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(2/2) Seeking & approaching spiritual director: 1st Meeting

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Spiritual Direction, The Process

approaching a spiritual directorIn our first post in this two part series we talked about the challenges and perspectives that can stifle our progress in taking the first step with a spiritual director. Now that you have prayed, read, and followed applicable advice, the next steps are easy. Don't worry that you are not an expert or that you might forget or fail to handle each aspect of this relationship perfectly. This is not the time for timidity or scrupulosity – it is a time to get moving in the right direction. Here is a basic list of suggestions (we obviously assume that you have chosen the person you will seek direction from):

  • Contact them and ask them for a 20 minute meeting to have a “brief discussion about your spiritual life.” You don't need to be elaborate here – just be brief and to the point. Don't despair if they don't have the time – consider it a sign that you need to look for someone else.
  • Prepare yourself for the meeting. Review the post “How should I prepare myself for a meeting with my spiritual director,” and do the work. Ensure that you limit your discussion to very specific goals or challenges you are facing.
  • Arrive at least five minutes before your scheduled time.
  • Be sure you have a notebook and pen in hand – and that the first page has a brief list of the two to five points you want to discuss.
  • Write down and repeat back the direction you received during the last five minutes of your meeting. Ask your director or potential director if you have properly understood their advice. This indicates that you are serious and are listening – a worthy investment of time.
  • End your appointment on time. Be careful to watch the clock if you tend to be gregarious and talkative. If you are obviously sensitive to their schedule, they will recognize that you value their time and will be more open to your next request. If you talk on and on and come in unprepared, be prepared for difficulty in getting follow-up meetings.
  • Offer a donation at the conclusion of the meeting. It is normal to offer at least $20.00 to $30.00 for a 1/2 hour. Use your own discretion but be sensitive to the fact that they have given up valuable time to serve you toward Christ – an invaluable gift that deserves our tangible generosity in response.
  • If all seems to go well, as you wrap up your meeting, ask if you can follow up later if you have more questions or need further insight. Ask your director what would be their preferred medium to do that (phone, email. or in person).
  • When you meet again, as you open your meeting, review what they advised you to do in the last meeting and update them on your progress, questions, difficulties, etc.

With these tools in hand, your next step is to get on the phone and set an appointment. Regardless of the outcome, you are being obedient to the call of God. He will reward your courage and diligence and provide what you lack. In due time, I am sure that “He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 4:9)

Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him



Art for this post on approaching a spriritual director: post graphic, unknown provenance, provided by Dan Burke. Feature Image: Ein ernstes Gespräch (A Serious Conversation), Ludwig Johann Passini, by 1902, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Tracy

    How do you approach the $ if your priest is your spiritual director?

    • Dear Tracy in Christ,

      If it were me, I would say, “I would like to offer you a donation in appreciation for your time.” If he refuses, insist. If he refuses again, ask if you can donate it on his behalf to someone in need in the church. The key here is to honor him and to practice generosity in return to God and to him and for such a substantive gift.

      In Christ

  • Guest

    Thank you, Fr. Dan for this article. I was wondering if there was a stipend for the sessions like I offer for the Mass. Now that you have clarified this point, I am eager to have the first meeting with the young Priest who graciously accepted my request to become my Spiritual Director. Pray for me and all of us who are beneffing so much spiritually from you articles. May God Bless you with a Spirit-filled 2010

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