Claire Dwyer, editor of spiritualdirection.com, discusses how to find a spiritual director.
Claire begins by defining spiritual direction for those who may be unfamiliar. “Spiritual direction is a relationship between a director and a directee that’s focused on the directee and the work of God in their life. In fact, we like to say that the spiritual director is actually the Holy Spirit. The primary relationship is between God and the directee, not between the two people, but the director’s job is to help them listen to what the Holy Spirit and what the Lord are saying in their life, and keep them accountable to some spiritual practices.”
“We are often asked if everyone needs a spiritual director,” Claire continues. “My answer to that is if you are just beginning your spiritual journey and trying to establish some basic practices of prayer and sacramental life, you probably don’t need a spiritual director yet. You probably need a mentor or some friendships that are going to keep you on the path, but if you continue in the journey of holiness that we’re all called to, [spiritual direction] is a super helpful practice to have.”
Claire encourages those looking for a spiritual director to start with prayer, and then ask their parish pastor for guidance. “If your pastor has any leads, that’s the first place to follow up with. Don’t be afraid to ask for some temporary direction for a few weeks or while you’re making a decision. It’s a little less intimidating for him to say yes to something that has an end point. You can also look for recommendations from people that you know and trust. You can be creative and think outside the box a little bit. Priests working at at a Newman center or as a chaplain of a hospital, or a retired priest might have more time for spiritual direction.”
While some people feel that clergy are the only ones qualified to give spiritual direction, there are a growing number of places in the Church that are forming lay people to give spiritual direction. “In fact, I’m in formation for that myself,” Claire says. “Pope Francis has actually encouraged people to look for lay spiritual directors because there is a charism for that. There are certain schools of spiritual direction that you could contact and they will have graduates of their schools, maybe even in your area, that they could connect you to.”
“Find a good person that you feel is trustworthy, who is far enough ahead in their own journey that they can guide and lead you. If you are familiar with a certain saint or you feel particularly drawn to a certain religious tradition in the Church, for example, you have a special affinity for St. Francis and all things Franciscan, maybe there is a Franciscan order in your diocese that you can contact. That goes back to prayer. Ask the Lord, ‘What do you have for me?’ And just trust that he will guide you and lead you. If you’re receptive to his movements, then he’ll find the perfect fit for you eventually.” Original Air 9-22-21