  • Charity which consists of to dispense time to attend to to the person in need of direction.
  • Science because it requires spiritual knowledge, study on the life of the saints and on the realities of the soulThe purpose of this program is precisely to identify the intimate issues that the person is experiencing and to discern which path to follow.
  • Prudence is also necessary so that the spiritual direction does not become a mere deal. of two friends who share something.

Y Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer adds "...the counsels of spiritual direction serve to enlighten the intelligence, strengthen freedom. At times, this transmission of the truth will be done with fortitude. True refinement and true charity require getting to the marrow, even if it costs: always with delicacy and respecting the rhythms that are proper to each person".

"...He shall be characterized by being always positive and motivating. Motivation is the seed of perseverance; it is in it that perseverance is really gestated. Motivation leads to love, and love is the foundation of life, of availability and generosity..."

"...Demand and motivation go hand in hand. Whoever wants to demand, must know how to motivate, and never demand without having motivated, otherwise the spiritual direction will fall on deaf ears".

how to make a good spiritual direction. Where to find a Spiritual Director

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find." St. Matthew 7:7-12.

To find a Spiritual Director you can go to parishes or Catholic movements. Start by going to confession to some of their priests and ask their advice progressively.

How to make a good spiritual direction?

"The task of spiritual direction must be guided not by dedicating oneself to the production of creatures who lack their own judgment and who limit themselves to carrying out materially what someone else tells them; on the contrary, spiritual direction must tend to form persons of judgment. And the criterion supposes maturity, firmness of convictions, sufficient knowledge of the doctrine, delicacy of spirit, education of the will".
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

If we want our spiritual direction to be enriching and not be reduced to a simple relief, isolated advice or the formal fulfillment of a commitment, it must have a series of characteristics:

  • PeriodicalOur sanctification does not happen overnight; God conquers and transforms us little by little.
  • Motivating and demanding: It will nourish trust in God's mercy. Motivation is related to perseverance and leads to love which is the foundation of Christian life, availability and generosity.
  • Deep: "...make spiritual direction a work in depth to get down to the conscience and the basic attitudes of the person being directed, and help him/her to internalize the values and principles of his/her Christian life and to make effective and lasting decisions" DSIC
  • Cordiality and friendliness: It will transmit confidence.
  • Concrete: Spiritual dialogue should focus on the spiritual life and the concerns and problems of the person being helped spiritually.

What to talk about with your spiritual director?

"Faith and vocation as Christians affect our whole existence, and not just a part of it."Therefore, it is related to family life, work, rest, social life, politics, etc.
Although spiritual direction does not deal immediately with these areas, it should offer light and advice so that each person, with freedom and responsibility, secure in the Catholic faith and morals, can make informed decisions and allow the light of God to illuminate his or her whole life.
From this perspective spiritual direction aims to promote the development of "unity of life" which leads one to seek and love God in everything, and to live one's whole existence with an awareness of the mission that the Christian vocation implies."
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

In spiritual direction, St. Josemaría advises us to always address three points necessary for true spiritual progress:

  1. Faith: which refers to the apostolic doctrine
  2. Purity: Receiving the Eucharist frequently helps us to have a clean look. Communion, a transcendental moment of all our lives. parts of the Mass.
  3. Vocation: is linked to the prayerThe response to the Word of God that calls is essential to be faithful to one's vocation.

This trilogy can be related to what the Acts of the Apostles tell us, describing the life and perseverance of the early Christians "in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.".

Attitude for good Catholic spiritual direction

"You are well aware of the obligations of your Christian journey, which will lead you slowly and calmly to holiness; you are also well aware of the difficulties, practically all of them, because they can be glimpsed from the very beginning of the journey. Now I insist that you allow yourselves to be helped and guided by a director of souls, to whom you entrust all your holy illusions and the daily problems that affect your interior life, the setbacks you suffer and the victories.
In this spiritual direction, always show yourselves to be very sincere: do not grant yourselves anything without saying so, open your soul completely, without fear or shame. Be aware that, if you do not, this path, so flat and winding, becomes entangled, and what at first was nothing, ends up becoming a knot that suffocates...."
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

Spiritual direction requires, in the persons who receive it, the desire to progress in the following of Christ. The one who is spiritually accompanied must have an attitude of openness to help.

By turning to spiritual direction, to support the action of the Holy Spirit In order to grow spiritually and identify ourselves with Christ, we must cultivate the virtues of sincerity and docility, which summarize the attitude of the believing soul before the Paraclete.

  • Spirit of initiative.
  • Desire to progress in the following of Christ.
  • Virtues of sincerity and docility.

This is how St. Josemaría described this recommendation, addressing all the faithful, whether they belong to the Work or not.

"The function of the spiritual director is to open horizons, to help in the formation of criteria, to point out the obstacles, to indicate the adequate means to overcome them, to correct the deformations or deviations of the march, to always encourage: without ever losing the supernatural point of view, which is an optimistic affirmation, because every Christian can say that he can do everything with divine help..."
Saint Josemaría Escrivá

How often do you talk to your spiritual director?

God conquers and transforms us little by little. We have already mentioned the importance of constancy. An isolated work can perhaps give a little push, but it does not leave a deep mark. For this reason It is essential to follow spiritual direction periodically in order to shape with patience and perseverance the path God has laid out for our life.

Pray for your spiritual director

You can praying for priests who leads so many souls in spiritual direction. Pray personally for the one who directs your soul, who advises you in different situations, for the gift of wisdom is found in him. You can also make a prayer Prayer for priestly vocations so that someday, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they may also be spiritual directors.

May God favor you in this desire to grow spiritually and mature in faith. May the Lord provide you with a spiritual director so that you may truly commit to a process of spiritual growth and maturity.

With the collaboration of:

Social Doctrine of the Church
Carta pastoral del 2-X-2011 en la que Mons. Javier Echevarría
«Dirección espiritual». Diccionario de San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer


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