As she has always done, today the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction not only to those who desire to follow the Lord closely but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his or her Baptism, that is, new life in Christ. – Pope Benedict XVI
The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). – Pope Francis
To accommodate the growing desire among the faithful for guidance in the spiritual life, the Diocese of Harrisburg provides for the formation and supervision of spiritual guides.
With a spiraling curriculum, the 3-year formation introduces the essentials of the interior life during the first year, moves into a deeper and more precise exploration of those essentials during the second year, and culminates in an immersion, through study and practicum, during the third year.
During the practicum, the candidate works with two directees, with monthly supervision. Upon successful completion of the program, lay candidates assume a private practice and are recognized by the Diocese as spiritual guides, located at their parish, yet open to all members of the Diocese.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
“It is the guiding of a person into a life truly under the dominion of the Holy Spirit, who is the primary director. It helps the directee to be more and more docile to the light and promptings of the divine Sanctifier, identifying impediments to this, as well as ways to overcome them, giving instruction and encouragement in living a life of virtue, and assisting the directee to advance on the path of prayer — the road to union with God.“—Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM
Spiritual Direction is a sacred time in which two are gathered together in the name of Jesus—the guide/director and the directee—to help a person develop an ever deepening relationship with God and to discern the workings of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life.
WHO ARE SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS?
Spiritual directors “can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze. … [They] lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. – Pope Francis
Spiritual direction has a long history as a ministry dating back to the desert mothers and fathers, who were sought out to assist others in developing a deeper relationship with God. In our day, men and women who discern the call to serve in this way receive formation through a program specifically designed for the ministry of spiritual direction and remain committed to their own personal ongoing spiritual formation and growth.
Today, spiritual directors are found working in retreat houses, in religious communities, in parishes and as independent ministers.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
Spiritual direction helps us to recognize and respond to God’s loving invitation to a closer, more dynamic relationship. Through this ministry, we learn to be attentive — to notice God’s presence and action in our lives.
This new awareness enlivens our ongoing conversion and affects our life choices. Little by little, as our wills become more identified with God’s will, we discover what it is to live in “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rm 8:21).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MEET WITH A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR?
You would meet one-on-one, typically for one hour, once a month. You bring to the session anything which is happening in your life — and particularly in your prayer life. All you need is a desire to reflect prayerfully and honestly on your life happenings and a willingness to share your story.
Confidentiality and your privacy are always maintained (except, of course, when required by law to prevent harm). During the first meeting, you might share a brief spiritual autobiography and what brought you to spiritual direction.
The goal of spiritual direction is to learn how to relate more consciously and respond more fully to God, in His love. The director is there to create a safe environment of attentive listening and prayer. The director may ask clarifying questions and sometimes have suggestions for further reflection.