What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables a person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship”. (Barry & Connolly – The Practice of Spiritual Direction) It is a process that helps us to dare to believe that God is truly present and is actively involved in our lives.
Spiritual direction is based on the premise that God communicates with human beings both corporately and as individuals and, as such, communication occurs primarily through a person’s experience. That is to say, any experience in a person’s life is potentially a source of God’s communication with the person. This communication occurs because ultimately we are called to relationship with God. The primary purpose of spiritual direction is not to talk about this relationship; the primary purpose is to foster this relationship. According to Barry and Connolly, in “The Practice of Spiritual Direction”, spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables a person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship”.
The Spiritual Director
Spiritual direction is a process that helps us to dare to believe that God is truly present and is actively involved in our lives. The main purpose of the director is not to be a guru, sage or advice giver. The main task of the director is to be present and discerning. Discernment is the key skill of spiritual direction – discernment between those things that lead us towards God and those things that lead us away from God. The task of the director is not to say what he or she thinks God might be saying, but rather to hold the person being directed in a space where she or he can begin to sense for himself or herself what God might be saying. It involves careful listening, thoughtful attentiveness, deep affirmation and, occasionally, gentle challenge, together with a fundamental faith in a loving God.
What is the difference between spiritual direction and counselling?
No sharp line can be drawn between counselling and spiritual direction though there is a difference. Generally speaking, persons seeking counselling come for help in dealing with specific problems or issues. Spiritual direction is primarily concerned with helping a person grow in their relationship with God.
How do I find a spiritual director?
The Centre of Christian Spirituality has its own authorised list of persons who are recognised as spiritual directors. All of them have undergone some kind of training in this area and have accepted the willingness to work under supervision and continue to improve their skills.
Anyone who is needing a spiritual director may contact the secretary at the Centre any morning Monday to Friday between 09h00 and 13h00 (Tel 021 686 1269). A form will then be sent asking for details and preferences. This will help those responsible to recommend suitable persons who might meet these needs. Two or three names will be offered, together with contact details, and the person seeking direction will then be free to choose one of them and make contact for a first interview. It is understood that a person must feel comfortable with the director to whom he or she goes. For this reason, there will be a period of up to three months where the relationship can, as it were, be tested out. Either the person seeking direction or the director will both be free to terminate the arrangement during this period, or at any time afterwards. Indeed, it is suggested that an annual evaluation will also be useful to assess whether the spiritual direction is still working well for the person concerned.
Fees and contributions
The Centre has no fixed policy regarding fees for spiritual direction. Some directors charge and others do not. What is required is that those who do charge must make this known to the Centre and indicate the amount they charge. This information will be given to those asking for direction before they enter into any relationship.