A guest blog by Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Ph.D., Director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Spiritual Direction Program.
Traditionally, spiritual direction was most closely associated with clergy and religious as part of growth in the interior life. Throughout the history of the Church, few lay people received formal spiritual direction relying instead on the confessional and private devotions. As a result of the Second Vatican Council with its emphasis on the vocation of the laity, spiritual direction is no longer primarily reserved for the clergy, but available for all.
In its most basic sense, spiritual direction is primarily concerned with the directee’s relationship with God. It is the assistance given by the director to help the directee to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her and to respond to this personal communication in concrete ways. Spiritual direction is a means to grow in holiness through the development of the interior life.
Here are five ways spiritual direction can change your life.
Ongoing Spiritual Direction Reminds Us that We Do Not Journey Alone
While the Christian life has a deeply personal component, it’s never meant to be private – just me and Jesus in my prayer closet. To be Christian is to belong to a faith community and one aspect of that community is mutual support. Ongoing spiritual direction reminds us that we are not alone. Instead, it provides us with someone we can trust who can guide us to growth in the interior life.
Ongoing Spiritual Direction Keeps Us Attentive to the Presence of God
Ongoing Spiritual Direction Calls Us to Participate More Fully in the Life of the Parish
The parish is our primary faith community. It is the place where we encounter Jesus in His Word and Sacraments, most fully in the Eucharist. And yet, it’s easy to treat the parish as a kind of weekly stop for spiritual fuel with little else to offer in our busy schedule. Ongoing spiritual direction reorients our lives to be more active in the community, more giving in our hearts.
Ongoing Spiritual Direction Draws us into a More Intimate Communion with Jesus Christ
The goal of the Christian life is intimate communion with Jesus Christ. While this is accomplished fully when we receive His eternal embrace at the end of this life, our Lord offers us a bit of heaven here on earth. Ongoing spiritual direction fosters a deeper experience of God’s love on a personal level. It is a life-long process in which our relationship with Him is cultivated and enriched. In this, we gain a sense of self-confidence and fulfillment. Spiritual direction disposes us to anticipate and even yearn for eternal life without losing sight of the here and now.
Ongoing Spiritual Direction Transforms Our Lives
Authentic growth in the spiritual life is gauged by growth in the exterior life; that is, in our everyday choices. Jesus tells us that we shall know a tree by its fruits. If, in spiritual direction we seek to somehow leave this world to find Christ, we will simply pass Him on the way. Jesus Christ is here. He is present in those around us and particularly in those that suffer. Ongoing spiritual direction has the potential to transform our lives allowing the love of God we experience to change and inspire us to become more loving to others.
For more information, contact us at SpiritualDirection@CatholicCounselors.com
ABOUT DEACON DOMINIC
Deacon Dominic Cerrato is the director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Spiritual Direction Program and is Founder of Diaconal Ministries. Formerly, he served in full-time pastoral ministry specializing in adult formation. He has also taught theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville and Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost along with ethics at Thomas Nelson Community College. While at Franciscan University, Deacon Dominic also established and developed the Distance Learning Masters in Theology Program. He has nearly 30 years of experience in catechetical and pastoral ministry on both the diocesan and parish levels.
Deacon Dominic possesses a BA in Theology from Franciscan University, a MA in Theology from Duquesne University where he also completed his Ph.D. course work with a concentration in healthcare ethics. In 2009, he was awarded a Ph.D in Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Ordained in 1995 as the first permanent deacon of the Diocese of Steubenville, Deacon Dominic has developed a number of formation/catechetical programs included a highly successful program for returning Catholics that was featured in USA Today and Our Sunday Visitor. He is a national speaker and author. He and his wife Judith have been married for 34 years and they have seven children and six grandchildren.