An Ignatian spiritual director is a Christian committed to the Lord's service and feels called to provide this service to others. In most cases this person has been personally directed in the practice of daily prayer with scripture for at least a year or two, and must complete additional formation before becoming credentialed (certified) to direct others.

Spiritual Direction is called holy LISTENING. A trained spiritual director helps to throw light on the ordinary ground of every day human experience. It is out of ordinary experience in which extraordinary acts of spiritual courage and perseverance are borne. In many ways the practice of spiritual direction lies in uncovering the obvious in daily life, and in realizing that mundane events are the means by which God tries to reach us.

Spiritual direction is not psychotherapy nor is it pastoral counseling - it is a covenanted relationship. The director agrees to put herself/himself aside so that their total attention can be focused on the person sitting in the other chair. It is about holy listening, presence and loving attention.

Direction is not essentially problem centered but growth-centered. It is concerned with the development of those seeking to explore and enhance their spirituality rather than sorting out difficulties and disease. Human life isn't worth living without our willingly accepting responsibility for our behaviors yet it would be too heavy a burden without the possibility of forgiveness. Those of us who hope for a more caring and humane world had better be aware of forgiveness both human and divine if we are going to navigate the stormy seas of human relations. So much pain can be avoided when we know how to frame questions about our longings and are willing to forgive even as we seek justice or accountability.

Spiritual direction at its best does just this.

The good spiritual director meets the person right where they are. At the beginning the interviews are usually weekly where the directee's experience in daily prayer periods of the past week is discussed. The Director helps the person find their own way without imposing a particular way upon the directee. The director is not there to supply answers but to suggest questions for the directee to think and pray about. Good direction is to do with trusting that the Holy Spirit is at work in the relationship, not just in the director and directee. It can be said that spiritual direction is a Trinitarian encounter.

A director helps the directee to recognize, pay attention to and respond to God's specific self-communication in life, prayer and relationships. These help directees:
  • to become aware, savor and enjoy the affective touches of God;
  • to notice differences that take place because of their affective experiences of God;
  • to explore God's seeming absence;
  • to recognize, explore and uncover any resistance, darkness and lack of freedom that can prevent an individual response to God's presence;
  • to sift through interior movements and grow in deeper intimacy to God, so they can experience greater interior freedom, deeper joy, more Grace filled decisions, a more integrated life and healthier relationship with self, others and world;
  • to become attentive to movements toward and away from God;

The director is to listen in non-judgmental and accepting way and give concrete suggestions for prayer based on the experience shared, always sending them back to God in prayer.

Inspired by:

The Art of Spiritual Direction by M. Guenther
Looking into the Well by Maureen Conroy
Prayer Companion Handbook by John Wickham
Care of Mind and Spirit by Gerald May