Saturday, March 21, 2009

Challenges With Spiritual Direction

We received over 180 responses to our Spiritual Direction Poll!  We asked, "What describes your spiritual direction situation."  About 103 of you (56%) indicated you have a spiritual director.  75 of you (41%) indicated you did not but wish you did.  I wonder if you would be willing to share your stories in order to serve others?  Here are two questions that I think would reveal helpful answers:
1) For the 56% who have a spiritual director, was there ever a time when you desired to have spiritual direction but did not?  How did you overcome this challenge?

2) For the 41% who desire spiritual direction but don't have it, what is getting in the way? What are your challenges and frustrations? Do you have any ideas about how to resolve them?
In Christ, Dan


  1. I belong to the 41% who don't have a spiritual director but wish I did. I'm as aspiring Daughter of St. Francis de Sales (a lay organization of Salesians). I have a "companion" - someone who has already become a daughter and who's willing to listen - but have been told this isn't the same thing as spiritual direction. If I were to choose a spiritual director, I would hope that their spirituality would be Salesian in character. I guess, too, I'm unclear if (a) a priest is best (in which case, name a priest who has the time) or if (b) it's best to have a director who's of the same sex as I am (in which case a priest wouldn't work anyway).

    I know this post is too long for a comment, but if you wish to respond via email, it's


  2. I'm part of the wishing 41%. My regular confessor is the one I would like to have as a spiritual director. He is a priest in a large parish, and, frankly, I'm afraid to ask outright lest he say no. So I'm trying to sneak in the back door, so to speak. Last time I asked him for a suggestion for spiritual reading and a particular examination of conscience. He gave a book suggestion and will get back to me next time on the particular exam. We'll see what happens!

  3. I'm one of the 41% without a Spiritual Director who would have one if there was one available. Since there aren't any available who aren't into the "centering stuff" there is no choice except to read. I have Fr's book and many others and "many" CD's, DVD's, and cassettes, all of which I use. Assiduous use of our indispensable Sacramental life goes without saying!

  4. I know I should have one, but what has kept me from going is fear. First fear of rejection ... what if he doesn't want to be bothered (this has happened to me before). Then fear of intimacy ... what if he agrees, then I have to show him who I really am. So I read good books and pray and go to confession, but I think I could go deeper if I had someone guiding me.

  5. Faithful Friends of the 41% - there is a post coming Monday that may be helpful though it does not directly address all of your individual and unique challenges. As well, later in the week we will have a relevant book recommendation. Hope they are helpful - this is a difficult challenge for those who are sincerely seeking to grow in Christ. More to come... including our prayers for you.

  6. I belong to the 56% that does have a Spiritual Director. Prior to the time I joined RC, I had no clue what a Spiritual Director even was. Having a spiritual director along with being a member of an RC group, has deepen my faith.


  7. Honestly, I don't know. I guess I feel like I am a bother to ask....we belong to a large parish where the pastor and assoc pastor are very busy. I need to ask God to lead me to a person and for me to get over whatever is holding me back

  8. I consider myself in the 56%, although I just started working with my spiritual director in January. Unfortunately, my spiritual director will be leaving our parish this June for a six year mission. So I will be looking for another spiritual director in the near future (something we have discussed). My delay in asking this priest for spiritual direction was the same as many posts above (fear they may not want to or are too busy; uncertainty about this process). This priest has been a blessing to me and my wife and our journey in faith this past year. We had commented numerous times to each other how is homilies seemed to be perfectly timed for what was going on in our lives (as if God said to him "here's what these two need to hear right now.") Even after learning he would be leaving our parish, I still waited three months before I asked for a meeting. For me, I just finally realized that God had placed this priest in our lives and that I needed to see if the opportunity was there to receive his counsel, even if it would be for just a short while.

    Fr. John and Dan, I am looking forward to your posts this week. While I will have some assistance from my current spiritual director, I will essentially be starting over again to find a new spiritual director.

