Happy New Year! As the New Year begins, we commence a new series focused on not only one of my regular spiritual practices, but also my favorite ministry – Spiritual Direction. I am really excited that this series will be authored by the six spiritual directors who are part of our January Online Busy Person’s Retreat and hosted at both here and on God in All Things, edited by my Ignatian friend and colleague, Andy Otto.
My first experience with Spiritual Direction
Eighteen years ago, I sat in Christ the King Parish on LSU’s campus at the 8pm Sunday Mass and heard an announcement about a Busy Person’s Retreat. I heard words like daily prayer, retreat, and spiritual director. I did not fully grasp what this meant, but I noticed my heart welling within me. It felt like there was a string on my heart and someone was gently pulling on it trying to get me to pay attention.
Piqued by the curiosity to learn more about a busy person’s retreat and hoping to calm the restlessness within me, I signed up. My spiritual director for the retreat was a beautiful, warm, faith-filled Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. Ily Fernandez. Meeting her was a moment that changed the trajectory of my life. I discovered the gift of spiritual direction in supporting my growth in my relationship with God.
Sr. Ily met with me for about thirty minutes a day for four days. During our time together she asked me about my relationship with God, encouraged me to set up a daily prayer time, helped me discern God’s invitations, and assigned me scripture to pray with during my prayer time. I committed to praying each day for 15-20 minutes in a time that fit around my college schedule. When I met with Sr. Ily, I shared what stirred in my prayer, what I noticed, and what questions I had.
After the busy person’s retreat ended, we continued to meet monthly for spiritual direction for a few years. She not only exposed me to spiritual direction, she taught me how to pray in my daily life.
For the last 18 years I have continued to meet with a spiritual director. These men and women changed as we moved to various cities or we outgrew our time journeying together. This gift of being accompanied by another person on my faith journey is a big reason that I myself became a spiritual director.
What is Spiritual Direction?
I get this question all the time! It is a ministry of holy listening that involves three parties: the Holy Spirit, the spiritual director, and the directee. The Holy Spirit is acting and moving in a person’s life. The spiritual director serves as a holy listener for the directee, who is listening to what’s happening in their prayer and daily life.
Spiritual direction involves helping people grow in their relationship with God. This happens by inviting people to notice God at work in their day-to-day lives, by helping them discern God’s invitations, and by helping them gain awareness of what inhibits their growth in God.
What is Ignatian spiritual direction?
Ignatian spiritual direction is a unique way to accompany another person on their faith journey. Ignatian spiritual directors make the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius before entering into a spiritual direction program or as part of their training programs. These directors use the principles found in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as their guide for walking with others. They lean on St. Ignatius’ discernment wisdom and the movements of the Holy Spirit to help a person learn how God works in their lives.
How to find a spiritual director?
If you notice God tugging on the string of your heart or nudging you to find someone to walk with you on your faith journey, like any good Ignatian discernment process, the first step is to pray. Ask God for help in finding the right person to walk with you in this season of life.
Throughout this series, we will offer various ways to go about finding the right spiritual director for you.
- Videos: In 2012, Loyola Press invited me to do a few videos on Spiritual Direction, which you can find below.
Scriptures for Support:
- Lk 24: 13-25// Jesus accompanies disciples on the road to Emmaus
- Acts 2: 42-47// Communal Life
- Isaiah 11: 1-2//The Spirit of the Lord
- Gal 5: 19-23//Fruits of the Spirit
If your life feels busy and full, you’re not alone. Do you struggle to make time for prayer in your daily life? Perhaps you’ve tried to make a retreat in the past but didn’t have the time to get away.
What if you could make a retreat without having to leave your home or office?