A reader is looking for a priestly spiritual director

He writes:

DIY spirituality is like DIY sports or fitness. A coach can greatly improve results.

So I’m wondering if in your list of priest contacts, you might have a chap to recommend. Admittedly, it’s likely to be a long-distance conversation for the most part.

I would want to offer a donation to his parish or favorite organization in return, as we both know these are very busy people.

If someone comes to mind, please send a note. Lent is coming (again), so I hear.

If one of my priestly readers can help him out, I will forward your contact info to him.

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  • Katheryn

    Yeah… Really… All of the cool kids (I mean, bloggers) are constantly, gushingly referring to their spiritual directors. How on earth does one find one? Do you pay them? How can you judge them qualified or not? How obliged are you to “obey” them? Isn’t that what Confession and reading the lives of the saints is for?

    • Well I don’t have one but from what I’ve heard a spiritual director is more than a “coaching” relationship. I’ve heard that the first meeting is a getting to know you kind of thing and both the spiritual director and the directee (?) try to figure out if the fit is best for both.

  • This reminds me of Sherry Weddell’s musings on discipleship not being a relationship with a library of books. I’m on the road a lot due to my job, so putting down roots in one parish has been hard. I doubt I’m alone in that. I imagine that if there were some sort of telephone counseling version of spiritual direction available, there would be many grateful folks seeking it out.

  • Katheryn

    I guess I’m just skeptical of the whole spiritual advisor thing. I grew up in an “ecumenical Christian community” where your “personal head” was another community director to whom you were accountable. These people had no pastoral training and often lead people in weird or flat out wrong directions. I would probably only trust a priest, or maybe a habited nun…

  • The saints all advise against DIY spirituality. It’s too easy to be led astray by the demons.

    Pray, pray, and pray some more that God will send you an spiritual director. No, you don’t pay them. No you are not obliged to obey them unless you are in a religious community and you have placed yourself under their obedience. You will progress in leaps and bounds in your spiritual life if you have a spiritual director. Also, you should get a confession out of the meeting as well.

    O Lord, who desirest not the death of a sinner but that he should turn and live, Thou who didst come to earth in order to restore life to those lying dead through sin and in order to make them worthy of seeing Thee the true light as far as that is possible to man, send me a man who knows Thee, so that in serving him and subjecting myself to him with all my strength, as to Thee, and in doing Thy will in his, I may please Thee the only true God, and so that even I, a sinner, may be worthy of Thy Kingdom.

    St Symeon the New Theologian


    • Katheryn

      Thank you for that. I frequent the confessional and find it quite edifying. I will definitely pray this prayer because it certainly will take the pressure off of me for discerning who a proper advisor might be.

      • You’re most welcome.

        • Katheryn

          Now that we have covered spiritual directors, Dr.Eric…. I took a look at your website. Do you know of any like-minded doctors in the West suburbs of Chicago? It’s awful hard to find a Catholic doc who has your skills,

  • JB

    All well and good for those who are so inclined as well as fortunate enough to find a “spiritual director” who suits them. However, here’s just a reminder that:

    1. The main way to avoid “DIY spirituality” is to receive the sacraments, and
    2. Speaking only for myself, as someone who generally does not like most Priests, I find it can be a kind of spiritual tonic – meaning an exercise in humility – to respect the sacramental authority of whatever Priests are available, including those whom I think is are jerks and or poor theologians.

  • JB

    PS, to my above comment I’ll just add the observation that the essence of Satan’s sin is that he’s a spiritual elitist, infuriated by the fact that God chose far less intelligent creatures than him to be God’s personal representatives. The moral of Satan’s Fall is that spiritual intelligence does not equate to spiritual authority.

  • Elias Crim

    In my experience, there’s no assumption that one remains with the same spiritual director forever. More than that, on one occasion, my director struck me at first as possibly “not a fit” but I persisted and something interesting happened. I found I was able to gently encourage him (I think that’s how he took my comments) in his priestly duties which was beneficial to me. Second, I realized my initial reaction was mistaken: he was “a fit” for my needs but I didn’t see it right away. The relationship here is not some kind of Rasputin-like dominance of a cringing penitent. It should be the best kind of friendship, based on a shared ideal. And the metaphor of “coaching”, in this context, is not a bad one, I think, given the life experience of most priests.

  • JB

    Not to belabour my two prior comments, but – and I invite any of you to correct me if I’m mistaken – Mr Elias’ above good commment’s words about his spiritual director being “a fit for (his perceived) needs”, brings me back to the question I’ve implied in my above comments – perhaps not a problem for others, but it’s a logical problem for me, so please help me out here?

    My question, and/or my “problem” with this, is based on the following presmises of our Church:

    1. Our Church’s PERFECT means of salvation are the sacraments, instituted by Jesus Christ and given by Priests who have received Apostolic authority to administer the sacraments, regardless of their personal characters or intelligence or even their (the Priests’) states of Grace – in other words, the ultimate spiritual director is Jesus Christ, and His instruments are His sacraments…

    2. …therefore (again please correct me if I’m mistaken), it seems to me that anyone who receives the sacraments from ANY Priest, receives perfect spiritual direction regardless of the personal qualities of the Priest.

    3. In light of the above, although I do not discount the value for SOME Christians of having a personal “spiritual director” who is a Priest, still in light of the fact that Our Lord has already made HIMSELF available to EVERYONE through the sacraments, gives me some reservations about the importance of a personal “spiritual director” in the person of a Priest. In sum, doesn’t our Church teach us that ALL Priests are, well, FUNGIBLE in their sacramental roles as “alter Christi”?

    In sum, although I don’t say it’s “wrong” to have a spiritual director, still for the above reasons I have reservations about focusing more on that idea than on the sacraments. Furthermore – and also in light of all the above – why should a “spiritual director” be a Priest instead of a layman? A Priest’s role is to represent Jesus Christ sacramentally, but not necessarily to be an especially good or wise or holy teacher.

    Again, I invite anyone to correct me if I’m mistaken.

    Based on the followi

    • midwestlady

      Some people need spiritual directors at certain stages of their spiritual growth. However, it’s not often the people who claim they need them that really need them. Some people think of them as a status symbol or a source of edification (which they usually deny), neither of which they are.
      There is no requirement that a spiritual director be ordained or be in a religious order, congregation or society, and in fact, many good ones are neither. They should be holier than you, experienced in listening to people, and solidly Catholic.

      • midwestlady

        PS. Good spiritual directors don’t have a fee. You offer them something “to help out” at your discretion. It’s not a business. ALSO, you don’t brag about the fact you have a spiritual director or who he/she is. It defeats the point about 98% of the time. People out there making a big deal of it aren’t doing so hot. Word to the wise.

    • Many of the best spiritual directors are lay religious- nuns and monks who aren’t priests.

      And the overwhelming majority of spiritual writers strongly advise against DIY spirituality. It leads to deception.

  • Kay Cee

    Anyone who needs a Spiritual Director should contact his or her local diocese. The diocese should have a list of those who have been trained to offer spiritual direction.