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Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction is the spiritual formation of souls. To progress in likeness to Christ is a long and painful ascent over a steep path boarded by dangerous cliffs. Spiritual Direction is an ancient Christian discipline offering guidance to a soul in order to assist her in ascending toward God.

In the Scriptures we see St. Paul who heard the voice of Christ Himself. Paul asked the Lord, “Lord, what will you have me do?,” and Paul was sent to Ananias at Damascus : “Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told what you must do.” This manner of acting has been retained by the Church.

St. John Paul II told the lay faithful of the Church, “To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide, and a faithful discernment of the gifts and talents given by God.”

St. Faustina said, “…From the moment Jesus gave me a spiritual director I have been more faithful to grace.”

All without exception who in the course of ages have been known for their heroic holiness have taught the discipline of spiritual direction. Though not absolutely necessary for the salvation of souls, it is one of the normal means of spiritual progress. It is highly recommended based on authority, reason, and experience.

General Direction

A directee ideally meets monthly with a director in order to share matters related to prayer, ascesis, the struggle for virtue, and their sacramental life. The director assists the directee in discerning the voice of God, advancing in virtue, finding the root of and rejecting sin, and ultimately progressing in union with God.

19th Annotation

The 19th Annotated Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a systematic way to God that is tailored to the individual.  Director and retreatant/directee meet weekly for 34 weeks with the twin goals of union with God in prayer and discernment of God’s will for her life. 

The exercises progress through “weeks” meditating on sin and mercy, contemplation of Christ and the mysteries of His life, the journey to greater union with Christ in His Passion and in rejoicing with the risen Christ and confirmation in following Him.  The exercises are geared toward apostolic life for an active person making the choice to follow Christ and His Church

 

19th Annotation

The 19th Annotated Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a systematic way to God that is tailored to the individual.  Director and retreatant/directee meet weekly for 34 weeks with the twin goals of union with God in prayer and discernment of God’s will for her life. 

The exercises progress through “weeks” meditating on sin and mercy, contemplation of Christ and the mysteries of His life, the journey to greater union with Christ in His Passion and in rejoicing with the risen Christ and confirmation in following Him.  The exercises are geared toward apostolic life for an active person making the choice to follow Christ and His Church

 

Questions & Referrals

Maybe a woman has questions related to prayer, healing and/or deliverance resources. We have a network of partners we work with for further intellectual, human, and spiritual renewal.

Women can schedule a time to meet with one of our trained directors to ask questions, gather more information, and/or receive a referral to a partnering organisation or individual under the proper authority that is trained to serve her in further interior healing or renewal.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are interested in growing in your personal relationship with Jesus, getting to know Him more intimately to better understand the unique plan He has for your life and grow in virtue, you would benefit from spiritual direction.

Lay spiritual directors have a long history in the Church.

Historically, the first spiritual directors were those who left the world to live isolated lives in the desert. St. Antony of Egypt and St. Synletica are among these. These holy men and women became directors solely because others came to seek them out for advice and encouragement.

As a young man, Saint John Paul II received direction and formation from a layman in his local parish, Jan Tyranowski. Saint John Paul II identified Jan as having had a substantial influence on his desire to become a priest.

The focus of spiritual direction is your relationship with Jesus. Topics often discussed during a meeting include your personal prayer times, your sacramental life, putting together a plan to grow in virtue, general questions about prayer and Church teaching and other circumstances which may inhibit your ability to pray. It is also important to look at how your everyday relationships intersect with your spiritual life and goals. Do these relationships help or hinder your spiritual journey?

We most often meet with our directees at our center, either at the Mary and Elizabeth House of Prayer and Formation, or the House of St. Joseph. We also meet with directees over Google Meet.

Spiritual Direction does not have a cost.

We do encourage all who benefit from their time in direction to consider a stipend to the work of Mary and Elizabeth so we can continue this work for others. We suggest a stipend of $30 monthly for regular direction or $100 monthly for the Spiritual Exercises (which meet weekly).

We also have generous donors who provide funding for students or missionaries to benefit from time in direction.

 

There is nothing more important than the care of your soul! That’s why finding a good director is a priority. Here are some questions to consider when seeking a new director:

  • Are they faithful to the magisterium?
  • Has the person received formal training in Spiritual Direction? Where did they go?
  • Are they in direction themselves?
  • What is their personal prayer life like? Do they frequent the sacraments and how often?
  • How long have they been providing direction?
  • How often do they see directees? How accessible are they if you need to meet between scheduled sessions?

Spiritual Direction and counseling are different. While it is true that some of the topics covered may overlap, direction is focused primarily with your relationship with Jesus and your personal prayer life. It helps you to grow in virtue.

Counseling provides greater support for mental health issues, martial or family difficulties or trauma treatment. It helps you to be productive and functional in your daily life.

The great spiritual master Tanquerey writes, “The object of spiritual direction is in all that has a bearing upon the spiritual formation of souls. Confession limits itself to the accusation of faults; direction goes far beyond this. It reaches the causes of sin, deep-rooted inclination, temperament, character, acquired habits, temptations, and imprudences. This, in order to discover the right remedies, such as to go to the very roots of the evil,” combat better, and move toward virtue.

The sacrament of confession is an actual sacrament instituted by Christ (John 20:22) with matter (the sins confessed) and form (the words of absolution). When the matter and form meet, sanctifying grace is bestowed on the soul by Jesus through the priest. Neither the education nor sanctity of the priest deters the fruitfulness of the sacrament. Our Lord’s grace and mercy is present at every confession.

Spiritual Direction is not a sacrament and while one might receive great counsel in moving toward the reception of actual and sanctifying grace in their life, it does not bestow grace and is not limited to the priestly ministry.

Spiritual Direction was actually first given by laymen, monks, in the early Christian Church, and throughout the history of the Church has been given by learned men and women, St. Catherine of Siena being a notable laywoman and Doctor of the Church who gave direction.

Additionally, who one chooses to be directed by matters (not so with Confession). Direction is not always good simply because it is “direction.” One can have a guide leading them in a direction that is not toward God. St. Teresa of Avila counselled that it was best to have a learned director moreso than a holy one. St. Francis de Sales said that a director should possess charity, knowledge, and prudence and that if the director lacked one of these there would be danger for the soul.

"The woman's soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold."

 -St. Edith Stein

Learned, Experienced, and Available Network of Spiritual Directors

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