Spiritual direction has its origins in the early Christian church. According to the gospels, Jesus acted as a mentor to his disciples. In addition, Ananias is described in Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9 as assisting Paul of Tarsus in growing in his newfound faith. Similarly, Paul is described as mentoring Timothy and Titus, among others, in various Pauline epistles. Polycarp, the 2nd-century bishop of Smyrna, is said to have been instructed by John the Evangelist.
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John Cassian, a fourth-century theologian, wrote some of the first known principles on the Christian practice of spiritual direction.
In the monasteries, he established mentoring. Each novice was assigned to an elder monk for supervision. Cassian's precepts were incorporated into what is now known as the Rule of Saint Benedict by Benedict of Nursia.
Spiritual direction is common in the Catholic tradition: a wise and spiritually discerned person, generally but not always a priest or a consecrated person in general, counsels a person who aspires to embark on a journey of faith and discover God's will in his life. The spiritual guide's goal is to identify and grasp what the Holy Spirit is telling the person accompanied via life events, spiritual insights gained through prayer, reading, and meditation on the Bible. The spiritual father or spiritual director may give advise, give life and prayer hints, and resolve doubts in areas of faith and morals without taking the place of the accompanying person's choices and judgments.
What do you talk about with a spiritual director?
People frequently find it easy to answer the first few questions. They do not make people nervous or perplexed. These questions provide a foundation for the spiritual director to learn about the person and his or her spirituality. Leading questions aren't the same as starting questions. When someone wants a certain answer, they ask leading questions. On the other hand, there are no correct solutions to these questions. A person can reply in any way they want without fear of being judged.
How often should you meet with your spiritual director?
How frequently should we gather for spiritual guidance? The standard meeting schedule is once a month, although there may be periods or seasons when meeting twice a month or every other month is more appropriate and beneficial.
Can spiritual directors help?
Spiritual Directors International's rules state that spiritual directors should have their own directors, as well as mentors or peers who may give oversight and responsibility. Spiritual direction fees are usually on a sliding basis, ranging from $50 to $150 each 50-minute appointment. For those who cannot afford to pay, some directors provide pro gratis services.
The relationship between companion and seeker is personal, and spiritual directors must establish proper limits, just as they would in any other type of counseling. Some spiritual companions, such as Ms. Pannier-Cass, have social work degrees.
While therapy “may provide expert aid with recovering from mental health problems,” spiritual direction “focuses on your relationship with God or the divine” through prayer or reflection, according to Emily Malcoun, a clinical psychologist in Philadelphia who has worked with a spiritual director.
Some argue that the profession should be held more accountable. In an article published last October in Presence, a journal published by Spiritual Directors International, Andree Grafstein, a spiritual director in Avon, Conn., recalled an episode of sexual harassment from a director nearly 40 years ago. “I look forward to a day when the reality of sexual harassment by spiritual directors is as obvious as other forms of sexual abuse,” she added.
Ms. Grafstein said she has gotten supportive communications from other spiritual directors since the piece was published. She is particularly concerned about the need for spiritual directors to get instruction and assistance if they hear that a directee has been harassed or abused by another director.
Directees can be vulnerable, especially if they came to a spiritual director because of their rejection of organized religion or a previous religious community. Kristabeth Atwood, a spiritual director and former United Methodist minister in Burlington, Vermont, refers to herself as a pastor for individuals who don't attend church. The majority of her subordinates “I just don't feel at home in a traditional or formal religious group,” she explained.
Do you need a degree to be a spiritual director?
For the Education portion of the certification process, the CCPC has established the following requirements.
Formal classroom education in the field of spiritual direction is described as the required education. The foundation of information and skills connected with the basic functions must be addressed through education. Every aspect of your schooling must be documented.
A master's degree from a recognized accredited university with an emphasis in biblical, theological studies and a minimum of six courses in spirituality is required for accreditation. Individuals holding a baccalaureate degree in spirituality may be eligible in exceptional situations if they meet all other qualifications.
What makes a good spiritual director?
When we think about spiritual directors, we could picture a person or people who have accomplished a great deal. We can imagine a fearless commander directing us through dangerous terrain or a warrior slaying our foes in front of our eyes. A superb analyzer and teacher of the spirit or a drill sergeant of the soul come to mind.
Spiritual directors, on the other hand, are just like you in terms of being human and susceptible. They are humble, prayerful people who accompany us on our journey to improving our spiritual lives and become even more committed followers of Jesus. They are there to accompany us on our path, offering their presence, a listening ear, and practical insight to aid in our spiritual development.
