September 9, 2009

Finding a Spiritual Director

I was asked to write a little more on finding a spiritual director. It's not easy. Over the years, both inside and out of religious life, I have tried various strategies, with varying results.

Prayer, of course, is the primary strategy. To have a good spiritual director for a certain moment in one's journey is pure Providence, so it makes sense to ask God to provide someone.

Before I was in religious life I tried a couple of things. Twice I asked my pastor to recommend someone. With one pastor this worked out well, and I connected with a director who was very helpful. It took me several years to accept his advice, but when I did I was grateful. With the other pastor, it didn't work so well. He sent me to a priest who talked constantly and incomprehensibly on obscure topics, e.g the lost city of Atlantis, and I never went for a second appointment.

Here in the archdiocese of New York we used to have a spiritual director referral service--we may indeed still have it, I don't know. It worked out of the Center for Spiritual Development, formerly in Rye, I think. I have tried to use this ministry twice. The first time it worked very well. It's like a matchmaking service; you go to visit Sister and tell her about your prayer and what you are into and working on, etc., and she prays over it and matches you with a spiritual director. I connected with one of my best directors this way. The second time I used this service, some years later, I never got a call back. Perhaps my case had grown too dire by then.

Whatever you do in trying to find a director, stick with it. If your gut tells you someone is a lunatic, untrustworthy, or really not concerned about your soul, dump him and start over. It's worth it.

Update: There is another post I could write, perhaps titled, "How to fire a spiritual director," a topic on which I have much experience. It would certainly be a "Ha ha, only serious" kind of post. Let me know if I should write it.


just evelyn said...

Thank you for writing on this. When I was in the process of converting, I directed a lot of my weightier theological questions to a particular staff person who handled them very well, and with a deep charity. Once I was actually Catholic and heard of spiritual direction, this person was a natural choice. Pursuing a third order vocation has caused me to cross paths with others who would make good directors. We're blessed at our parish with easily half a dozen qualified directors. Sometimes I wish I could ship them to other parishes, just for a week or two.

GrandmaK said...

You know praying for guidance has always worked for me. I have been blessed with two spiritual directors over the years and you know, They have both been what I needed at that time. This was a wonderful post. Thank you!! Cathy

pennyante said...

By all means, write about how to fire a spiritual director. And while you are at it, discuss how a spiritual director who no longer wishes to direct a person, should go about giving that unsuspecting person the news.

I had this happen to me and it was totally unexpected. I was completely unprepared since it was my first experience with direction and I had no clue that there was a problem. The priest did help me find another SD whom I am very happy with.

Hidden One said...

Both of the topics in pennyante's post are ones I'd like to read posts on.