SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Is spiritual direction for all? I really don’t feel the need

Dear Dan, I noticed on your poll that there are a few people (apparently out of thousands) who don't think they need a spiritual director. I have wondered if I am also in this category. I feel strong in my faith (I love my faith) and feel like I have clear direction in my life at the moment. I am not struggling with mortal sin or habitual venial sins (that I am aware of). Am I missing something? Shouldn't regular confession and the advice I get in confession be enough for me?

Maybe. It might be that your instincts are right and that at this time your task is to stay on task and keep moving forward. That said, all people of good-will are still subject to the effects of the fall of Adam and suffer from spiritual blind spots. “Blind spots” are so called because we don't see them. These are “spots” on our souls that block our spiritual vision and that hinder us from developing a deeper relationship with God and others.

A business partner once thanked me for pointing out a problem with his services. He said, “I can't know my brake light is out unless someone tells me.” In similar fashion, how can we tell if our spiritual brake lights are all working as they should be? How can we see our blind spots without the help of others?

Now, with respect to your situation in specific, the fact that you go to confession regularly speaks to your active cooperation with the Holy Spirit and your faithful participation in the sacraments. You are on the right track. You are obviously striving for holiness and have a desire for a right relationship with God. Why not take the next step and take your spiritual life to the next level? Why not stretch yourself? Why not open yourself up to even more grace in your life?

For a bit more encouragement, Pope John Paul the Great shared these relevant thoughts (emphasis mine) in Christifidelis Laici (#58),

To be able to discover the actual will of the Lord in our lives always involves the following: a receptive listening to the Word of God and the Church, fervent and constant prayer, recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide,and a faithful discernment of the gifts and talents given by God…

The saints and wise spiritual masters of the Church constantly reveal that spiritual direction is a gift that the serious spiritual pilgrim can rarely do without. At the risk of being offensive, here are a few thought provoking and hard hitting quotes on the topic:

He who constitutes himself his own director becomes the disciple of a fool. – Saint Bernard –

Our Lord Jesus Christ, without whom we can do nothing, will not give his grace to him who, though he has access to an expert guide, rejects this precious means of sanctification, thinking that he can look on after his own everything that touches on his salvation. He who has a director… will reach his goal more easily and more quickly than if he acted as his own guide, even if he be very intelligent and have the very best of spiritual books.” – Saint Vincent Ferrer – (Treatise on the Spiritual Life, 2,1)

My advice? Go deeper. Find a faithful director and make the appointment. The worst thing that can happen is that in your self-evaluation and openness to God's leading, you might just gain confirmation that you are on the right tack.

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

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Art for this post on spiritual direction for everyone: 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.  Feature image art: Ein ernstes Gespräch (A Serious Conversation), Ludwig Johann Passini, by 1903, PD-US author’s life plus 100 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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