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Spiritual Direction Connection Questions for Dan & Teresa Tomeo

March 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Radio and Podcast

Spiritual Direction Connection

Teresa Tomeo's “Catholic Connection” Show

Dear Friends,

for post on advance praise from Teresa Tomeo

Teresa Tomeo of Catholic Connection

for post on Spiritual Direction Connection

Dan Burke of Spiritual Direction Connection

As you know Teresa Tomeo has added a “Spiritual Direction Connection” to her show Catholic Connection. The segment will air every Friday at 9:50 am EST (US).

Every week we will address a question from YOU about the spiritual life. If you have any burning questions, submit them to the combox in this post. We will select one every week for the show.

So, what is your burning question about the spiritual life?


From Teresa's Site:

Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with more than 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper and spent 19 of those years working in front of a camera as a reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC. Her weekday morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and now heard on over 300 Catholic stations nationwide through EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and is also carried on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Teresa is a columnist and special correspondent for the national Catholic newspaper Our Sunday Visitor and appears frequently on the EWTN Global Catholic Television Network. Teresa co-hosts the EWTN television series, The Catholic View for Women, and is the field reporter for their annual March for Life coverage in Washington, D.C. Teresa has also been featured on The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, The Dr. Laura Show, and Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk Radio, discussing issues of faith, media awareness, and Catholic Church teaching, especially as it relates to the culture.

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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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  • Michele

    I have recently parted ways with my spiritual director, and am seeking a new one. My spiritual journey seems to be leading me deeper into contemplative prayer. Is it important for me to find a director who is experienced in contemplation, or is it okay for me to have someone who is compatible with me in other areas but not necessarily in this? I have the help of books from St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, etc. to give me assistance as well.
    Also, how do you feel about spiritual direction via telephone?
    Thanks! I’m reading your book, Dan, and finding it very helpful.

    • Great question Michele

      • Michele

        Dan, could you please explain why you do not believe Merton to be a good source? Do you find Richard Rohr and James Finley to be good sources? I would appreciate some discussion on this. Thanks!

    • Dear Michele – You don’t necessarily need someone who is a contemplative to lead you effectively. However, they should understand the territory, at least intellectually and have an active prayer life. Why? Because the hinderances to contemplation often are rooted outside of the life of prayer itself. With respect to phone – absolutely! Skype is even better. Regardless, the key is to get to know your director and to allow them to get to know you. Face to face is always best. Even so, I have never met my director in person – we use skype. It has been the most fruitful spiritual direction experience I have had. I am grateful you are enjoying the book! Oh – one more thing. Merton is not a good source to lean on. The others you mentioned are very good sources.

    • Dear Michele – wanted to let you know that we will be talking about your question on the air this Friday and I will also provide a post with an in-depth answer!

  • Shawn

    Now and then someone asks me to be his or her spiritual director. I always say I am not qualified for that but I can be your spiritual friend or if you like a sort of informal mentor. I am experienced in contemplative prayer for many years and am an OCDS. I just don’t have any official training for spiritual direction. I tend to like to do spiritual friendships or companionships informally. This last time someone asked me it seemed different. I felt like God was doing something though I was not sure what. I told her I was not qualified as I usually do and the other stuff. But I said OK with the understanding there are plenty of qualified people and we will just see what happens with this. We have decided to meet on a regular basis and we’ve met a couple of times now. I think what she might need from me for now is just an introduction to various forms of deeper prayer and someone to explore with and share with and to listen to her. So I’m doing that. Any other advice?

    • LizEst

      You have to have a calling to be a spiritual director. One of the classic signs that you may very well have a calling to do this spiritual director work is for people to ask you to be their spiritual director…without you telling them you could do so or asking them if they would like for you to be their spiritual director. So, I do think you may be called. What does your own spiritual director say about this?

      You may want to look one of the three schools of spiritual direction that Dan has in his book (Appendix One). At least one (that I’m aware of) has two parts to it: distance AND in person. That’s the one in Kansas City. There is also one in Colorado and one in Florida. There are many training opportunities out there that are NOT faithful to the Magesterium. Dan has checked these out and they are faithful.

      • Shawn

        Thank you for your reply. I have thought about that. Our Diocese (Austin) has a three year program and I have thought about it. Right now I am a widowed single Mom and the school is 2 1/2 hours away. Either God will make a way or I should wait until I have my kids raised to do something like that. In the mean time I guess I will just be a friend and mentor of sorts.

        • LizEst

          Hi Shawn – I have a friend who, all her life, wanted to do that. But, the Lord, in his wisdom, had her wait for certain things in her life to resolve themselves. Waiting made her grow in that wisdom that can only come from God. Her own diocese sent her to the one in Florida and she completed the program. Now, she is very happy to be doing her life-long calling. If you are thinking about the program in your diocese, I recommend asking Dan if he would look at their program (he may have already done so). Right now, as far as I know, he only recommends the three schools in his book.

          My recommendation would be to raise your kids first for three reasons (in no particular order): (1) You are not near one of the three schools Dan recommends; (2) As you know, when you have children, you have a personal responsibility to them before God. If you are able to raise them and go to school, great. But, the distance may make it difficult for you, although some have done it. It would be easier to get the training if your husband were still alive, or if a family member could assist you and you didn’t indicate there was someone else who could help with this. (3) You can “always” go to school. You will never get back this time with your children.

          Pray about this. You are right. God will make a way for you to do so now, if He wants you to do this at the present time. If not now, give thanks to His loving wisdom and His will for you to wait. It is worth it, though it may be difficult. God bless you Shawn.

          • Shawn

            Thanks for the wisdom. I feel happy. 🙂 See?

          • LizEst

            …and I’m happy for you! 🙂 I do see!

          • Becky Ward

            What do you mean by #2 Liz?

          • LizEst

            Hi Becky – I’m swamped right now. Would it be possible to get more specific in what you are asking? That would help me focus in on it more quickly. Thanks.

          • Becky Ward

            I think I misread it to mean that our duty to our children comes before our duty to God. It doesn’t read that way now. 🙂

          • LizEst

            Oh good. I’m much relieved. I meant it the way you read it today. But, it is only today that I have understood how you may have taken it differently a week ago! ; )

    • Check out the AVI Spiritual Mentorship school at Their orientation is Carmelite. If you have not checked out our reading list for directors or aspiring directors, check it out here:
      After a brief review of what is offered at Cedarbrake Retreat Center – which houses the spiritual direction program of the Diocese of Austin, we wouldn’t recommend them without further in-depth review.

  • IamKido

    I have had two (2) female spiritual directors; both Sisters, one active and one retired. I love them both dearly, but really question how they can relate to the my “cross.” They both were raised in wonderful Catholic family, moving from the safety and protection of parents supported their every decision, to the protected life of their order. Difficult ‘life’ decisions in the area of parental abuse, marriage, financial decisions, desertion of a spouse, and raising children as a single parent, have been non-existent. While trying to maintain my faith, I do not experience God’s presence, in fact I feel very deserted and alone. Am I wrong in believing that a good spiritual director can help?

    • Dear Friend – You are correct in believing that a good spiritual director can help you with your struggles. With respect to the Sisters, it is important to recognize that it is not necessary for our directors to have experienced our exact struggles in order to help us. It helps, of course, if they have a better understanding of our struggles but it is not necessary. As well, many directors and priests are able to give advice in areas where they have no direct experience if 1) they lean on the Holy Spirit to help them serve you and, 2) they have helped others through similar situations.

  • And what can I say on this one, as I come late – again!!!! – that I need a Spiritual Director is imperative. Time and time again I feel that though I am living my Rule of Life by remaining faithful to my Prayer and Sacramental Life, often I am tempted to believe that I am still far, far away from God……why????? I do not know. But I have told myself never to give up no matter how thickly dark my situation seems. Just as I never feel what the food I daily eat is doing to my body, yet I know it helps to keep me alive, so, too, have I resigned myself to accept my Sacramental Life, even though the emptiness remains alive. I have Faith God is there for me, no matter how hopeless my situation is. Can any Family Member help here???

    • Dear Mary – anyone with an authentic love for and relationship with God can help us grow in our faith. Does that mean they can be an authentic spiritual director – not likely. However, don’t be discouraged. Go with what God has provided and pursue him as you always do.

