Garuba Emmanuel & Idenobe Cyprain
Spiritual direction is a very crucial aspect in our lives as Christians but many Christians do not seem to see how important it is. When we are physically sick, we go to see a doctor, when we are psychologically sick, we go to see a psychologist, when are emotionally sick, we go to see a counselor but when we are spiritually sick, we do not see the need to see a spiritual director.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
Spiritual direction is companionship in your ever deepening relationship with God. A spiritual director helps you to pay better attention to the ways of the spirit in your life. It is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the God or to grow in their personal spirituality.
McDowell sees it as an encounter between the Lord, Directee and the Spiritual Director, for the purpose that the directee may grow in their relationship with God. Spiritual direction has to do with helping a person to grow spiritually. In spite of the slight variations in the definition given, one thing is certain and that is spiritual direction is aimed at forming and cultivating a relationship with God.
Note, spiritual direction is different from counselling , counselling focus primarily on problem area of one and attempt to provide resolution to issues but spiritual direction focuses on how to find and respond to God in the mist of problems, difficulties.
SPIRITUAL BASIS FOR SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
The practice of spiritual direction has a biblical root as seen in Act8:27-39, in which the Ethiopian Eunuch was traveling and reading the scripture, but did not fully understand the passage he was reading. The spirit said to Philip go and join him, and when Philip got into the chariot he said to him; do you understand what you are reading? He replied how can I unless someone instruct me ( Cf. Acts 8:28-31). In the rest of the passage we were told that Philip read the scripture passage with the Eunuch and proclaimed Jesus to him by teaching him about the passage and the baptized him. See also the story of Eli and Samuel ( 1Sam. 3:1-21)
WHO IS A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR
A spiritual director is an individual ordained or lay who has discerned for themselves a ministry of holy listening and empathy. In other words a spiritual director is one who helps or enables another person to discern God in their lives and to hear his call and direction. The Benedictine scholars sees a spiritual director as a person dedicated to guiding people in their spiritual journey and helping them to explore matters of the soul, faith and God. From these definitions, one can say a spiritual director is a trained listener who accompanies others as they go about their spiritual journey, helping them to notice God’s presence and activities along the way, as well as their personal reactions and responses. Note that a spiritual director does not decide for the directee but accompanies him or her prayerfully.
QUALITY OF A GOOD SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR
He or she must be prayerful
Must be a good listener
Must be rich in spiritual wisdom (scripture and traditions)
He or she must be confidential
Must be approachable
He or she must have high level of empathy (I. e must be ready to go beyond sympathy)
INDICATIONS THAT WE NEED TO GO FOR SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
When life changes in ways that are beyond our control
When our ways of praying do not seem to yield the expected results.
When we feel spiritual emptiness.
When there is crisis of faith.
Traumatic events due to sin.
When we are trying to find a way forward yet things are not working out.
When misfortunes come our way.
THE NEED OR IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
It deepens our relationship with God.
When we go for spiritual direction we become spiritually healed from past wounds and hurts.
It enables us to notice God’s presence in our lives.
We become spiritually un-stocked
We become aware of the ways in which we are cooperating or ignoring the spirit of God.
We are able to make or take important decision in life.
We are able to discover our calling and purpose in life.
Finds God’s Will more easily.
We practice true devotion
We become the superman
Conclusively, the importance of spiritual direction cannot be overemphasize. We need spiritual direction, we should not be afraid when faced with difficulties and challenges. What should readily come to our minds is to go for spiritual direction where we can encounter God who speaks to us in consoling words through the Spiritual Director. Beloved in Christ, we are encouraged to always go for spiritual direction and if possible get a personal spiritual director. Your parish priest or any other priest or a trained lay faithful can serve as a spiritual director. Avail yourselves the opportunity for growth in Christ Jesus.