Getting Directions

It is a dangerous thing to idealize priests and religious.

While it might feel nice and pious to imagine priests, nuns, and monks living lives untouched by the struggles of humanity, it will only lead to disappointment when you encounter the truth: that priests and religious have bad days; they struggle in their prayer; and they don't have all the answers.

That's where spiritual direction comes in.

From the beginning of my time in seminary, I've had a spiritual director. It's part of the formation program: each seminarian is assigned to a priest who will help them grow in their spiritual life - their relationship with God in prayer - throughout seminary.

It's an incredibly wise idea.

No one should go through their life without being challenged. For a priest, it would be deadly to have no one but himself hear what is going on in his heart. In spiritual direction, this man, who is supposed to be leading the members of the Body of Christ, reveals his own heart - what is troubling him, what brings him joy, what he thinks the Lord is saying to him in prayer ...

I've benefited so much from the spiritual directors I've had since Pre-Theology I. They've called me to greater holiness and helped me to see what God is doing in my life, and I think that is even more significant now that I'm a priest.

I'm watching the original Star Wars movie as I write this. In this first installment, Luke Skywalker is introduced to the mysteries of the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi - something he never could have figured out on his own.

Christians who want to grow closer to God shouldn't expect to go solo. We are all in this together and those who are more experienced have the obligation of sharing what they know with those who are starting out. None of us are finished until we're face to face with our God.

Spiritual direction isn't for priests alone. If you feel like speaking to someone else about your spiritual life could help you grow (and it probably could), seek someone out. Ask a priest or religious who you can be honest with - and then give it a chance.