What Is A Spiritual Director and Why Should We Have One Now?
The question is: What is a spiritual director? However, even by asking that question, we can easily tell that we indeed need some guidance in this area.
What is our most important job here on earth? Many of us will say their occupation is but are they correct? Of course not, just as surely as I am writing this article today, one day we will no longer be employed at that job and one day we no longer be living on this earth. Have you thought about that?
How could we hold temporary jobs as more important than eternal positions? This is why we need spiritual direction. We need to be grounded in the knowledge that we are created by God for His work, not ours. He will use our talents here on earth for His purposes. As we traverse our life’s journey we may forget about God but did God forget about you? You may think he did but like any other parent, he is waiting for us. Do you want to let him down when we come to final judgment and tell Him that we were too busy for Him while we were on earth? Too busy! Look around how much of this too busy will take with you to your life everlasting? Can you take the power you have gained upon this earth? No. Can you take your money with you? No. Can you take your toys, homes, and job with you? No. If you can not take it with you then, why should it be important to you now? Good question huh? Do I have you thinking now?
If you are thinking about this now, let me do a simple test. Answer one question-Do you still do not know why you need a spiritual director? Most of you will have figured out that when you are about to run out of gas- you go to a gas station. When you are hungry you eat, when you are thirsty you drink and when you are tired you sleep. So would it not make sense that we need spiritual direction in our life so we can keep focused on the things that are important.
Think like having your traveling priest with you. He or she can help you focus on the important things in your life both now and forever. If you have a financial planner, an accountant, a lawyer, and a doctor, why not have a spiritual director as well?
This is what the Church has to say about spiritual directors:
“The Holy Spirit gives to certain of the faithful the gifts of wisdom, faith, and discernment for the sake of this common good which is prayer (spiritual direction). Men and women so endowed are true servants of the living tradition of prayer. According to St. John of the Cross, the person wishing to advance toward perfection should ‘take care into whose hands he entrusts himself, for as the master is, so will the disciple be, and as the father is so will be the son.’ And further: ‘In addition to being learned and discreet, a director should be experienced. . . . If the spiritual director has no experience of the spiritual life, he will be incapable of leading into it the souls whom God is calling to it, and he will not even understand them.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2690)
Brother Rex Anthony Norris in 2017 explained it this way:
As I have studied the lives of the holy men and women who make up the communion of saints — officially canonized or otherwise — I have noticed three things they share in common.
One, they have a deep and abiding relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ.
Two, not only have they each submitted their will and their life to the Lordship of Jesus, they have fully embraced the gift of their baptism as active members of the Catholic Church, His Mystical Body on Earth.
Three, in order to maintain and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church each of them, has sought out spiritual direction.
What does the Spiritual Direction meeting look like?
They can be as different as there are stars in the sky. The important thing is that they include some of the following ideas or concepts
They should be regular monthly meetings geared towards centering your life to the eternal and directing your actions here to correspond to what you want in the hereafter.
Think of this as a wellness check. You go to the doctor for a check-up for your body or mind- now you are going to have a spiritual check-up for your soul.
These meetings should last between 30 minutes and one hour. They can be accomplished over the phone, Zoom Meeting, or in person. During times of pandemic and just the ability to use spiritual people from all over the world, I would recommend Zoom meetings.
It is the 21st century way of communicating and a very effective way to use your time-not travel and you still can meet face to face.
A spiritual director should be a very religious person who knows you and a person who you can trust. It is important because you want to take their advice and put it to use in your life.
A spiritual director can easily be someone outside of your parish. In the 21st century, it is easy to imagine the director could live even outside of the country that you are living in currently.
As far as the meeting itself is concerned that would be up to the individual and their spiritual director. It would be conversational, begin with a prayer and end with a prayer. You should set short-term and long-term spiritual goals and then revisit them each meeting to check up on the progress.
Think of a spiritual director as a specialized coach who can help you back to your heavenly father.
I have a spiritual director. He is a man who I first met over 13 years ago. He is a recently retired priest who is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. He has a bigger-than-life presence and booming voice. When you are in Church and he is giving a homily you feel like God is talking to you. There is a presence about him that is unique, spiritual, and truly unforgettable. In the past several years I have worked with him on several projects dealing with the Armenian Genocide. He was never too busy to help and always very supportive of my efforts. This is the man I choose for my spiritual director, this is a man who can and will help me to become a better person, a better father, a better Deacon, and a better Christian- now and forever. This is Father Tateos Abdalian. Amen