4 Astoundingly Easy Ways to Find a Spiritual Director
Having trouble locating a Spiritual Director? These 4 Specific Tips should help you immediately!
I could have walked to confession because it was close, but I drove 45 minutes to a different church because I was particularly sensitive about the sins that I was about to confess.
The anonymous priest’s voice from behind the screen assigned me my penance, gave me absolution, and then recommended that I seek spiritual direction.
I remember thinking, what does that entail?
Do I really need it?
He must think I’m a monster if he thinks I need ongoing help.
“Can you offer spiritual direction?” I asked.
“I don’t have the time right now.” He said. “But ask another priest nearby.”
Two months and several priests later I was still hearing those same words and I was ready to give up.
“I don’t have the time right now.”
Would I ever find a good spiritual director?
If you are a Catholic who wants to take your spiritual life to the next level, then finding a solid spiritual director is imperative. I can tell you from experience that locating a good one is not easy.
Why is Spiritual Direction Important for Living a Life of Holiness?
Do you see yourself as others see you?
Are you going to lie to your spiritual director?
Lying to yourself about your progress is easy, but if you visit your spiritual director monthly and he has been telling you to practice a certain devotion or pray in a certain way and you never do it, how hard is it going to be for you to tell him that you did not follow his direction? If he is a good spiritual director, he will (gently) give you a hard time.
Being held accountable is key to progressing in the spiritual life.
Talk it out
Have you ever wanted to try something new like abstaining from meat every Friday, praying the rosary every day, or taking a pilgrimage on your knees 62 miles to the nearest Marian Shrine?
Many people want to do these things for the wrong reasons. A spiritual director can keep you grounded to make sure you are operating in a way that can help you actually grow in holiness. It’s easy to get distracted by new devotions and it is very helpful to have someone who can keep you on track.
Where can you find a spiritual director?
After attending a silent weekend retreat out in the mountains, I asked the priest who was leading it if he had time to offer me spiritual direction.
"I can only offer it 1 time per month. Would that work for you?"
I was shocked. "That sounds great!" I replied.
I have had a spiritual director ever since, and it has made a huge impact on my life.
Now that I have been at this for a while, I have a few recommendations for locating a spiritual director.
Finding someone who takes their faith seriously is important. This could be a priest, a devout layperson, or maybe even the wise hermit in your neighborhood who lives in that old house on the hill.
The Best Option
If your parish priest takes his priesthood seriously and is interested in saving souls, then you have to ask him first. He will be the best person to offer you spiritual direction.
He probably already knows you, at least a little, and has an idea of the kinds of issues and things someone like you in his geographic location is dealing with. As a plus, he will be close enough to offer you the sacraments as your regular confessor.
He will be your best option.
Some people worry about asking their parish priest because they are friends and they don’t want to mess up that relationship. Fair enough, but this is why he was brought into your life in the first place. Fostering a good relationship with him as a spiritual father is better than just having another friend, but it’s up to you.
The only other issue with asking your parish priest is that many times, parish priests are really busy and running ragged with responsibilities. Therefore, you may need to look elsewhere, but you should not assume he is too busy and at least ask him. He might be able to offer a recommendation.
All in a day's work
Opus Dei has a ministry specifically dedicated to offering spiritual direction. This can either be an Opus Dei priest or what they call a Numerary. Both would be excellent and in general are very orthodox and dedicated. The Numerary would not be able to offer confession, but can give you the time to help you grow in your relationship with Christ and virtue. If you live near an Opus Dei center, then give them a call and ask about spiritual direction.
If you don’t have an Opus Dei center nearby, call the closest center, even if it is hundreds of miles away.
Ask them if you can either do spiritual direction over the phone or if they know of any members nearby. Opus Dei members live all over the place. The center will be able to give you good advice.
Opus Dei will not try and force you to join, but like any organization, it is just to offer some sort of monetary contribution for the service they offer. I have participated with Opus Dei for several years now and I am still not a member.
Spiritual Life Coaching
Founded by Greg Popcak, the Pastoral Solutions Institute is focused on integrating Catholic theology and counseling psychology to include St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. They offer, not only, Catholic counseling services but also Spiritual Life Coaching over the phone or in person. I have listened to Greg and his wife Lisa for years on the Catholic radio station and can tell you that they are devout and serious Catholics who have dedicated their lives to helping others grow towards Christ. If you want flexibility and spiritual growth, contact them here.
Flexible and Certified
“Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate school of psychology and counseling, founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. The University is dedicated to the scientific study of psychology with a Catholic understanding of the person, marriage and the family.” They are orthodox, have an excellent reputation, and offer a certificate for Spiritual Direction. They are creating a list that will be regularly updated on Spiritual Directors who have gone through their program. Check their website and find one who will work with you either in person or over the phone.
Also, if you are interested in becoming a spiritual director, then this is a wonderful resource.
I spoke with them myself regarding thier spiritual direction program for this post and they will be happy to answer any questions you have as well.
For Complicated Issues
This is not for regular spiritual direction but for a complicated ethical question that comes up. The National Catholic Bioethics Center offers free help and guidance, but do not abuse it! They are experts on Catholic medical ethical questions and can give you advice on a specific issue. I have called them because I was trying to get a clear answer for a complicated medical question and they helped me think it through and offered me a truly Catholic answer. I was not told what I should do, but I was told what was licit and not. I am so thankful for this resource. If you are confronting a specific issue that can be answered with a single phone call, then definitely call them. But it is not free counseling and should not be used every time something comes up. Only for those really difficult issues that are confronting you or your family.
The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross - For Priests
This is another ministry of Opus Dei specifically for priests. Priests need spiritual direction too and Opus Dei recognized this.
If you are a priest, you should definitely consider spiritual direction. Look into the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross or contact Opus Dei for help.
Introduction to the Devout Life
St. Francis De Sales’ book, Introduction to the Devout Life is excellent for anyone who wants a guide on how to grow in holiness.
Related: Related: A Short but Thorough Guide to Confession
After you find a good spiritual director, make sure that you are a good spiritual directee. Read this short interview from Divine Mercy University to learn how.
Wanting to grow in holiness by seeking ongoing help does not make you weak and definelty not a monster, but it does does indicate that you have a spiritual maturity that will assist you as you walk along your journey of faith.
Disclaimer – Please note that we cannot guarantee a positive experience, satisfaction, or success with any of the recommended organizations. Some we have direct experience with and others we know by reputation. You must do your own research and do what you think is best based on the information available.
We pray this helps you find a good spiritual director and answers some questions about it.
Tony and Kendra