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Spiritual Direction is NOT a Just Me and Jesus or the Holy Spirit Effort

Spiritual Direction is NOT a Just Me and Jesus Effort


for post on how spiritual direction is not just a me and Jesus or the Holy Spirit effortThose that struggle with self-disclosure or a lack of understanding of the definition and benefits of spiritual direction sometimes end up in this comfortable but dangerous trap.  As we will discuss later, God has chosen to use human instruments to shape, mold, and bring us closer to him. This is because it can be very dangerous to direct oneself; the devil lurks in that ‘blind spot’ and waits to attack; others can see our faults and weaknesses better than we can, and a good director can tell us what’s hiding in our ‘blind spot’.  It is extremely rare that anyone seeking to deepen their faith will find themselves in circumstances where God violates His chosen means for our growth.  Unless you are a desert hermit, you are not likely to fall into this category (and even hermits have spiritual directors).

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


What is spiritual direction and my spiritual direction? What are my “blind spots” and how can I uncover them? What keeps me from all the spiritual riches Christ has for me? How can I better understand where I am in my spiritual progress?

Daniel Burke’s Navigating the Interior Life will give you the tools you need to understand how and why we grow and die in the spiritual life and what we can do about it.


Art for this post on how spiritual direction is not a just me and Jesus and the Holy Spirit effort: 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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  • LizEst

    God’s chosen means for our growth is seen throughout Scripture, even in Old Testament times. “If you see a man of prudence, seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep!” (Sirach 6:36)

  • Jackie

    I think it is very difficult to find that one person that is as you say…”a man of prudence”. I have one I correspond with online who has come to know me well but it is not the same as one on one. I tried a person through our church who was recommended to me but unfortunately I was given some advice that went against my conscience. Most priests do not have time and their “doorstep” is a busy one. So I continue to “seek” and do the best I can on my own. When I can I will purchase this book as it looks to be a good one.

    • LizEst

      I agree that Sirach’s “man of prudence” can be difficult to find…and on-line is not the same as one on one. Yes, most priests do not have the time to do so; but, many, many priests do make the time as they understand this is part of their ministry. I know very busy pastors who spends good chunks of time directing souls. So, don’t give up. Entrust your search to the Lord and keep asking until you find a good one.

      Regarding your question, in this post, Dan says the publisher has committed to having the book out by late October:

    • $30899374

      Seriously! How can you have spiritual direction and beg of a person to find your blind spot online?

      • Believe it or not, it can sometimes be very easy to detect where a person’s blindspot is through online correspondence. It is much easier in person but it is possible on line and through written correspondence.

  • CFS

    It may take many many years for some people to be able to open up to another person in this way. Others search for a spiritual director without success. In the meantime they make use of the sacraments and other helps that God gives them. Even without a spiritual director those helps are many.

  • tyler maxwell

    When I think of a Spiritual direction I always picture Elijah and Elisha. I love the imagery in 1 Kings 19 : 19-21 where the Prophet threw his cloak upon elisha…. I had been away from Holy Mother Rome for over twelve years! And , then one night I had a dream and a Woman of Asian descent appeared and said nothing but held out her arms as if beckoning me to come and rest with Her… In the dream I was frightened , I felt too sinful and impure to touch Her. But , She moved closer and I asked her who she was? But, she just shooshed me and embraced me… I awoke shaking and in tears … I drew a basic sketch the next morning because I did not understand who she was. I found out later she was Our Lady of La Vang! She has come some more in my dreams and she was the one who led me to this website and back to God’s true Church! I sometimes desire to be back in time when Monasteries were abundant and we could knock on the door and find a Spiritual Direction. I know the Lord has a plan for my life and I will wait upon the mercy of Jesus to lead me to my spiritual mentor…

