Benedictines, by their vow of obedience, are committed to listening for God’s voice through life. Each day, through prayer, lectio, reading, and attention to life they attempt to discern God’s voice, spoken in a variety of ways by all creation. Their vows also require a constant engagement with discernment, discerning God’s continual call, the movement of the Spirit, as well as the frustrating, distracting, and dissipating influence of evil or less good spirits. Hence, there is a long tradition of spiritual direction among monastics, and for centuries monks and nuns have served as spiritual guides. Spiritual direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with God and their neighbor.
It is about listening and trying to discern the Spirit’s activity in one’s life, learning from that activity, and trying to respond in concrete ways to what God is calling one’s self to do or become. It often involves reviewing one’s past as one’s faith journey. It may also require one to work on healing past wounds or to redeem them by learning from them. Spiritual direction is not, however, psychotherapy, pastoral counseling, or “life coaching.” In some ways, “spiritual direction” is a misnomer because the real “director” is the Holy Spirit, and both the spiritual guide and the directee are earnestly trying to listen for God’s voice. Hopefully, the practice helps one grow and expand in one’s personal spirituality and humanity, aids one in developing a rule of life, and encourages greater awareness of God’s presence and more gratitude for God’s generosity.
Those seeking direction find a wise guide and share stories of their life in God with that director. They also may speak about spiritual issues they are experiencing and/or how concrete experiences are hindering or fostering greater awareness of grace and God’s presence in their lives. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her reflection and spiritual growth, and may offer the directee certain readings or spiritual practices to help that individual in her or his journey with God.
Anyone interested in having a Sister as a spiritual director should contact Sr. Madeleine Mary, CSM.