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Spiritual Direction is NOT Spiritual Reading

Spiritual Direction is NOT Spiritual Reading


for post on how spiritual direction is not spiritual readingSpiritual reading is the practice of quietly reading and reflecting on a text that can help us better understand how to love God and others. Though this is most definitely an important practice it is not the same or even a good replacement for spiritual direction because it lacks the third most important element (besides you and the Holy Spirit)… a person who, in this present life, can help you understand God's work in your life! This may seem obvious but in hundreds of conversations (particularly on the internet) when the idea of spiritual direction comes up inevitably a well-intentioned and otherwise knowledgeable Catholic will offer book suggestions for “spiritual direction.” This occurs because, as with most people,  the person is unaware of the historic definition of terms and translates the phrase “spiritual direction” to mean the same thing as spiritual navigation, trajectory, or something similar. Though spiritual reading can help us improve the spiritual trajectory of our lives, it is only a substitute for the real thing if there are no other alternatives.

This is an excerpt from Dan’s book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. To learn more, click here.


Art for this post on how spiritual direction is not spiritual reading: 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, 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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  • You’re alive! 😀 It may not be direction per say, But as far spiritual reading or community guidance goes though gotta love this site! Right am gonna invite more people asap!

  • MelissaStacy

    I find this to be spot on!

  • Thank you, Dan. Yes, this has always been my understanding; that one needs a Director who can guide one on their Spiritual journey to understand how God is working in one’s life, and discern the Path He has marked out for one. A Director is especially essential to me to help me recognize just where my Root Sins and disorderly dispositions hide and advise and guide me on how to conquer them, or side-step the traps they daily lay on my path.

    • LizEst

      Praying for you, Mary.

  • Peg

    Please keep me in prayer as I search for a SD that will understand me and guide me into a deeper relationship with God.

    Thank you.

    • Be assured of my prayers Peg.

      • Peg

        Thank you, Dan. I am grateful for all the prayers I can get.

        PS: I’m so happy your book is finally out, I’ve been looking forward to reading it for some time now.

    • LizEst

      Praying for you, Peg.

    • Yes, Peg. I, too,  shall all pray for you.  We are a Family that walks together.

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