  • ThirstforTruth

    A Spiritual Director is a unique gift from God but really I find it impossible to have that in my life in the sense you mean it. Many have said this is true for them also. I think God has innumerable ways of guiding us spiritually. I find frequent reception of the sacraments, spiritual reading, and membership in a parish prayer group and bible study contribute to my spiritual life. Getting rid of the distractions in my life goes a very, very long way towards opening my mind and my heart to God. Culling friends of like spiritual thought and practice also encourages me. In short, knowing and loving God should not be impossible or unattainable without the warm body of a human spiritual director per se. Spiritual direction comes in many, many ways. Keeping my relationship wuth God as simple as possible and open and uncomplicated, free from distractions, is my responsibility. And yes, websites such as this help me also to grow in ways I might not think of on my own. I don’t think we should be discouraged if God does not gift us with a spiritual director. We can and should pray for one if God allows but know there are innumerable ways that God blesses us with His Presence (try for instance sitting in front of the Tabernacle in silence). If we invite Him in He will come. I don’t believe that God with-holds any gift He feels we need to grow closer to Him. If we ask He will give it to us unless He feels there is a better way. Trust in the Lord is
    the real foundation for our relationship with our heavenly Father. Listen and learn from HIm, Jesus tells us. I am not denigrating the importance of a personal spiritual director but in reality most of us will have to grow without one. Since I fall into this category I find this website makes a great substitute and most beneficial.

    • aswdwy, read these Sentences again, very, very slowly :

      “As we will discuss later,
      God has chosen to use human instruments to shape, mold, and bring us closer to him. This is because it can be very dangerous to direct oneself; the devil lurks in that ‘blind spot’ and waits to attack; others can see our faults and weaknesses better than we can, and a good director can tell us what’s hiding in our ‘blind spot” .

      Some holy man also said this, or words to this effect : “one who becomes their own Spiritual Direction has a fool for a Spiritual Director”.

      Pray to God to give you someone who can assist you to grow in your Faith. Your Eternal Destiny depends on this, my beloved. Do not gamble with it.

    • aswdwy, I may have come through as a bit opionated in response you yesterday. But this entry from Saint Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul – which was part of our study at our Weekly Cenacle Group yesterday, shows how important one should pray to have a Spiritual Director in one’s Spiritual journey.

      She writes in Diary No.139: “Still, a soul which is faithful to God cannot confirm its own inspirations; it must submit them to the control of a very wise and learned Priest (Spiritual Director); and until it is quite certain, it should remain distrustful . It should not on its own initiative alone, put its trust in these inspirations and all other higher graces, because it can thus expose itself to great losses…….” God is pleased and rejoices when a soul distrusts Him for His own sake; because it loves Him, it is prudent and itself asks and searches for help to make certain that it is really God who is acting within it…….”. The inspirations she is writing about here, are those she received directly from Jesus Himself.

      This Saint Faustina, was so highly blessed that she often saw Jesus Christ personally during Consecration when He took over from the Priest and consecrated Himself to the Heavenly Father, then inside the elevated Host during Consecration, at the Exposition during Benediction. He appeared and talked to her many times in her short lifetime from the time He appeared to her in the Dancing Floor when she was 20 years old, asking her to join a Religious Congregation to serve Him; yet she always reported every encounter with Jesus to her Superiors and her Spiritual Directors Fr. Andrasz and Fr. Sopocko. At times, when Jesus would ask her to do something important, she would tell Him she must first get directions from her Spiritual Director.

      From studying the life of this ” Christ’s Secretary and Apostle of Divine Mercy” – as Jesus called her – one realizes how important it is for one to have a Spiritual Director who can walk with one on one’s Spiritual Journey. It is true, God does reveal Himself to us in His own ways, but a Director is vital to help one in truly arriving at one’s self-awareness, and thus side-step the traps the Evil One lays on our Path every day of our lives

  • V

    Personally, I think it is good to have an on-line correspondence with a spiritual director, if you can’t get one in person. I have a spiritual director I see once a month, and we did not make real progress until I started writing weekly emails talking about the spiritual and the mundane.

    Of course, part of the problem is that I spent so many years in “therapy” that the defense mechanisms I developed for therapy kick in with my spiritual director when I see him in person. Also, I am one of those people who’s main defense is to please people. This is a terrible habit for people who want guidance!

    I’m still in a place where I’m not aware of it while I’m doing it. When I’m writing email [or even comments on a blog!] I find that I’m actually more honest, not less.

  • EmmJaa

    We have the perfect forum here, if we choose to make use of it. God has given us beautiful, courageous souls to immolate and we live in a time when access to their courageous is at our finger tips. Honestly, we have not excuse for not knowing anymore.

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