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Should I pay my spiritual director? A lay spiritual director responds

Dear Friends, after I posted “Should I pay my spiritual director?” a reader sent me a note that I though would provide some important perspective on this matter. This came in response to negative comments regarding the idea of spiritual directors receiving payments for their services. Here's her note:

for post on shoudl i pay my spiritual directorI find myself called to be a lay spiritual director, yet my husband and I struggle on one income to make ends meet for our family. Hopefully, I do not have to choose between ministering or not ministering to souls because of money. If it is a choice between working at local department store or requesting a suggested donation, the answer is obvious in terms of the spiritual fruits. While spiritual direction is a not a “flashy” ministry, it is a “sure” ministry that helps many souls to persevere and grow. Over the last few years, I have wrestled with this topic of asking for a stipend and come to the following conclusions after a lot of prayer, discernment, research, and discussion regarding this controversial issue.

As a lay spiritual director, the most disconcerting comments sounded something like, “but lay people are only called to contribute to the temporal order,” “only a priest or nun should request donations,” or even “if you accept money, you will might only give the advice your directee wants to hear.” These comments  amount to  ignorance and “clericalism”(a pre-Vatican II concept that religious are holier and more equipped to be a channel for God so lay people need not apply).  The key to any good spiritual direction is not the directors’ state in life… but the director’s life of holiness, certification (note that not all priests and religious are trained as spiritual directors), the call and charism for this ministry, and life experience.

Financial reimbursement makes sense if a spiritual director regularly dedicates 2, 5, 10, or 20 hours a week to this ministry. All spiritual directors need to eat, wear cloths, use the internet, fuel their cars, pay mortgages, and relax, just like you do. They give countless hours, energy, and money to serve souls. There is the cost of initial and ongoing training in various topics as well as regular personal retreats so the spiritual director can be a true conduit for the Lord. Most spiritual directors make many hidden sacrifices for their souls. Dan is correct that some diocesan and congregational priests, religious, and lay consecrated folks live real poverty, as do many lay ministers. Finding some way to compensate directors, even if they say they don’t accept or need money, shows respect for the director as a real person and for the ministry. Unfortunately, many evangelization efforts fizzle because of a lack of funds.

And isn’t it true that people often value something to the extent that they sacrifice for it? Most do not blow off a visit to the doctor, his advice or forget to take their prescriptions.  Same with a counselor. Most do not bat an eye about highlights for their hair or a bowling league fee. They plan ahead and invest in an academic education. Or how about that $100 to $1,000 weekend of fun or a shopping spree? Sometimes, requesting a donation “weeds out” those who are not, yet, serious about their spiritual journey.

That said, if at all possible, no one should be refused spiritual direction because of an inability to give a stipend.   There are people who simply can’t afford a donation: college students and young adults are striving to eat more than Ramen noodles for dinner; young families on single incomes, large families, or small double income families struggle just to provide a healthy lifestyle for their children; the elderly on fixed incomes watch the inflation rate; those with medical issues and inadequate insurance have enough stress. For these, $20 can break the budget! Most of us have been there at one time or another, and it is quickly apparent to the spiritual director who can and can’t honestly contribute.

Mt 10:8 states, “freely you have received, so give freely.” However, Mt 10:10 states that “the worker is worth his keep.” Spiritual directors or even certification programs may have different preferences or opinions regarding the justice of stipends: some require while others refuse. Perhaps the ideal situation is when the local Church compensates spiritual directors as it does priests. Unfortunately, most local churches are struggling financially or may not yet see how spiritual direction contributes to a vibrant Catholic Christian community. In this scenario, it is also crucial that directees have a choice in directors so they can go to someone they like and trust.

In any case, the Church should not suffer because of this issue: spiritual directors will need to sacrifice personally as well as lean on the generosity of those who can afford the suggested stipend.

Just my “two cents” J. God bless you all, and thanks for keeping up the posts, Dan. I look forward to reading your book.

For an opportunity to learn more about spiritual direction and the interior life, click here.

