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What happens at spiritual direction sessions?

August 22, 2012

“Spiritual direction is a conversation between a director and someone who wants to grow in the Christian life. Convinced that the Spirit lives in us, as well as in all creation, the director and directee (the person being directed) attend to God’s many manifestations: Where is God in my desire to quit my job, or in my struggle with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? Am I being called to take a more courageous stand on justice issues? What is the meaning of this darkness I encounter in my prayer? “My director is so good at listening deeply, helping me to express what’s trying to hide,” said one ministry student. “I’m better now at allowing my life to unfold in God’s time.”

The term direction suggests that one person tells another what to believe or how to act, but a spiritual director helps others freely name what God is doing in their lives and shape their own response. To distinguish this kind of companionship from a more authoritarian approach, some prefer the term spiritual guide or soul friend. A young attorney highlights the difference: “My spiritual guide doesn’t operate like the directors of my firm, who always try to impose their own agendas on me. Instead, he helped me recognize how much I want to know Christ, then suggested I try the Jesus Prayer. Now I say it often, and it anchors me when life gets especially hectic.”

Spiritual direction is an honored practice whose roots lie deep in the Catholic tradition. Scholars usually trace its beginnings to the fourth-century desert fathers and mothers. In the rugged setting of the Egyptian desert, both new and established Christians sought guidance from those considered more experienced or holy.” –Kathleen Fischer in Is Spiritual Direction Right for You?

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