These are all excellent attributes to look for in a spiritual director, but you probably didn't think about the fact that the spiritual director you connect with should also be following your lead in terms of spiritual guidance.
A good spiritual director has their own spiritual director.
A good spiritual director must have his own guide in order to help someone along the spiritual path. The purpose of seeking spiritual guidance is to give oneself with a neutral viewpoint.
A good spiritual director will be known by his pastor.
You may have assumed that your parish priest would be the finest spiritual director candidate based solely on his vocation. While most priests and even religious have some spiritual counseling training, being a well-trained spiritual director may require additional preparation.
Before a spiritual director begins mentoring others, it is recommended practice for him to have permission from his pastor. This allows the pastor to attest to the spiritual director's qualifications while also providing the church with a resource for parishioners seeking spiritual guidance.
A good spiritual director is not there to make decisions for you.
A competent spiritual director isn't the person who makes all of your decisions for you. Look for someone who can advise you rather than impose so you can make an informed decision. The purpose of the spiritual director is not to tell you what to do, but to assist you in discerning the Holy Spirit's promptings and hearing God's voice. In the end, the relationship is between you and God.
A good spiritual director has suffered.
Finding someone who is familiar with suffering is extremely beneficial and virtually necessary, as pain is unavoidable in the life of a Christian who wishes to follow in Christ's footsteps. Someone who has been converted into Christ's image through suffering is a wonderful spiritual director.
Someone who has been shaped by the pain God has allowed in life is qualified to be a competent spiritual director. A person who has come to understand that suffering is not a sign of God's rejection of them, but rather a grace and a demonstration of Christ's faith in them.
A good spiritual director is a person of prayer
Finally, ensure that your spiritual director is a prayerful person with a strong spiritual life. Nobody can share something they don't have.
What does a deep spiritual life entail? Visiting Jesus in devotion and regularly attending mass (perhaps even daily). A good spiritual director makes time for personal prayer or meditation every day. They have studied spiritual masters such as Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross. They may also have a close relationship with the Blessed Mother, who is our most powerful intercessor, and may pray the rosary or other Marian devotions frequently. Feel free to inquire about a potential spiritual director's spirituality.
Can you make a living as a spiritual director?
Teresa Blythe is one of the presenters in the Making a Living as a Spiritual Director webinar series, which is now available in online recordings. The Making a Living as a Spiritual Companion 2 webinar series from this year is also available online. Take a peek at these new additions as well: Spiritual directors and spiritual companions will benefit from the books Follow Your Calling Without Quitting Your Job and Consciously Change Your Money Relationship.
“Can you make a living as a spiritual director?” I'm frequently asked. The answer is complicated since it relies on the individual, the market, and the philosophy. Spiritual Directors International has two webinars on the subject (one of which I participated to), and if you watch both of them, which I hope you do, you will receive the long answer to your question.
Can it be done?
Yes. However, developing a spiritual direction practice to the point where you can earn a middle-class wage may take years. You may receive a few inquiries after you start promoting, but your practice will really take off once people who have come to you for advice start referring their friends. Your most effective marketing weapon will always be word of mouth, and it will take time.
But I heard about this one person who is making good money at it!
Contact him or her immediately to learn how they achieved it and how long it took them to reach to the point where they could support themselves only through spiritual direction.
The majority of spiritual directors I know who make a living at it do one of three things:
- Working a second or third job to supplement your income. (And, full transparency, I have a working spouse and we are a two-income family with no children.) As a result, I'm not going into this without a safety net.) In addition to seeing roughly 25 people in one-on-one spiritual direction, I also manage the Hesychia School, a spiritual direction training program, and I take on contract work from churches that ask me to assist them with discernment. A full-time spiritual director friend of mine formerly rented a big multi-room space and sublet it to other spiritual directors and healing arts practitioners for sessions, retreats, and workshops. (Her name is Amanda Petersen, and she appears in part 2 of SDI's webinar series on the topic.) You'll like hearing about her adventures!)
- Session fees are being charged at a higher rate than usual. There will be no condemnation here! However, if you want to make a living seeing individuals once a month (the standard frequency), you'll need a large number of directees or charge them upwards of $150 per session. Spiritual direction sessions in Phoenix, where I live, cost $60-80 per session. I've decided to charge the market rate. Even with a sliding scale, I believe that if I went for the upper end, I would price myself out of the medium and lower middle-class market.
- Individuals are being seen more frequently than once a month. To put it another way, we spiritual directors build a practice in the same manner that a therapist or life coach does. They see folks on a more regular basis than once a month. As a result, if you start meeting them every two weeks, you'll be able to earn more money. Unless the directee insists on visiting more frequently, I've decided to keep appointments at around once a month (which is not usual in my case). Most directees need around 30 days of living and completing their spiritual practices before they are ready to spend one hour in direction, according to my experience. This is not the case for all filmmakers. You might try to reach out to some spiritual directors who visit individuals more frequently than once a month and ask them why they do it and how it's going for them.