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Art for this post: Christ and Saint Mina [or Menas], iconographer unknown, 6th-century icon from Bawit, Egypt, PD-US author's life plus 70 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, 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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  • Mary@42

    Though I was “AWOL” attending a Retreat and did not participate in the previous Post on this Subject, my simple, straight-forward response is direct. I pay my Parish a Stipend when I want Holy Mass Celebrated for my departed loved ones, or for any other purpose. I pay a stipend for my grand-child infant to be baptized, and I love that!!!!!. It is certainly right and a blessings-filled gesture to pay a Stipend to your Spiritual Director, whether lay, Clergy, Man or Woman Religious. Holy Mother Church teaches us thus.

  • I agree, it is just to pay a spiritual director. Although, as I have told those who come to me, at this time, I am not accepting a stipend for direction because I am currently an apprentice in the ministry. At the same time, if I were to incur costs, such as a charge from my mentor or a charge for the office where we meet…then I will ask something to “help” defray my cost. They also know that this may change in the future due to financial need.

    • $1650412

      I have very strong feelings about this issue.
      If the directee desires to honor the sacrifice of the director’s time, then I think the directee should work to find a discreet and anonymous means to aid the director, which I have no doubt the Lord Jesus Christ will provide creatively- but I cannot say it strongly enough, but NOT as a recompense or payment for time or services rendered. (This is not the same as a stipend to a priest for Masses offered, or a gift to a religious whose primary apostolate is prayer. In my mind that is a whole different thing. When one makes a sacrifice of prayer and another gives alms for their support, the almsgiver unites himself to and participates in offering of the sacrifice- but to my mind, spiritual direction is a different animal- not the same kind of thing- although the sacrifice of time and training to give SD maybe huge for the director.)We know spiritual aid is not a commodity or a product, but a free gift and I think we have to work very hard to make sure that remains abundantly clear to people. As soon as we, as westerners with a predominant consumerist mentality driving so many of the aspects of our culture, make it customary for people to ‘pay’ for spiritual direction we will see the ‘money changers in the temple’ and the very serious negative side effects of that. Already we have a much wider gap in our church ministries between faith, really living apostolic faith in ministry, and planning, preparation, and provision for programs to lead people and strengthen them in Christ Jesus. The side effects of this are the development of complicated motives, a competing concern for the secular cost over doing the will of God; a lack of interest or participation because of an ill-conceived sense of immediate benefit etc.

      • Becky Ward

        Amen!!

  • Michelle

    If I were to offer my spiritual director, a parish priest, money for his time directing me he would gasp!! He considers it his duty and obligation to lead us to heaven, and is within his scope of “job description” as a priest. He knows he has my prayers and that is my offering to him. No money involved in this case.

    • jcmeg56

      I do not offer my spiritual director (my parish priest-confessor) payment for spiritual direction directly, but at the end of the last year I did give him an offering in honor of my consecration to Jesus through Mary, which the Lord put on my heart to do. It was the equivalent of about $30 per session, but that was not an intentional calculation on my part, just how it worked out in light of the sessions I counted with him in light of this post. He accepted it graciously and sent a lovely thank you note.

      • LizEst

        Wow! I’m always impressed when a priest sends a thank you note. Treasure that. They are so busy, they hardly have time for all the social niceties. The last one that wrote one to me was a number of years ago. The one I got before that came from a priest who has since gone on to his eternal reward.

  • JRKH

    This is something of a difficult subject to be sure. We know for example that the itinerant Apostles would stay with people in whatever town they came into…Receiving from them, and from the general community, for their immediate needs. We likewise know that Paul, a tent maker by trade, would work at his trade while staying in a city – even as he worked to build up the kingdom. How can we translate these ancient workings and understandings into something workable in our modern economic and cultural model?
    It seems obvious that there is no clear answer…Charging can be abused – as someone already pointed out – with a director tailoring their advise to garner more money. Not Charging could prevent truly good people from either entering the field due to economic considerations.
    I favor a combination – based on trust and on faith that God will provide. Some, sliding scale, suggested donation (cash or possibly “trade”), in keeping with the verse “the worker is worthy of his keep” – but the worker should not expect to get financially rich either…

