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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On Spiritual Direction Two

Two more points I would like to stress in seeking or not having spiritual direction are these points:

1) It is really easy to deceive one's self on the spiritual road to God. Deception can look like piety, or discouragement, and even be a way some people excuse themselves from the hard bits. Even in a monastery, monks or nuns can "opt" out on the road to perfection by either manipulating the authority over them, manipulating the community or by isolating themselves. This can happen through weakness or through pride and through strength and pride.

Just as in some jobs you have met the person on the team who just can't meet when everyone else does regularly, or gets migraines under stress and reminds you how unreliable there health is, or the one who wants to take over the group. I had a group dynamics course in the 1970s in preparation for a teaching certificate, and these types of problems were discussed. In a monastery or a family, there may even be the person who always feels offended, or worse, feels so holy, that the others are holding them back. All these problems come from a skewed idea of reality and deceit at deep levels of the psyche. Healing and repentance are necessary.

This is one reason why one who does not have a spiritual director should find a good confessor and always go to the same one for continuity. This continuity opens the door for honesty and proves to make a huge difference in a person's life if they cannot find a spiritual director. In the past years when I did not have one, having the same confessor week after week was extremely useful and productive.
Humility is honesty and one cannot grow in humility unless one is honest about one's self.

2) A role model in one's life, or even a saint one admires and with whom one can identify is helpful if one does not have a spiritual director. When we have, especially, an older person in whom we see holiness and can learn from them just by osmosis or being in their presence, this can be a great help in spiritual growth.

Too many Millennials do not have good examples in their families of personal holiness. Many do, but not all can look towards leadership in the family for spiritual growth.  Cynicism and fear can be a reaction in a young person who cannot see personal holiness or who does not have a role model. A priest told me of an old woman he visited regularly until she died. He said visiting her was like stepping into heaven  because of her love of God and His Love for her. He was always eager to see her.

The lives of the saints become more important for these youth than ever before. Parents can introduce their children to saints and also direct the children to saints who may be like their children in character, personality and talents.

For example. Therese the Little Flower appeals to both men and women because of her "Little Way" and her honesty. Pier Georgio Frassati is very popular among those at the end of Generation X, as they can identify with his family life and his love of friendship. Groups have grown out of this need for modelling.

For seminarians in the Millennials, such saints as Louis de Montfort, John Vianney and Maximilian Kolbe are attractive, both having endured persecution in different ways.

For those who are married, Louis and Zelie Martin are perfect examples of those who suffer on the way to perfection.

to be continued....


Catechist Kev said...

"This is one reason why one who does not have a spiritual director should find a good confessor and always go to the same one for continuity."

My biggest problem with this, SuperT, is the fact that in our diocese priests are getting scarce... fast.

As a matter of fact I am hearing that our deanery may go down to one priest for (currently) six parishes, one Catholic school, one chapel, and 5000+ parishioners. (all of this covers three counties)

Well, looks like I'll have to bite the bullet and seek out a solid deacon for a spiritual director. :)


Anonymous said...

I used to receive spiritual direction when I was younger, and somewhat wet behind the ears and had less ability to discern the good from the bad. I have had two very bad directors. The first was a religious sister (in mufti) who was quite bitter inside so I never went back to her. The second was also a woman, a liberal Baptist would you believe, even though the centre she worked at was run by Catholics. Anyway, the advice she gave me was toxic - she basically told me to just go ahead and give into my lusts. Thankfully I never did. Since then I have tried to find a spiritual director but have not been able to. I have contacted a number of priests, who have not bothered to respond. I don't know what to make of this. Almost every priest and religious sister in my diocese is liberal and I am loathe to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Sometimes when I feel I need guidance on a certain matter I turn to the writings of the saints. They never let you down.


Supertradmum said...

LM scary. Stick with the saints and go to Adoration as much as possible