Blog Template Theology of the Body: Vocatum Retrospect I: Spiritual Direction

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vocatum Retrospect I: Spiritual Direction

This was our most popular post in November of 2005.

YOU DESPERATELY NEED A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR... These are the words of the dynamic and amazing Congregationalist Professor John Reist. He was right.

Fr. Paul Helfrich of The Brotherhood of Hope (a community of spiritual directors) agrees: "every believer has the right to be accompanied."

Spiritual Direction is the old monastic practice of mutual submission and guidance between Christians with regard to their prayer lives (think also, Scripturally, of Samuel and David in the OT... Blessed Mary running straight to Elizabeth after hearing The News... all of the care St. Paul devoted to his apostolic charges... the list goes on). It's now Rather Trendy. Anyone who finds a spiritual director commits to the huge privilege of plopping down in his Director's company at regular times to unveil the secrets and quandries and questions of his prayer life, vocational discernment process, and moral life. It's wonderful. It is not "having an accountability partner," nor is it the "headship" which gets tossed around in various Charismatic circles; rather, it is spiritual self-disclosure to one who is trained to listen capably, prayerfully, and reflectively, and who has a modicum of authority to suggest What You Should Do With Yourself.

I have had a spiritual director for the past four years, and I don't really know how I survived without one prior.

What you should all do: scurry off and find a good Dominican to be your spiritual director. They will probably take you, whoever you are. Otherwise, note that the Episcopalians have a really rich and expansive tradition of this sort of thing, although you have to find one who will still confess the Creed in its entirety. Methodists do spiritual direction really well. If you are a real Protestant, then you must be careful- say that you are looking for a "mentor" or someone to "disciple you" or something equally non-hierarchical, or They May Think You Are Nuts. (In general, they say that pastoral ability in the director is more important for good spiritual direction than intelligence or orthodoxy.)

So, who has a spiritual director? And if not, why not, for Pete's sake?