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My Director Hasn’t Seen Me – I Need His Counsel: What Now?

November 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Challenges, Fr. Bartunek, Spiritual Direction

My Spiritual Director Hasn't Seen Me ~
I Need His Counsel: What Now?


Dear Father John, My spiritual director is also my parish priest. I have been seeing him for several years. I have been very displeased with how things have been going lately. In his defense he has made it clear that most parish priests don't take on spiritual directees because they don't have a lot of time to give spiritual direction. However, it's been going on a month and a half now that I've asked him to let me know when he has time to get together and we've yet to connect on a time. I have been considering ‘firing' him as my spiritual director but that's not a move I'm ready to make yet. It's very difficult because there is a job I am considering applying for that would be a big move for me and I would like his input. 

I can feel the interior tension and pain that the situation has caused you. By now, you may have already reached a resolution. But in case you haven’t, here are some thoughts for you.

The Limits of Spiritual Direction

First of all, there are no perfect priests, and no perfect spiritual directors. That has to be the starting point. Understanding the role that spiritual direction is supposed to play in our lives helps us LudwigJohannPassiniEinErnstesGesprachSpiritualDirection for my director hasn't seen meconsiderably in our effort to accept the imperfections of our spiritual director. Spiritual direction is not meant to be the solution to all of our difficulties. It is one means among numerous others that God uses in order to help guide us along the path of growing in holiness. So as you consider whether to continue meeting with your current director or looking for another, please take that into account. I would encourage you to make sure you are utilizing all the other means at your disposal, and keeping spiritual direction in its proper place, before making any definitive decisions. It may be useful for you to review the nature and purpose of spiritual direction, the qualities of a good spiritual director, and the other normal means for spiritual growth – especially, in your case, discerning the will of God. We have multiple posts for each of those topics here on our blog, just search for those topics and/or click here for a listing of posts on the spiritual direction process itself. But if you prefer book form, I recommend getting a copy of “Navigating the Interior Life” by Daniel Burke.

Healthy Supplements to Spiritual Direction

Also, it’s important to remember that having a spiritual director isn’t meant to keep us from going to other sources for good advice about specific issues. You can always seek another point of view, maybe from a confessor at a shrine or retreat center nearby, or from a retired priest who may be able to listen to you and give some advice. It’s unadvisable to have multiple spiritual directors at the same time, or to jump around from spiritual director to spiritual director, since that would indicate a subconscious unwillingness to actually receive direction that may go against one’s natural preferences. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get advice about specific issues from other sources, from experts and wise people – doing so is part of the virtue of prudence.

As regards your job decision, if you have time still before you need to make a final choice, you may also want to read Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s book called “Discerning the Will of God.” He explains the steps of discernment as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola, with lots of real world examples. It really may help you.

Well, I know this won’t solve all your difficulties, but I hope it helps at least a little bit. Count on my prayers.

In Him, Fr. John


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 Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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