SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Guides, Directors & Mentors: What’s the difference?

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Finding a Director, Spiritual Direction

What's the Difference between Spiritual Guides, Spiritual Directors, and Spiritual Mentors?


Good question! Depending upon the source of training of the spiritual director, there are different types or titleds of those who offer spiritual direction. For instance, a number of movements in the Church offer training for lay people so that they can provide spiritual direction. These organizations often make a distinction between ordained (men) or spiritual guidesconsecrated (men and/or women), referring to them as “Spiritual Directors,” and laypersons who might be called “Spiritual Guides” or “Spiritual Mentors.” The distinction is usually a reflection of the level of training and education possessed by the one providing the guidance. When these distinctions are made, it is likely that those with the title “Spiritual Director” have received a level of formation that is higher than those who might be called “Spiritual Mentors” or “Spritual Guides.”

It is important not to get caught up in the specific titles. Nor would it be appropriate to assume that someone with a lower level of formation would be less equipped to help you with your spiritual life. Spending time with another soul that is aggressively pursuing Christ and has some experience that exceeds yours can be very beneficial. The goal is to understand and pursue Christ in the process regardless of the specific titles that may or may not be applied to the individuals available to help you do so.

P.S. This post is an excerpt from Dan's book on spiritual direction and spiritual growth. His book “Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God” is available by clicking here. If you would like to have Dan Burke speak at your parish or Catholic group, please send an email to inquiries@myavila.com


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Art for this post on spiritual guides, directors, and mentors and the differences between them: 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, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, 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. In 2018, he launched the annual Avila Summit held at Hanceville, Alabama. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband, father of four, and grandfather of one, the President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc., a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director 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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