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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

On Spiritual Direction

"If you find a wise man, beat a path to his door".

From 1971 to 1987 and from 1995 until 2011, I had most of the time in my adult life, excellent spiritual directors.

I was fortunate to be around many priests in my life, especially in the States, and to be in contact with holy lay women. It helped that I was in academia and also a community for a while.

This all ended when I came to Europe for lengths of time. I have found one or two excellent Confessors who have given me direction in Confession, mostly in London and in Malta. I sought out a wise priest in Dublin, but he did not have time to do regular spiritual direction.

This is the problem. There are not enough priests and not enough holy lay women for a lay woman to have as spiritual directors.

But, this is some advice for those of you who need one and cannot find one.

Number one rule, if you are a married woman, your husband is your spiritual director. Only if he refuses to assume the role given to him by God should you seek someone else out. I was taught this a long time ago, and it should help single women choose good husbands, if they are in courtship. Ladies, ask yourself, could this man help me grow spiritually, not merely by default and through suffering, but in wisdom and strength?

The old, horribly false idea that the woman is the spiritual head of the family, as sometimes believed in Latin America and southern European families, is just plain "out of order" and therefore, wrong. I have heard young men say that they would rely on a spouse to lead the spiritual life of a family. No, no, no....

Proverbs 12:20
He that walketh with the wise, shall be wise: a friend of fools shall become like to them.

Holy Wisdom
Number two, singles need spiritual directors in order to discern their real vocations. One cannot merely go bumping along blindly. However, in these times, when there is a lack of priests and holy lay people, an excellent Confessor can be asked to direct. Some do, especially in the Westminster Diocese. It seems these priests, between 40-70, have training to ask the right questions and guide. Not all, but many...

Number three, all married men need a spiritual director. If one cannot be found, one must spend hours in front of the Lord in Adoration during the week. Men who are leading families, raising children and taking God into the world must have some grounding in the reality of the spiritual life.

Number four, the age to find one is when the young adult goes to college. When my son went to Thomas Aquinas College, there was a priest in every male dorm, having rosary meetings, open door policies for direction and private meetings as needed. They were all excellent. This is another good reason to encourage and if you as a parent are paying, sending your children to such colleges; Thomas Aquinas, Christendom, Ave Maria, Thomas More, Wyoming Catholic, Steubenville and so on of that ilk. Directors are available and the young adult gets into a habit of such direction.

Make sure the priest or lay person is absolutely orthodox, believing all that the Catholic Church teaches.

Direction in spiritual matters can come directly from God, of course. But, even in the Illuminative State, a person can veer off into heresy. Pride is always a temptation.

God will never abandon us. He provides.

Believe that.

Proverbs 1:5
 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: