Catholic Spiritual Direction
Someone listening to you, and listening to God on your behalf.
Catholic spiritual directors are formally trained to use open-ended questions and reflective listening about your inner life with God in order to point you in the direction of Christ, in harmony with the theology and teachings of the Catholic Church.
What do you do in Spiritual Direction?
Catholic spiritual direction is talking to a trained listener in order to integrate your life with your faith in Jesus Christ in an authentic and faithfully Catholic way. It's a unique kind of companionship. It's not Confession or counseling. It's not a turn-taking conversation like we have with friends or family.
A spiritual director is there to focus on you, listen to you, pray with you, and keep up with you every month to see how your journey unfolds. People often seek spiritual direction at times of life transition such as family or work changes, discerning a vocation or other decision, or simply feeling stuck in their spiritual life and needing a fresh perspective or accountability. Trained Catholic spiritual directors can be lay people, clergy, or religious. Meetings are usually once per month and paid. Some meet for a season, some meet ongoing.
The Evocative Approach or the Directive Approach
Most spiritual directors (whether clergy, religious, or lay) are trained to use the "evocative" approach. That means they won't diagnose, give you the answers, or become your taskmaster - they want to help you learn to hear and follow the Holy Spirit for yourself. They seek to "evoke" or draw out what is really on your mind and help you connect it to God. While most Catholic spiritual directors use the evocative approach, a few - particularly some clergy or religious - use a "directive" approach from a specific charism (such a Carmelite, Ignatian, or Opus Dei), or prescribe a rule of life.
How Do I Find a Spiritual Director in the Twin Cities?
Pray. Ask God to lead you to the right director, and keep developing your spiritual life.
Ask your parish priest or Catholic friends for recommendations. Not all clergy or religious are trained directors.
Contact local spiritual director training programs and spirituality/retreat centers for referrals, such as:
Think beyond local. Since the pandemic began, some spiritual directors offer online sessions to or from anywhere.
Is this Spiritual Director the Right One for Me?
Go into an initial meeting with a potential spiritual director with the goal of simply trying it out. Get a feel for their personality, approach to direction, and how it feels to tell your story to them. If that goes well, try three in a row and then re-evaluate before committing to ongoing direction. Some people try multiple directors before selecting one.
They should tell you about/you can ask about:
A sense their own prayer life, parish involvement, influences on their spirituality, and approach to the Magisterium so you can feel comfortable with their approach.
If they have particular specialties like the Ignatian Exercises, group spiritual direction, retreats, or working with business people, artists, those in discernment, etc.
If they have a spiritual director of their own (they should!).
If they have a supervisor or a supervision group (this protects you by giving them accountability).
There is a very wide range of Catholic directors out there from conservative to progressive and some that work in ecumenical or inter-religious settings. Be honest about what does or does not feel like a good fit. Spiritual direction relationships need to be a clear "yes" from both sides if it is going to be helpful to you.