a Ministry of Spiritual Companionship
We all need companions on our faith journeys, people who can assist us in seeing where and how the Spirit may be moving in our lives and inviting our growth. Meeting with a spiritual director is an invaluable opportunity to share one’s journey with another person committed to spiritual growth, who can help us honor the uniqueness of our relationship with God...
The director comes to the session without an agenda and listens attentively, not only to what the person shares aloud, but also beyond the words to “the heart of the matter.” Through this supportive listening, the spiritual director endeavors to encourage the seeker’s growth in trusting the voice of the Holy One within them, and in recognizing their own inherent holiness/wholeness.
Spiritual directors do not direct as much as they provide a safe space for individuals to share their stories and access their own inner wisdom. As individuals find their voice and share their story, the spiritual director serves as a compassionate, non-judgmental presence. Likewise, spiritual directors do not give advice or solve problems, distinguishing spiritual direction from counseling or therapy.
Anyone may benefit from spiritual direction. One need not be part of a particular religious tradition—or be connected with any faith community at all—to participate in spiritual direction. People of all backgrounds and life situations have found spiritual direction to be a powerful ally in exploring their connections with the Holy. All human beings are spiritual seekers, in one way or another, and all are Beloved of God.
– Donald J. Goergen, Fire of Love: Encountering the Holy Spirit
A Few Questions that might be explored in Spiritual Direction…
What is mine to do at this time in my life? How is Spirit inviting me to grow?
How is my prayer/spiritual life shifting at present? Why is the way that I have prayed for a long time no longer satisfying or life-giving for me?
How am I being invited to greater freedom, joy, and more depth in my relationship with the Holy One?
Who is God for me now? How is my understanding of God changing?
How am I aware—or not aware—of Love’s presence in all of my life—prayer, life choices, work, ministry, relationships, crises, challenges, memories, dreams . . . ?
What path am I being invited to take in my journey at this time?
How do I discern how Loving Presence is moving in my life?
How do I more fully integrate my spirituality into my daily life? How do I express my love for God in all my relationships?
What is the rhythm of contemplation and action in my life?
What is breaking my heart open these days?
Connecting with a Spiritual Director—Your Preferences
Choosing someone to accompany you in your spiritual journey requires prayer, time, and discernment. It is good to begin your search with prayer, asking Spirit to guide you and open your heart to discern who will be a fitting companion for you. You can speak with friends, religious leaders and pastoral ministers—as well as contacting retreat centers and religious communities—for suggestions on who is available for spiritual direction. Another good source of information is the organization Spiritual Directors International. By going to their website, www.sdicompanions.org, and clicking on the “Find a Spiritual Companion Guide,” you can locate spiritual directors and learn more about those serving in this ministry...
When you have found someone with whom you would like to meet for spiritual direction, you can contact them to check on their availability. Feel free to ask them questions such as how long they have been serving as a spiritual director, when and where they meet with people for spiritual direction, what the suggested offering is for such meetings, and any other questions that are important to you.
For some seekers, it is important to meet with a spiritual director who is a member of their faith community; for others, meeting with someone of the same gender, or someone who is married or ordained, is essential. All of these preferences are important for you to ponder as you begin your search for a spiritual director.
Many people choose to meet for spiritual direction once a month, but there is no pre-determined schedule for spiritual direction sessions. The frequency of spiritual direction may vary with what is happening in your life at a particular time. For example, those who are immersed in a particularly intense or challenging period of their lives may choose to meet more frequently. Others may choose to meet less frequently for a variety of reasons. Feel free to discuss your preferences with your spiritual director.
Spiritual direction typically takes place in person, in a quiet, confidential setting. When circumstances make face-to-face meetings challenging, one can “meet” via phone, Skype, Zoom, or another means.
People on Retreat at Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey
A person on retreat might choose to meet with someone for spiritual direction every day, or have an initial meeting at the beginning of their retreat and another meeting toward the end of their retreat. Others may prefer to meet as the Spirit guides them during the flow of the retreat, while others will choose to forgo spiritual direction altogether. Each individual is free to choose whatever is most helpful for them. (It is good to inquire about the availability of spiritual direction when you are making your reservation to stay at the Abbey)…
Spiritual directors, whether laypeople or members of religious communities, often rely on income from their ministry to support themselves and others. Most spiritual directors are happy to discuss an appropriate offering for their ministry with those who seek their direction. Many spiritual directors use a sliding scale so that everyone, regardless of financial resources, is able to benefit from spiritual direction. For example, a spiritual director may suggest a donation of $40.00-$50.00 per session with the understanding that whatever is doable for the individual is acceptable for the director.
Janet Ruffing, RSM