Many of your comments and poll responses reveal that apprehension is a recurring obstacle to seeking spiritual direction. All those who desire but do not yet have a spiritual director are in the same position – one of vulnerability. The following is an overview of common struggles:
- The area of our lives that is most important to us (our faith) is at a place where we obviously need help in order to grow. This can be a difficult and sensitive admission.
- As committed Catholics, we typically hold priests in high esteem and struggle with the idea of encroaching on their already busy schedule.
- We are concerned that the relationship with the potential spiritual director remain positive and healthy (particularly if he is our parish priest).
- The process and nature of spiritual growth is an unknown. It is similar to heading into a fog – we know we should – but we don’t know what will come of our decision to continue forward.
All of these, and many other factors make us hesitant to pursue spiritual direction. So, the first question is one of motivation. Are you ready to suffer whatever discomfort you may feel for the greater end of finding peace of soul and living life according to your ultimate purpose? If your answer to this question is, “yes,” then half the battle is already over. Be encouraged – you are unique in this world. God is calling you to Him, and you are listening. The rest is mere practicality and perspective. Here are a few basic ways to overcome these inhibiting emotions:
1) Increase your knowledge and understanding of the spiritual direction process. Read the spiritual direction posts on this site and/or Father Dubay’s book and gain the vocabulary and perspective necessary to converse comfortably on the topic.
2) Recognize that the care of souls, as with spiritual direction, is central to the call of a priest. Any good priest will be encouraged to discover and work with a soul committed to follow Christ.
3) Approach the priest’s busy schedule with a practical respect. Here’s how:
- Ask them for a 20 minute meeting to have a brief discussion about your spiritual life.
- Prepare yourself for the meeting. Review the post “How should I prepare myself for a meeting with my spiritual director,” and do the work. Ensure that you limit your discussion to very specific goals or challenges you are facing.
- Arrive before your scheduled time.
- End your time on time. If you are clearly sensitive to their schedule, they will recognize that you value their time and will be more open to your next request. If you talk on and on and come in unprepared, be prepared for difficulty in getting follow-up meetings.
- Write down and repeat back the direction you receive. This indicates that you are serious and are listening – a worthy investment of time.
- If all seems to go well, as you wrap up your meeting, ask if you can follow up later if you have more questions or need further insight.
- When you meet again, review what they advised you to do in the last meeting and update them on your progress, questions, difficulties, etc.
- Offer a donation at the conclusion of the meeting.
With these tools in hand, your next step is to get on the phone. Call and set an appointment. Regardless of the outcome, you are being obedient to the call of God. He will reward your courage and diligence and provide what you lack. In due time, I am sure that “He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion...” (Philippians 4:9)