THE MINISTRY OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
"It is your face, O God, that I seek."
Contact Lynne Prechel, Deacon, ELCA at 714-721-8740
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual Direction is a ministry deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. In this ministry, seekers are called to be open and respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Generally, the Spirit is calling them to deepening levels of intimacy with their own deepest selves, with other people, and with God – indeed, with all Creation. Spiritual direction usually involves a gentle enabling of another to express his or her experience of faith, discern its character or movement, and to live in growing fidelity to God’s mysterious call to live our lives in the Great Communion in which God is becoming “all in all.”
The spiritual director helps you read God’s presence and action in your life. This is done by providing a loving, open environment, being a listener and companion, and giving support and feedback so that you may discover and increasingly live out of your deepest Center---namely, your heart which is “hidden with Christ in God.” This ministry can help you clarify, articulate, and affirm your spiritual experience as revealed through all the situations and events in your life. Most fundamentally, the goal of spiritual direction is to help you become more aware of God’s presence in your life and to make decisions in fidelity to that awareness.
The Holy Spirit is the real director. The direction comes from within the directee, from the Holy One. The human “director” assumes no superiority in faith since we are all equal before God and “on the way.” Rather, the director attempts to assume a humble and contemplative posture toward the directee by companioning the seeker in witnessing God’s mysterious loving presence and action in their life. Indeed, we could say that the ministry of the director is situated between two great mysteries: the mystery of God and the mystery of the unique person. It is precisely on this sacred ground where these two great mysteries interact that the spiritual director is invited to humbly listen, witness and affirm.
Is this something new?
No, in fact it is very old. Spiritual direction is an ancient art that dates back to the early Christian church. In the first centuries of Christianity, people went to the desert to seek spiritual guidance (seeking a “word”) from the holy women and men living there. The term “spiritual direction” became common in the Middle Ages. Today, it is often a more formalized ministry in the Catholic church and many other Christian traditions.
Why is it needed today?
Today, more than ever, the many voices of the world system are clamoring for our attention. We are pressured to join a materialistic culture, which is sometimes filled with greed, anger, violence, and confusion. The stress of living can be overwhelming. It can be very difficult to hear the deeper inner Voice of Love calling us gently to be people in whom God’s Love finds no obstacle to its manifestation in the world. This is definitely a time in which this ministry is much needed both in our personal lives and in the world around us.
What is the difference between spiritual direction and counseling?
Unlike counseling, spiritual direction isn’t directed toward “fixing” or therapeutic management of life’s problems. Whereas counseling is often concerned with achieving efficiency of functioning and social adjustment in our lives, spiritual direction focuses on the seeker’s deepening relationship with the Sacred dimension of their lives. It assumes both a faith perspective and a fundamental desire for prayer and intimacy with God. Since they each have a different focus, some people choose to participate in both forms of guidance, although they are usually pursued in separate contexts. And like counseling, the spiritual direction relationship is completely confidential.
What happens in a session?
Often the session will begin with a few minutes of prayer and silence. Generally, the director listens in an open prayerful environment to the directee’s sharing about what is going on in their life. The time together is set aside for growth in awareness of anything that is occurring in the person’s life, which has helped or hindered their relationship with God. The director acts as a supportive companion who allows the seeker to look honestly at their relationship with God as it is lived out in their everyday life and relationships. The emphasis is on openness, honesty, awareness, and affirmation of God’s mysterious presence in our ordinary lives. The presence, action, and guidance of the Holy Spirit is what is most deeply sought in each session.
How often does Spiritual Direction occur?
Sessions are generally fifty-five minutes long and occur in varying frequency. Usually most people come about once a month, although the first few visits may occur somewhat more frequently to allow the director and directee to get to know each other. However, it is entirely up to the directee as to how often they come for direction.