Spiritual Direction is a practice becoming more popular in the Church today as people seek to know the voice of God with clarity. And with its popularity comes the question: “what is spiritual direction?”. It is first important to clarify that spiritual direction isn’t only for clerics, religious or the super-pious – it is for every baptized person who wants someone to help guide them on their journey of following God’s will. That’s what spiritual direction is;
“…a relationship through which we come to better know, love, and follow Christ through the help of a kind of spiritual coach. It is a process through which we come to know and love Christ and ultimately experience the heights of spiritual union with Him, even in this life.” Navigating the Interior Life, Burke.
When addressing the laity, St. John Paul II wrote in Christifideles Laici that “the fundamental objective of their formation is the ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission.” Everyone has a calling, a mission in life. Today there are coaches for everything: personal life and relationships, finances, investment portfolios, health and fitness goals, even organization, and wardrobe, so the question is why not have a coach to help with spiritual life? Spiritual Direction involves a relationship where both parties work together to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the follow those promptings in a concrete, daily manner.
The task of choosing a spiritual director is therefore not an easy one and not something to be taken lightly. It’s important to take into account the director’s qualities, spirituality and if there is personal compatibility. Not to mention the fact that those who are spiritual directors are quite busy and could be hard to find! Another thing to keep in mind when deciding to begin a spiritual direction relationship is the difference between counseling and spiritual direction. The difference can be seen analogously as going to see a doctor and getting a fitness coach. The two work together for total health but in different ways and for different periods of time. The doctor makes sure everything is working fine or helps with an illness, and the fitness coach will work consistently for specific results in physical fitness and capacity. Knowing what one needs and is looking for is important, and of course, it’s ok to need both!
The new Spiritual Direction Certificate Program (SDC) offered through Divine Mercy University seeks to respond to the ongoing need for the followers of Jesus Christ to assist one another on their path of becoming ever more faithful disciples of the Lord. The goal of the SDC program is to prepare candidates with the requisite dispositions, knowledge of the theological and human sciences, interactions skills, and supervision tools that will enable them to be spiritual directors with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Church’s tried experience. The program is open to all – priests, religious, laity, consecrated – who are eager to deepen in the tradition and practice of the spiritual life and spiritual direction.
For more information on the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program visit: www.sdc-divinemercy.org.