When I discerned to resume my priestly formation after being “on hiatus” for several years, I looked forward to many things that I missed from my previous time in formation. But I was surprised to find that what I missed most was spiritual direction.
For those unsure what spiritual direction is, it’s a time set aside with a cleric or religious for regular one-on-one chats about your spiritual health and well-being. It’s a time for frank and honest introspection, guided by a neutral party who is not there to judge, but rather to shed light on what God is calling you to do.
Though spiritual directors are explicitly not therapists, spiritual direction is certainly therapeutic. Just as a nutritionist may suggest healthy foods you may not have tried before, a spiritual director can recommend you try different forms of prayer that will boost your spirituality, or a different perspective on things that will orient you closer to God.
For me, the greatest lessons I’ve gleaned from spiritual direction have centered on me taking more things — my challenges, my triumphs, my questions — to prayer. It’s in those quiet moments with the Lord that, as Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, my anxiety melts away and is replaced by a peace that washes over my heart and mind.
But you don’t have to be a seminarian to have a spiritual director. In fact, I recommend all those discerning their vocation find a good spiritual director. By being open and honest with him or her, you’ll discover how to better your relationship with God and the path God is calling you toward.