    Peace
    James

  • jk4dios

    Thank you, JoFlemings. I agree with you and, like you, have very strong feelings about this. Much spiritual direction goes on in the confessional. Are we now to be paying for that sacrament? If I want/need fee-for-service counseling, I’ll go to someone with a PhD or MD after their name. I’ve been blessed at times in my like with wonderful spiritual directors and suffered without them at others. But I can tell you that they would have been horrified to be offered money. If I see someone hurting because of what they provide to me, then I would try to fill that need quietly or, more likely, remove myself from being a burden to them. Otherwise, what are you thinking?! I repeat, I am horrified by this because it reeks, to me, of simony.

    • Actually, spiritual direction is rare in the confessional… I have never experienced a priest “horrified” to be offered a small gift in contrast to the great gift they have given me. In fact, I have experienced very little to no resistance. If there is resistance, I simply slide the envelope across the table anyway. With respect to the idea of simony, here’s a post to help you understand what simony actually is. http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/tags/fee-for-spiritual-direction

      • jk4dios

        Your link simply returns me to this site. Certain groups, such as Opus Dei suggest/require spiritual direction be done in the confessional, at least with women, as a matter of prudence for the priest. My reading of the entry for simony in The Catholic Encyclopedia leads me to think that one should be very cautious. Perhaps my experience with priests as spiritual directors, and ones of a “conservative” bent has given me a different take on this subject than the majority. I retain, however, the thought that if a priest of my parish is my spiritual director, it is somehow off-kilter to pay him to meet with me. This whole line leaves me greatly saddened.

  • Pam@

    Well said Jo. Spiritual Direction is a gift NOT a job. If you need money go elsewhere. An added benefirt…as the above somewhat touched on…your time is limited to a certain number of souls due to it NOT being a job, this is divine order. If people HAVE to pay, and the ill informed will see it that way, they will not come and Christ call “Let the little children come to me” will NOT be answered. If the guided soul is inspired he should, once discerned, offer to God’s choice and it may be a gift to the director, but it may be someone else, only God knows what balance is needed. Another aspect, when paid, spirtual direction becomes counseling NOT direction. I liken spriitual direction to Holy Mass and confession, if an entrance fee was necessary…
    Enough said. I would suggest the reader in the business of sprititual direction and justification of fees taken reexamine her/his conscience on the time spent in ministry, balance is the key and it is and injustice to the souls in care to “feel” it is a job!

  • Alison O’Konski

    After reading this, I am absolutely shocked that some directors may ask for a fee. I have very little extra money. So little that I need to budget my gas usage. I am embarrassed to say it’s so bad that I’ve had to miss Mass once or twice this past year because I knew I didn’t have the gas to get me to work through the week. I have had problems in the past finding a good spiritual director. I haven’t seen one in a few years because of my financial situation – I simply cannot get to one (unless they were very close to me). However, if and when I get back on my feet, I am going to be very hesitant now that I know an extra obstacle is going to keep me from finding a good one. Honestly, if I were looking for a spiritual director, I don’t care how many recommendations they got, I would not trust one who asked for a fee. In my mind money corrupts. I know it would corrupt me, even if I asked for the most modest fee. And the passage about “God and mammon” really hits home in my mind.
    Now, if I were more affluent than I am now, I would probably have a much different opinion. But since I’m not, I have a very strong distrust of those that require or prefer monetary compensation for the sake of advancing in holiness. My own misuse of money that ended in a bankruptcy a few years ago, thus resulting in my situation now has taught me something – and I’m also painfully aware of how easy it is to go back to the way I was. I’m trying very hard to become less dependent on material things. Finding out that there are actually spiritual directors that require or prefer a fee is very upsetting to me. I may very well stick to books for a while. When I read St. Teresa of Avila or St. Faustina I long for a spiritual director like theirs who gave them sound advice (I know some of them did not, but they are not who I’m referring to). Reading this makes me feel as if that’s impossible now.