It's a matter of discernment
Spend a lot of time in prayer, thought, and discernment before quitting your day job and starting a spiritual direction practice.
Spend time with the Divine, asking questions and listening for responses from the depths of your being.
- How many clients do I need at my target price point to pay my bills and live a life that is sustainable?
- What is the pricing range that I am looking for? What are the advantages and disadvantages of pricing my product lower or higher than the market rate?
- What kind of employment will afford me the independence and provide me with enough energy to see customers if I take on a job to anchor and support this practice?
Pay attention to your gut instincts. “Why am I seeking spiritual direction in this manner?” you might wonder.
Make a test run. Let's see what happens if you start marketing yourself. It's a good indication if you're inundated with people seeking spiritual guidance. It's not only fine if it takes a while; it's the standard. The majority of spiritual directors I know had to wait for the practice to mature.
Is it possible to make a living as a spiritual advisor? I hope you are able to do so. One of the reasons I do what I do is to show people that spiritual direction can be a significant component of what you do professionally. It doesn't have to be a second job any more!
How do you find a Catholic spiritual director?
You may already have a good relationship with your priest and feel comfortable asking him to be your spiritual director, but even if you don't, it's appropriate to ask him.
Because many parish priests are overburdened with responsibilities, it may be more effective to ask, “Is there someone you can recommend to give me spiritual direction if you are unable?”
Not only does this relieve your parish priest of stress, but it also prevents you from being disappointed if he is unable to serve as your spiritual directorand it allows him to consider making a recommendation for you.
When a good friend asked her parish priest to be her spiritual director, he was unable to do so, but he offered her the names of two other priests in her diocese who were available for spiritual direction! She was quite appreciative.
Our pastor or another priest, our confessor (the priest from whom we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis), a religious (monk, friar, or nun), or an experienced and well-formed lay person could all serve as spiritual directors.
The Catholic Church's Catechism says this about seeking and finding a spiritual director:
For the sake of the common good, which is prayer, the Holy Spirit bestows the gifts of wisdom, faith, and insight on a select group of believers (spiritual direction). Men and women with such gifts are worthy servants of prayer's living tradition.
According to St. John of the Cross, anyone seeking perfection should “take care into whose hands they entrust themselves,” because “as the master is, so will the disciple be, and as the parent is, so will the son.” ‘A spiritual director should be experienced in addition to being learned and discreet… If the spiritual director has no experience of the spiritual life, he will be unable of leading the souls whom God is calling to it into it, and he will not even understand them.'
How do you prepare for spiritual direction?
As a prayer preparation, do whatever you've found to be effective in the past. You may take a few calm, deep breaths, gaze out the window, journal, or read scripture to relax. Then, ask God to reveal you what would be beneficial to discuss in a spiritual direction session.
What is meant by spiritual formation?
The process of becoming conformed to the image of Jesus Christ for the glory of God and the sake of others is known as Christian spiritual formation (II Corinthians 3:17-18).
The Holy Spirit, who directs the continual path toward union with God, is at the center of spiritual formation.
Submission is the response. Individuals and communities are formed through an organic, life-long, and holistic process involving proper thinking (orthodoxy), right behaviors (orthopraxy), and right feelings (orthopathy).”
What is spiritual companionship?
What is Spiritual Companionship, and what does it entail? It's simply an opportunity to discuss what's going on in your inner and spiritual life with a trusted individual. Spiritual Companionship provides you with spiritual counsel that will assist and support you in conducting an honest self-examination that is necessary for your personal development and evolution. The goal is to cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and truth about who you are and the grandeur you possess.
WHAT could we talk about?
Want to meet with a Spiritual Companion but aren't sure what to chat about? Here are some examples of possible themes to consider:
- Trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life (Who am I? What are my guiding principles? What am I supposed to do?)
- In life, looking for and discovering (or creating) meaning (What offers me joy?
- Where does my deep joy meet the greatest need in the world?)
- Examining spiritual, religious, philosophical, or philosophical issues or texts (Will you assist me in deciphering this passage? What does it have to do with my life?)
- Managing suffering (Why do bad things happen to good people?
- What is the best way for me to accept and handle my grief?)
- Relationships – with family, roommates, friends, and coworkers – are being built and healed. (What should I say to mend a schism? What can I do to earn people's trust? Relationships are nurtured in what ways?)