You don’t have to be a saint to want to draw closer to God or have more confidence in what he wants for your life.
Spiritual direction is an important ministry that helps people at every stage of the spiritual walk draw closer to God and have more confidence in his will for their lives. In fact, the Church acknowledges the incredible value of spiritual direction and encourages anyone who is serious about their spiritual walk to seek a competent, qualified director (Catechism #2690). The problem is finding a person who is both qualified to be a spiritual director (in training and spiritual maturity) and who has the time to see you. There simply aren’t enough clergy to go around in the first place, and of those who are, many either don’t have the time or training to do ongoing spiritual direction.
What’s a sincere Christian to do?
A New Service for YOU
In addition to our well-respected Catholic Tele-Counseling practice, the Pastoral Solutions Institute now offers telephone based Catholic Spiritual Direction Services. Now, whatever your state in life, whatever your place in your spiritual walk, and wherever you are in the world, faithful, competent, compassionate spiritual direction is as accessible as your smartphone.
Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Ph.D. heads up the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Spiritual Direction Program. Deacon Dominic combines nearly 30 years of experience in pastoral and catechetical ministry with a Ph.D in theology and a graduate certificate in bioethics. Ordained in 1995 as the first permanent deacon of the Diocese of Steubenville, he is the founder of Diaconal Ministries. In these roles, Deacon Dominic has served for many years as a popular speaker, trainer, and spiritual director for priests, and deacons, and seminarians throughout the country. In addition to his scholarly writing, he is the author of, In the Person of Christ the Servant, a book that explores the nature of the diaconate and is used in many diaconal training programs across the country. He has also been a popular guest on many Catholic radio and television programs (Please see his full bio below).
For more information on the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Spiritual Direction Services, including rates and availability, I invite you to send a message to SpiritualDirection@CatholicCounselors.com and/or review both the FAQ and Deacon Dominic Cerrito’s full bio below.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION FAQ
What is spiritual direction?
The purpose of spiritual direction is to enable you to listen and respond more effectively to God’s personal communication in your life. This, in turn, cultivates the interior spiritual life where you meet the Holy Spirit one-on-one and true transformation takes place. The ultimate goal of spiritual direction is to deepen your intimacy with Jesus Christ and to help you live the Christian life more effectively. It is about helping you place your life more fully under the dominion of the Holy Spirit who is the primary spiritual director.
What does a spiritual director do?
The Pastoral Solutions Institute’s spiritual direction program exists to assist you in your conversation with God. Your spiritual director will help you be more attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and encourage your progress in the spiritual life, A good spiritual director is careful not to come between you and God. Instead, the director plays a supportive role in your relationship with God by encouraging you to engage in a process of ongoing spiritual growth that is grounded in an active parish life, supported by a commitment to prayer in its many forms, enlivened by the reading and study of Scripture, deepened through ongoing catechetical formation, and nourished through frequent use of the sacraments—especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
Can spiritual direction work over the phone?
Absolutely. In fact, telephone-based spiritual direction helps facilitate a major goal of spiritual direction; namely, that the spiritual director should be as little a distraction as possible so that you can become more aware of the presence of God in your session rather than the presence of the director in the session.
What should I expect from spiritual direction through Pastoral Solutions?
The Church has long recognized that living the faith is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Just as there are a number of schools of spirituality within the Catholic tradition, there are a number of valid approaches to spiritual direction. The key is choosing one that best empowers you to discover the unique relationship God desires with you.
In your sessions, your spiritual director will adopt a contemplative posture; listening to both you and God. As your director prayerfully attends to your time together, he will help you be attentive to and “stay with” the movements of God within the depths of your soul. In this experience, you will discover a safe harbor from which to explore and develop more particular spiritualties such as Marian, Ignatian, Carmelite, Dominican and Franciscan. As you progress in your work, your spiritual director will help you discover the spiritual model that is best suited to the work God is doing in your life.
Do I have to be “spiritually advanced” to benefit from spiritual direction?Absolutely not. All you need is a desire to take your spiritual life more seriously. To this end, in addition to facilitating your ongoing conversation with God and looking at ways to deepen your spiritual life, your spiritual director will help you get more out of basic spiritual practices such as regular church attendance, participation in the sacraments, and a day-to-day prayer life. Beyond these things, to get the full benefit of spiritual direction, the only other things you’ll need is a willingness to meet regularly with your director, and a sincere desire both for greater union with God and openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Does the director tell the directee what to do?
Your relationship with God is sacred and personal. As such you will always have the right to make the final decision about how that relationship should unfold. Your spiritual director will certainly offer suggestions he prayerfully feels would be helpful for deepening your relationship with God but he will never tell you what to do. It is your spiritual director’s job to ask you questions that help him understand where you are at in your spiritual journey and give you the tools to discover the best way forward. Good spiritual direction respects your free will just as God does.
How often is spiritual direction necessary?
There is no strict timetable for spiritual direction though it should be regular. After the initial spiritual assessment period, where your director helps you take stock of your spiritual journey thus far, you and your director will decide on the frequency that best serves you and your goals. However often you decide to meet (monthly at minimum), it will be important to be faithful to your time together. Your commitment builds a relationship of trust between you and your spiritual director so that,together, you may be more responsive to ways God is working in both of you.
How is spiritual direction different from counseling?
Spiritual direction can certainly be a healing process. But though spiritual direction can be a helpful part of recovery from emotional problems or relational conflict, the primary goal of spiritual direction is not recovery from problems so much as it is deepening your relationship with God, attending to God’s will more effectively, and being more confident in the ways God is working in and through you in your present circumstances.
Beyond this, where counseling is more directive, focused on teaching techniques, building skills and concentrated on resolving problems, spiritual direction is most interested in helping you develop the quiet place in your heart where you can encounter God more personally and receive whatever blessings, graces, and wisdom he wishes to share with you.
Is it ever advisable to undergo counseling and spiritual direction at the same time?
Depending on their particular circumstances and needs, a directee/client will often choose either spiritual direction or counseling. Even so, there is nothing that would prevent you from experiencing the benefits of both as they are intended to be complementary to each other.
Along these lines, it may also be the case that, in the course of spiritual direction, a director may make a referral to counseling or, in the course of counseling, a counselor may make a referral to spiritual direction. In such an event, you would be free to work with a director or counselor of your choosing—whether or not they were associated with the Pastoral Solutions Institute. That said, Pastoral Solutions Institute therapists and spiritual directors are part of the same team. We learn from each other, value each other’s input, and work together closely to help our clients achieve their goals in the most efficient way possible.
Are the sessions confidential?
Yes. Any disclosure that a directee makes during the sessions is strictly confidential. The director may never reveal it or use it. The only possible exception to this standard of confidentiality would be the case of grave, immediate, or mortal danger involving the directee or another person.
Do I have to be Catholic to have spiritual direction?
No. All Christians are welcome. While the Pastoral Solutions Institute spiritual direction program is deeply rooted within the Catholic tradition, the directee need not be Catholic. Accommodation can be made to direct the directee from a more general Christian approach.
Is there a charge for spiritual direction?
Yes. Spiritual direction is a demanding profession that requires many years of academic and personal preparation to do well. That said, we have set the cost of our service so that almost anyone could afford to take advantage of these services. For rates and availability, please send a request for additional information to SpiritualDirection@CatholicCounselors.com .
ABOUT DEACON DOMINIC
Deacon Dominic Cerrato offers spiritual direction under the Pastoral Solutions Institute and is Director 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.