    • Pat

      Of course there are so many sides to this issue, but being married and a low income senior who needs the approval of a spouse as to most financial expenditures, as well as having a spouse for whom spiritual direction is not a value, it was discouraging to think that anyone who desires to grow spiritually would not be able to have the support of a spiritual director because they couldn’t afford it. From the four priest spiritual directors I’ve been blessed to have along the way, it actually never occurred to me to pay. The Church is a place where one can go for help despite their financial situation. If one has the means to make a donation now and then, by all means do so; also priests appreciate the gift of prayer on their behalf. I suppose I should not speak on behalf of priests, but this has been my experience with priests. Lay directors may be different.

      • Dear friend, I am distressed at your discouragement. Please consider that this is the enemy turning your heart to something the post doesn’t say and that we don’t advocate on this site. The truth about this matter and about our Lord’s provision is never discouraging. The distortion of the enemy is discouraging for those who allow themselves to succumb to it. I have been amazed at the responses to this topic and am now convinced that the energy behind the responses is not one that is inspired by the Spirit of God. The reason is that many of those who have responded, are not responding to what has been written but by something else outside of the information and perspective itself. So, we combat lies and distortion with truth. What is the truth? If you need spiritual direction and can’t afford it, ask. 100% of the directors I have seen require and ask for absolutely nothing. Who have I seen? Here’s a short list: Fransciscans, diocesan priests from the US, a diocesan priest from Africa, Legionaries, an Opus Dei Priest… So, go and ask and do what you can to respond to their gift with what you can return. If it is prayer, then it is prayer. If it is service, then it is service… give something as they give so much to help your soul to heaven.

        • Pat

          I was really responding to Alison; I have a wonderful priest spiritual director from a local Benedictine Abbey. I am monumentally blessed to have him. We contribute what we can directly to the Abbey. I must admit, however, that I have a sensitive conscience and was bothered by the suggestion of having to pay for spiritual direction. Thank you for easing my mind.

        • Alison O’Konski

          I admit that that in writing my response I was thinking that giving something back to the spiritual director does not have to be monetary; and in that I am in all agreement. I don’t have money but I can give in many other ways, especially prayer. I consider prayer to be so much more beneficial than money, and can’t imagine that a SD would want money over prayer. It is disheartening to know that there are now (and perhaps always was?) people asking for money in order to assist others to advance in holiness. This is such a pity for both parties. Before reading this post I never imagined in my wildest dreams a spiritual director asking for money. Perhaps if I had read at some point during a saint’s life that their spiritual director had accepted money as compensation I would have reacted differently. But never have I read this, and therefore I was shocked and saddened over this post.

          • Alison O’Konski

            I think I need to clarify, however, that in my original response, I was not criticising the poster. I understand they are struggling with what to do or not do. This seems to be a familiar constant in my life as well. However, it was something they said, markedly: ” Spiritual directors or even certification programs may have different preferences or opinions regarding the justice of stipends: some require while others refuse.” that caught me well off guard.

          • It might be helpful to note that there is no school that I am aware of that suggests that a director require a fee. I think this was poorly worded – she was trying to make the point that directors are not all on the same page about this.

          • Alison O’Konski

            Thank you for the clarification. I was worried about that particular statement.

          • You are welcome. I was puzzled over your response until I went back and read the post again…

  • Ralyge

    I always find it interesting that no matter what organization you are assisting with, who you are talking with, or even what the topic is, when $ comes up, everyone gets passionately involved (sometimes insanely so). Whether we are directors or directees, may our passion for Jesus Christ be stronger than our concern about $. I really like James comment below.

  • Guest

    JoFlemings,
    I agree completely with you, especially about the “predominant consumerist mentality” that creeps into the mentality of even some dedicated Catholics. We must re-evaluate our own psychology of money, in that our minds are not skewed by the consumerist culture. Father Thomas Dubay, among all of his other priceless writings, left us with a wonderful book called “Blessed Are You Poor” that gives an eye-opening perspective on the evangelical counsel of poverty. Highly recommended! http://www.amazon.com/Happy-Are-You-Poor-Spiritual/dp/0898709210/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341503915&sr=8-1&keywords=happy+are+you+poor

