Dear St. Paul’s family,
In this holiest of seasons I want to encourage you to spend time in prayer and to consider ways to deepen your connection to God. One way is to adopt a classic form of spiritual discipline.
Are you familiar with the term “spiritual direction”? Maybe you have read Susan Howatch’s novels and have come away with an understanding of a spiritual director as a kind of drill instructor, or maybe you haven’t come across the term, or maybe you think it’s just for clergy. Here’s my personal definition: Spiritual direction is the vocation of walking alongside someone in their journey of faith, offering pointers along the way to closer connection to the sacred. A spiritual director is trained in this art of companionship: it is not a role to be taken on lightly. A spiritual director may be clergy or lay, of any gender identity, and may dwell in any faith tradition.
Everyone can receive spiritual direction. You don’t have to be especially holy, or in the ordination process, or an ordained person. Whoever we are and wherever we find ourselves in the journey of faith, we can benefit from regular conversations with a trustworthy and discreet individual who has a rich prayer life, who is wise in the ways of self-knowledge and self-deception, and who will listen for God’s voice in the life we describe. A spiritual director hears what we say and voices what lies between the lines. She directs our attention to the connections we may have missed, the points of light in a dark time, the surprising activity of the Holy Spirit, the resonances between Scripture and our own experience. She asks, in essence, “Where is God in this?”
My current spiritual director is a Carmelite nun who has been in the monastery since 1948. She has literally led a cloistered life, but she knows a great deal about life in community and about the distractions that draw us away from God. She brings me back, time and again, to the constant presence, often unnoticed, of Jesus in my life. This kind of gentle reminder is just as important to a lawyer, a teacher, or a banker, as it is to a parish priest.
As we walk through the dark days of Holy Week and into the light of Easter, I invite you to consider whether your life might be enriched by the ministry of a spiritual director. You can find more information about this ministry and about some local spiritual directors at SanDiegoSpiritualDirection.
Have a blessed Holy Week, and may Easter be a time of joy and new life.
Your sister in Christ,