    God Bless,

  9. I am basically one of the (now 42% since I voted) who do not have a regular spiritual director and wishes he did. For me it seems that distance from the Legionary priest who I would like to go to is the real problem.

  10. Hello everyone. I do have a spiritual director whom I met through Regnum Christi. He is a Legionary of Christ priest. I have spoken with him once a month for the last four years. He has truly helped me to have a more Godly worldview of things in my life and stressed the "boot camp basics" enough for me to finally get it. If you are looking to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus, a good weekend retreat, set aside just for Him, might be nice. Often the priests there can recommend spiritual directors.

  11. In the past I tried having a religious order priest from my parish, but we never really seemed to go into any depth and then he was sent to Italy. I joined RC 4 years ago with the hope it would help, but over time I found that I would be assigned different lay people as were available, and never got to establish a relationship with one director. The lay people also meant well, but were not as well trained as they should be. The priests and consecrated were well trained and helped the most but then they would be too busy or I would be assigned someone else. Perhaps it was my location, but I was very frustrated. I have left RC for other reasons, and my pastor has offered to be my spiritual director, as well as a friend who has training but lives in another state and I may try both to see if either works. We have one young priest who I think would be excellent but I worry that since he has been here 3 years that he will be moved soon and as soon as I establish a relationship it will be broken. I think reading Fr. Thomas Dubay's works are excellent, as is Fr. Thomas Williams' book Spiritual Progress, and better than a wishy-washy, new age director. Thanks Fr. Bartunek for your wonderful book which has taught me more about Meditation than any other, and I love your site!

  12. Hello everybody, I am in the 41%. I have been a member of Regnum Christi for 11 years.I can tell everyone this. you cannot get a better formation than from R.C.I was a member of a team in Metairie LA until evacuating to Shreveport before Hurricane Katrina.
    We ended up relocating for three years.Then we were able to move back down ,and I was on a team in Covington,but we could only stay a few months,and moved back up to Shreveport.I accepted God's will,and since we moved back we have been so blessed.However I am going to attend a Triduum of Renewal in Dallas,April 30th. ALLELUIA!!!I will receive spiritual
    direction then,butwhen I return to Shreveport,there is no R.C. here, yet......I'm praying to change that...I hope to get a Gospel Reflection going here.and get a team started.My husband and oldest daughter are also in R.C.Please pray for us...
    I would love to have spiritual direction on a regular basis, and if it could be with a Legionary, that would be fantastic. I do correspond with a Legionary from New York over e-mail. I enjoy so much anytime that I can speak with a Legionary Priest.I had the priviledge of sharing several minutes with Fr. Bartunek on Good Friday in New Orleans 2005.
    I so enjoyed hearing about the filming of the Passion of Christ. God bless you for offering this. TKC
    In Christ,
    Patsy Busi

  13. Dear Anonymous from 4/26/09 at 5:06 am,

    I experienced sentiments similar to yours until I finally realized that my spiritual director could not get deep with me, until I got deep with God.

    When I referred to "boot camp basics", I meant a DAILY, CONSISTENT schedule of prayer, Bible study; getting to Mass and confession more often, as well as an interior conversion of mind and attitude where you always try to please God through loving acts and offering up sacrifices - even when it is hard, there are obstacles all around you and it feels like God is far away. Nobody can do it for you, and it is HARD sometimes.

    If you find a good spiritual director, and are completely open and honest with him about your relationship with Our Lord, Jesus Christ (which is often so difficult to explain), he will help remedy your soul as a doctor does the body. Contrarily, if things are going great and you are filled with God's grace and feel His love and consolations, your spiritual director may help you to focus on gratitude for God's great love and kindness. Maybe, during those times, you are meant to be helping others more.

    My meetings have been very helpful but fairly clinical in nature. I think priests are more used to these kinds of conversations than most people.

    God bless you. Best of Luck.


Dear Friends - If you wish to submit a question to Father John, please see the "How can submit a question" post for guidelines. Your comments and feedback are more than welcome!