      • Thank you, Dan for your encouragement. Your words mean a lot to me

    • Marg

      Mary I want you to know I am praying for you! when I read your post, I’ll be honest with you I felt sad for you as well for myself. If I didn’t know better I’d say that post was written by me! I am in a constant struggle. Although I try and live the rule of Life and remain faithful to the sacraments I to feel the absense of God??? its hard not to experience discouragement but I as you hang onto the fact that Jesus loves me, gave His life for me and my desire to get to know Him better and grow in my love of God keeps me on the right track.I do pray the Our Father and try and vision Christ next to me in those dark times , prayer is all powerful so pray pray pray! God Bless and keep you in His care! and do know you are in my prayers!

      • Thank you, Marg, for praying for me. Let us continue to pray for one another in this “Family”. You have truly consoled me now that you confirm I am not alone in this wilderness. Let me give you the Prayer from Saint Faustina’s Diary which ensures that I do not ever, ever give up. This is the Saint whom Jesus gave the Message of His Divine Mercy for the World.

        “I fly to Your mercy, Compassionate God, Who alone are good. Although my misery is great and my offences are many, I trust in Your mercy because You are God of mercy; and from time immemorial, it has never been heard of, nor do Heaven and Earth remember that a soul trusting in Your mercy has been disappointed.

        O God of Compassion, You alone can justify me and You will never reject me when I, contrite, approach Your Merciful Heart, where no one has ever been refused, even if he were the greatest sinner. (Diary No.1730) (For Your Son has assured me:) ‘Sooner would Heaven and Earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy fail to embrace a trusting soul’ (Diary No.17777)”

        Marg, these two Prayers ( which we pray as one Prayer), Jesus dictated to Saint Faustina during the mid-months of her last year on earth – she died on 5th October, 1938 aged 33 years only – 5 days after I was born!!). I give this Prayer to you so that, just as it supports me in my darkest moments, it can help you, too. When all else fail, and the self-doubts and emptiness swamp my mind and soul, I just throw myself at my Saviour’s Merciful feet in total Trust. I also thank Him that He invited me to know and to belong to the Eucharistic Apostolate of Divine Mercy. This to me, this is the greatest Gift He has granted me in the twilight of my life.

        • Marg

          Thank you Mary for your words of encouragement and that beautiful prayer of St. Faustina”s. WE have a merciful loving God and He is at work calling me to have a stonger faith and trust in Him. The journey never was meant to be easyI guess as our Lord’s certainly wasn’t! . I thank God for you Mary and the support you have given me through your your witnessing on how God really is a loving God and never abandons us! God Bless you in your journey !

  • Marg

    Dear Mary- Thank you for sharing with us Mary, I so relate to where your at when you said that your living the Rule of life by remaining faithful to your prayer and sacramental life.That being said why am I feeling the distance from God?? I am feeling so very alone at this point in my spiritual life, I can’t seem to let myself reach out to anyone or let on that I am so troubled, my husband and I pray each day together the liturgy of the hours but I feel I am just going through the motions, please pray for me and thanks again for your post ! God Bless You! I need prayer!

    • It sounds like you are going through the dark night. I’ll pray for you during my Divine Mercy Chaplet! God bless!

      • Marg

        Thank you Mary! your prayers will be much appreciated, God Bless and have a great day!

    • Dear Marguerite, I wouldn’t assume that you are in the dark night without further exploration. Check out our video on Dryness in Prayer here: You will also find related articles below the bottom of the post. Once you read these, send me an email at and there might be other insights we can provide to help you get through this. One thing that is very important, you really should share this struggle with someone close to you whom you trust so that 1) they can pray for you and 2) you can combat the plan of the enemy to isolate you in your struggles.

  • Kelly

    Dear Dan,
    I’m not sure if this is where you are supposed to submit questions. I was wondering what is God’s opinion on plastic surgery. I didn’t know if there was any information in the catechism, Bible, or something said by a saint on this matter. I personally have struggled with wanting to have it but, I don’t want to offend our Lord. I’m hoping you might know the answer. Thanks in advance!;)

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