  • GHM_52

    Spiritual direction may not be a job, but spiritual directors are human and as such have needs that need to be taken care of. If spiritual directors are “horrified” at being offered money after they have listened to and helped a soul in need, it may be that they are financially comfortable and do not need any additional funds to take care of their needs. I am “horrified” at people who, being quite able to offer a donation to their spiritual do not. In my experience, those people usually do not balk at spending money on quite a few things they don’t need. If we really understand the value of spiritual direction, whether our director is a priest, a monk/nun, or a lay person, we should feel joyfully duty-bound to offer him/her a donation according to our financial ability. Moreover, we should be predisposed to offering a donation even if in doing so we would have to forgo the pleasure of buying something we don’t really need or need much less than we need spiritual direction. If the director refuses our donation, we should still give it, if not to the director, then to our church or the director’s church or favorite charity. Christians are called to be VERY generous, especially to those who care for our souls. It really never ceases to
    amaze me how frequently christians are the first to make innumerable objections to opening their pockets for anything related to spiritual services that they need, seek, and often demand.

    • MelissaStacy

      I think this is my case…I feel “joyfully duty-bound” to pay a fee for spiritual direction. I see a religious sister, who has taken a vow of poverty. The money I give her for guidance goes to her religious order. I struggle a bit to do this financially, but feel whatever I sacrifice or give up to make it happen is well worth the effort and is good for my soul.

      • I really like your sentiment here – “joyfully duty-bound.”

        • MelissaStacy

          I really like it, too! Thanks to GHM_52 – I was quoting his/her words in response to their post. I put the words in italics, but when I quote someone next time I’ll be more clear. 🙂

  • nameless

    What is the price for our Salvation? “The Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ our Lord!” Should one pays for ones spiritual needs as one has to pay for one’s daily food and all the necessities that keep one alive? Yes, this is for that “Priceless Pearl!” What is the worth of one’s immortal soul? From where have the money came that built the cathedrals, churches, Catholic schools, monasteries? The spiritual needs of the faithfuls who made sacrifices for the salvation of their souls and their neighbors’. We are the recipients of their sacrifices. Should we pass it onto those who are in need while providing us with a Sacrificial Enlightening gift for the benefit of our souls? Make a Sacrifice!

  • Sue

    A parish priest has been my spiritual director for over 30 years. We have discussed a stipend over these many years and always he says: “No”. In fact, he is a most generous soul and tells me I am gift in his life. I think if you really feel called to be directed by someone and they ask for a stipend, it should be paid. If not, do for others what he/she does for you. Be generous, Use your gifts. Lay down your life for the other and know that your selflessness with others is payment enough. In the final accounting, when we fully realize what it
    means to be “body of Christ”, it will all even out.

  • LizEst

    I think one could add extra to the Sunday collection or to a particular project or to the sd’s favorite charity (if one were talking about a priest sd or someone that doesn’t ask for remuneration). This way you are being grateful but not being obvious. The other thing is that if you gave a monetary remuneration and received a negative reaction, you could always, with a big smile, tell the sd to please give it to someone/some organization really in need, their choice!

    Other than funds, if you have a particular skill the sd might be in need of, you could cook a meal, bake, fix something for them, design a website, give them a free haircut, give them a book of tickets for free car washes or movies or a prepaid gas card or restaurant gift certificate, put in a garden for them, pave their driveway, share fruits and vegetables from your garden. Did you butcher a cow? A gift of extra meat is nice so they can cook out with their priest friends or their family. Do you own a snowplow? You could plow out their driveway for free! How about mowing the lawn for them? Some of these gifts might also benefit the parish. A two-fer! An extra set of the Liturgy of the Hours is great for the priest who tends to forget his (he could keep the extra one in his car). A gift certificate to the local Catholic book store is helpful, too.

    Above all, the gift of prayer is always welcome. If it is not, then you may want to prayerfully consider seeing a different director.

  • I pay my spiritual director. She accepts only what I can afford. She is a trained therapist as well, and all of her payments go to support her order of Franciscan Sisters. She is worth her weight in gold, and I have gained so much from her.

