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Spiritual Direction – A Bishop’s Perspective – Part I of III

February 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Spiritual Direction

Bishop’s Perspective on Spiritual Direction
(Part I of III)

Dear Catholic Spiritual Direction Friends,

A few of you know that I travel a great deal between Connecticut and Colorado. When I am in Connecticut my home parish is Our Lady of Lebanon, a parish of the Eparchy of Saint Maron in Brooklyn. I have had the opportunity to encounter Christ in Churches in Jerusalem, Rome and the United States and have participated in the liturgies of many different traditions within the Catholic Church. One of the most beautiful of these traditions is the Maronite rite. I strongly recommend that those among you who appreciate the depth and riches of our liturgical traditions attend at least one Maronite Mass. In this tradition you will discover there are at least three different languages commonly spoken, Aramaic (the native tongue of Christ), Arabic, and English. As well, most of the Mass is sung in the deeply moving chant tradition of the East. Maronites have cherished and preserved the riches of their liturgy in a way that is often hard to find in the west.

During a recent visit to Our Lady of Lebanon I came across the pastoral writings of Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron Brooklyn. I was moved by his honest and thoughtful exploration of prayer and the liturgy and the sacrament of penance. It was immediately obvious that Bishop Mansour is a man of prayer and depth. After a brief correspondence he agreed to write a few posts on the topic of spiritual direction. Below you will find the first of three. To find out more about Bishop Mansour and the beauty of the Maronite tradition, follow the links at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him,

Dan

Spiritual Direction — A Bishop’s Perspective (Part I of III)

My spiritual director, Father John King, S.J., died June 13, 2008, while I was in Lebanon. He suffered from a brain tumor that took him in two months. I visited him in the hospital and then in the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University. Two weeks before he died, during my last visit to him, I asked if his right hand still worked. “Are there any more blessings and pardon to be found there?” I placed his hand on my head; he smiled and thanked me for “being there” for him. John’s death was one more opportunity to “review my life,” as he would say each time he would give me absolution.

Beyond that of my parents, family, and friends, along with the ministry of Peter and the Church’s spiritual heritage, spiritual direction has been the most defining influence in my life. All during my seminary, priesthood, and service as bishop, I have seen my spiritual director on a consistent basis each month. Wise priests were my confessors and confidants. I hid nothing from them, and in each session I was challenged, comforted, advised, and – by the grace of God – absolved of my sins.

“Spiritual direction is not necessary for the ordinary Christian. But where there is a special mission or vocation a certain minimum of direction is implied by the very nature of the vocation itself.” These are the thoughts of Father Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, in his superb little book Spiritual Direction and Meditation. For those called to priesthood or religious life, spiritual direction is essential, but I would add that it is also essential for those who want to be more accountable, more honest with themselves, more generous with God and others, and more at peace with God and themselves. It may “not be necessary for the ordinary Christian,” but anyone who loves God and desires to do his will can benefit from this ancient discipline.

In my next post we will briefly explore the purpose of spiritual direction.

+Bishop Gregory John Mansour+

Bishop Mansour is the Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn within the Maronite rite of the Catholic Church. Click here to learn more about Bishop Mansour, and the riches of the Maronite Catholic tradition.

+

Art for this post on a Bishop’s perspective: photography provided by Dan Burke, unknown provenance. Feature image art: Ein ernstes Gespräch (A Serious Conversation), Ludwig Johann Passini, by 1903, 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 SpiritualDirection.com, 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, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. 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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  • songofsunday

    I agree. Through God’s goodness, I have a Spiritual Director now. We’ve spoken once and are scheduled to talk once a month for now. I am grateful for the guidance and encouragement towards Spiritual Direction within this website.

    Song

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Fantastic – be assured you are in our prayers!

  • Dolores Castro

    Thank you for all the formation and advise we receive through this website this is God sent.
    I have a question: can a Deacon be a spiritual director ?
    I had one Spiritual Director a very young holy priest for abou a year, he helped me so much on my spiritual journey that now after he had been transfed to the Cathidral to assist the Archbishop, i feel completely lost. hope to find someone as Spiritual as he was to whom I can entrust the difficulties of my soul.
    Hope to receive an answer, May God continually Bless your work
    Sister in Christ

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Dolores in Christ,

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement! The short answer is yes, a Deacon can be a good spiritual director. I suspect you might be under the impression that a spiritual director should be a priest or a nun. In fact, the most prominent spiritual directors in the early Church were laymen. So, good spiritual directors can be found among priests, deacons, religious, and laypeople. The key is that you find someone who is willing and able. Being able speaks to their solid formation and submission to the Church in all matters of faith and morals and having a strong spiritual life themselves. Being willing speaks to their belief that they can help and have the time to do so. Hope this helps.

      Pax Christi – Dan

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