Spiritual Direction (SD) is help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him/her; to respond to this personally communicating God; to grow in intimacy with this God; and to live out the consequences of the relationship.
SD is a relationship of friendship in which one person helps another to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit/Word of God. ‘The only prerequisite for engaging …..[in SD] is that the person being directed have affective experiences of God which he/she notices and which he/she can talk about with a director.’ ‘our view of SD puts primary focus on experiences of God, most often occurring in prayer. The SD is most interested in what happens when a person consciously puts himself into the presence of God.’
Barry and Connolly
It is because a priest has time for prayer, study and reflection that his guidance of those in the world’s hurly burly is likely to be worth having.
SD is a conversation in which a person seeks to answer the question, ‘What is spiritual growth and how do I foster it in my life.?’ The exchanges that comprise a spiritual relationship focus on awareness of and response to God in one’s life. But since God is the deepest dimension of all experience, the conversation will range over every area of existence. SD concerns the movement of our entire lives in and toward God.
SDs and gurus have always been listeners, but the language to which they listen is the ‘forgotten language’ of myths and dreams and symbols, the language of the fundamental human experience.’ Kathleen Fischer. ‘Christian SD, then, is an interpersonal helping relationship, rooted in the church’s ministry of pastoral care. In this relationship, one Christian assists another to discover and live out in the context of the Christian community his or her deepest values and life goals in response to God’s initiative and the biblical mandate.
Whether or not one is aware of it, God is constantly engaged with the human heart. God is present, inviting, cajoling, challenging, enabling, always loving persons to be who they are lovers at home in Love. At some point in the spiritual journey we are awakened to this love affair and the subsequent choice to claim the primacy of love in our lives. For some this may show itself as an insatiable passion for truth or for justice, for others it may be a deep reverence for beauty, and still for others it may appear as the drawing of the heart to compassionate service. Others may sense only that beneath the pain, the joy, the complacency of their lives there is a Reality which can no longer be ignored. However this longing shows itself, it is ultimately a longing for God. This longing for God is the bedrock of the spiritual life and of spiritual direction. The dynamics of SD begins with an invitation from God to be together. The directee assumes responsibility for their life with God. God gifts each person through the presence of the other. Both pray for each other outside their meetings. Importance of the place of silence. What draws people to SD is a reciprocity of desire. Having been touched by God’s desire, they want to make their desire for God the determining factor of all of their choices, and they recognise that they need some help to do this.
Rose Mary Dougherty
I shall try to the best of my ability, not so much to show you something, as to search with you…..with the help of God and your prayers.
You don’t pull no punches, but you don’t push the river