  • Alexandra Campbell

    Perhaps we need to differentiate between spiritual direction done as a profession, like therapy, and spiritual direction done by a consecrated religious (priest, nun, monk). The spiritual direction done by lay people who have been trained (for a fee) and educated, like I was when I was trained as a psychologist, may simply be a new emerging profession, to be differentiated from those who offer direction as part of their life call in ministry where they have their financial needs taken care of by the diocese or order that they belong to. If we see it as two different things we may be able to build a set of ethical practice guidelines for lay spiritual directors who obviously need to be paid in order to offer the service.

    I would personally rather have a holy priest be my director but I know they are unable to keep up with the demand that is now beginning to be filled by lay directors being trained in the new schools for this. If I went to a priest for direction I would think that the free will gift to the priest or to another ministry would be appropriate. But if, in order to meet the needs, a whole group of talented people are willing to invest the time and money to be trained, then they should be paid for their work. This is obviously to be made clear up front.

    No decent therapist would consciously, at least, allow the fact that they are receiving payment cause them to keep a client in treatment longer than needed, there are always new clients if you are any good and you trust in God to bring you new therapy clients. In like manner, I am sure that a talented lay spiritual director with the proper credentials is not going to couch what they say to a directee in order to keep the money rolling in. That is just insulting, although the field may draw its share of unscrupulous, unethical practitioners. As we all know there an unscrupulous greedy people in every calling in life, including the priesthood. We have to use our discernment to make sure we are talking to someone who is trustworthy and genuine in their desire to assist us in any area of life where we need help (e.g., medical, legal fields, etc.)

    I would be willing to bet that this discussion is being had in the schools of spiritual direction. Perhaps there is even a national association that is or will be created to develop the guidelines for this field. I am going to bring it all to the Holy Spirit in prayer and He will guide us into all truth!

    • Interesting thoughts. A faithful organization does not exist that oversees or provides guidelines for these kinds of things. There is one organization but they have no concern for the exclusive claims of Christ and the Church. With respect to discussion at the schools, you are right. Dr. Ron Novatny, the head of the school offered at the Marian Servants of Divine providence, discourages the charging of fees.

    • Becky Ward

      Alexandra, praying is a great idea!
      To be a spiritual director is a calling, whether as laity or religious….and yes, priests should be trained in this area as part of their formation but often aren’t, or they don’t feel comfortable giving direction.

      The work is for the soul…….a good director knows they are acting as a channel of God’s grace…. both in listening to what a directer is saying……and in listening to the Holy Spirit to discern how to respond.

      It is a very dangerous idea to separate lay directors – from priests or religious…..some lay directors are better than many priests in providing SD.

      How much easier would this whole issue be if Spiritual Directors were not allowed to charge a fee for their services? With few exceptions, we would know that they are there strictly to help their brothers and sisters on the journey to God.

  • LizEst

    This is not unlike the social justice thing and the requirement to care for the poor, the hungry, the naked. We can’t force people to donate money to worthy causes. We cannot take, by force or by edict, the money people have rightfully earned and give that to those in need. That is simply stealing and worse. The conundrum is that it is incumbent on us, as Christians, to give. It’s part of our identity. We live our lives according to Christ; and, we must feel the need in our hearts to care for others, to give of ourselves and our means. Giving, pouring oneself out, is what God has done for us from the beginning of time. We must go and do the same.

    Likewise, it is with any service we receive. Spiritual Directors, in general, don’t ask for payment in exchange for guiding us in our spiritual journey because it is a spiritual gift. But, a thankful, Eucharistic, heart will find a way to generously express that gratitude, be it prayer, an effusive thank you note, financial remuneration, skills or services given either directly or indirectly. Even the poorest of the poor can give the gift of prayer. Remember what Jesus said of the lepers he healed, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

  • Patti Day

    I have been praying for quite a while to find a spiritual director. The idea of paying a stipend or donation never entered my mind as an obstacle. I have noticed that the cost of an undirected retreat at a monastery is less than that of one with a spiritual director, so there must be a component to support that additional offering. If the Holy Spirit makes a spiritual director available to me, I will happily give a stipend and not feel any anguish over it.

  • MAC

    Keep in mind when decideing whether to pay a spiritual director or not that there are expenses incurred by the spiritual director; education from a certificate program, the 2-4 years of attending a program, ongoing education, rent on meeting space, gas. Just because it is a ministry doesn’t mean there are not financial obligations as well.

  • Laura

    If I need a Christian counsellor, professionally trained and answerable to a diocese or order, I will pay for one gladly. Otherwise there is too much opportunity for spiritual harm and outright abuse. My friends and the Saints are sufficient spiritual direction until I need the help of a professional.

    Concerning what “nameless” said about the price of salvation, those are dangerous waters to wade into and we have to be extremely careful with our words. We don’t pay human beings for salvation, ever.
    If you say we need to pay lay (uncredentialed) spiritual directors, by the same logic we would have to pay the Faith Formation teachers, Bible study coordinators, and RCIA sponsors. And Church would go from Acts 2:44 to Acts 8:20-21 in a hurry.

    • LizEst

      re “lay (uncredentialed) spiritual directors”: Those lay Catholic Spiritual Directors or Spiritual Guides that I know all have credentials and have undergone lengthy training (years) at significant expense. I have not yet met a lay Catholic Spiritual Director or Spiritual Guide who has not had to meet rigorous standards before they can call themselves such. In addition, this is a calling. You can’t just decide to become one! God has to call you to that ministry, which must be discerned by both the person in question and by a number of different individuals who are part of the process.

      Lay Faith Formation teachers, bible study coordinators and RCIA sponsors do not always have certificates or credentials. But, word of warning, some do! In fact, some have Masters and Doctoral degrees they have received from Catholic seminaries and universities and have extensive experience in the spiritual specialty they assist the Church/parish with. When these people work as volunteers, they rarely receive compensation. When they hold a professional position, as a lay minister, that is something they are called to and they should be paid for their labors.

      • Well said. There are three solid schools in the US that provide these credentials. One word of caution, I have been to several directors who have not had credentials but were fantastic. That said, it is important for folks to invest in their capabilities to engage meaningfully in this effort. If they don’t make that investment you might find that they undervalue the incredibly serious nature of caring for souls. Most critical is that they have a deep and constant relationship with Christ.

        • LizEst

          Amen!

  • Sonia

    “The energy behind the responses is not inspired by the Spirit of God?”. Thank Heaven that we have the freedom of thought not to be bound to say what pleases, but what our intellect and heart tell us! An honest response is not the “work of the Enemy”, even and perhaps especially when it doesn’t agree with the community. Everyone has a different impulse of thought about payment of spiritual directors. But it is not right to characterize the opinions one doesn’t agree with as being inspired by the Enemy of our souls.

    • Dear Sonia, you have misunderstood my comment. However, I am grateful for yours as it provides me with an opportunity to clarify. The bottom line is that the comment you are objecting to had nothing to do with the idea that someone disagreed with me (I didn’t write the post and have been neutral on the topic). It had to do with the idea that someone would be discouraged from some spiritual good (spiritual direction) because of an idea (payment for spiritual direction) that in and of itself does not necessitate such a compulsion. What do I mean? The Spirit of God will never lead us away from himself. If someone says, “I am discouraged from going to spiritual direction” there is no way that this sentiment is rooted in God. In this case, if you follow the dialogue you will see that one reader significantly misunderstood the post (which I did not write by the way). They reacted to a false perception of what was truly intended. To restate my point, the Spirit of God never repels people away from Himself or some spiritual good that will bring them to Him. So, if someone is being repelled away, it is rooted in three sources other than God. This was my point. I hope this helps.

      • One other thought is in order here. My comment was not meant to characterize the opinion’s of others as sourced in the enemy for the purposes of punishment or putting their thoughts in a bad light because of their disagreement. Whenever I say such anything like this, I mean it in the same spirit as someone shouting “lookout!” when the other person is about to run their car into a pole. My motive is love, not chastisement or some form of control. I suspect that if I had been more gentle in my wording that this would have been more evident.

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