Would you like to grow closer to God? Are you desiring to better understand what God is calling you to? Are you in need of spiritual healing? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you might want to consider Spiritual Direction.
Spiritual Direction is a process designed to help people improve their communication with God. The director is responsible for helping the directee with their prayer life so that they get more out of it. This will include helping the directee analyze what has been discovered through past prayer time and encouraging them to consider particular prayers in the future that might be helpful. The goal is not to tell the directee what God is guiding them towards but instead to help them understand those insights themselves through their own prayer life.
In addition to being an ordained Deacon (which includes training for ministering to the the sick and dying, people dealing with interfaith relationships, those struggling with financial issues or otherwise struggling with their relationship with God), I have two additional qualifications.
The smaller of the two is that I have been trained to administer the FOCCUS inventory for engaged couples. FOCCUS is a program to help engaged couples be ready for marriage by having them talk through their differences and issues, with a strong emphasis on any religious and family differences. I believe these skills are quite useful in Spiritual Direction when any relationship issues are involved.
But far more consequential is that I am also a trained Ignatian Spiritual Director. After ordination I took at 2-year training program through the Sacramento Center for Ignatian Spirituality. This program trained me to direct people who would like to participate in the St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, in particular what is called the 19th Annotation. As part of that I learned general Spiritual Direction principles as formulated by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Currently I offer two forms of direction:
In monthly direction, we will meet once a month for about an hour to discuss how your relationship with God has been progressing the last month and talk about ways to continue growing closer to God in the coming month. There are a couple of prayer forms that will be suggested (in particular the daily Examen prayer and occasional selected Scriptural Contemplations) but there is a fair amount of overall flexibility. The expectation is that you are praying for at least a half hour a day.
When starting monthly direction, I ask that you meet with me for 3 weeks in a row before settling into our monthly routine. In those sessions we will cover the following:
- Week 1: An overview of Ignatian Spirituality including the first principle and foundation as well as consolation and desolation
- Week 2: A review of your prayer life up until now and a plan for the 1st week of direction. This will include introducing two forms of prayer: the Examen prayer, which I would like you to include in your daily prayer at least initially, and scriptural contemplation which we will use (as needed) throughout direction.
- Week 3: A review of the previous week’s prayer time and a plan for the next month. Week 3 will be very similar to the on-going monthly meetings, so you can think of it as the first “monthly meeting”.
It is important that these first 3 meetings be done in relatively short order (thus weekly) so that we can get into the flow of monthly direction more quickly and we can correct any issues before we get too far into the process.
When St. Ignatius created the Spiritual Exercises, he originally intended them to be experienced through an intense 30 day retreat. It was mostly focused on clergy and religious. But he quickly found that there was demand for a similar process (generally for lay people) who couldn’t find time for a 30 day retreat. This alternate process spreads the 30 days over 30 weeks and the retreatant will meet with a director weekly, usually for about an hour.
As one can imagine, a weekly retreat-like program requires intense daily prayer, usually over an hour a day. Thus this program is only for those who are able to:
- Dedicate themselves to a regular daily prayer routine, including a number of specific prayer forms that are needed to progress in the 19th Annotation.
- Can make time for an intense hour-long weekly meeting.
- Can embrace challengingly weekly prayer assignments.
This process is best started in September or early October so that it well aligns with the liturgical year.
Many people do not know that deacons are not paid. We don’t get a monthly stipend or salary and we do not receive an offering for assisting at Mass. Our ministry is entirely a volunteer one. In many ways, that is a great privilege and a gift. There is no greater service than that which is done freely. However, it does mean that we are expected to provide for our families through whatever means we are able, usually our regular full-time jobs.
Related to that, and with much deliberation, I decided to charge for Spiritual Direction for two reasons:
- I believe there is a strong need for Spiritual Directors and I would be happy to be able to do it on a full-time basis. To do that, it would need to provide me an income. While I don’t see that happening for a number of years, charging now will make it so that I could consider transitioning to half-time work in my profession or retiring early. Also, by setting this sort of standard, I would help establish the idea that Spiritual Direction is something that is appropriate to pay for and thus potentially open up the possibility for others to consider doing it either part-time or full time.
- I think it is important to establish that this is something valuable and important. We pay psychologists for their time. We pay consultants for their time. And we do so because their services are valuable and important. Charging for direction ensures that the directee understands that they are using a valuable resource and to take it seriously.
There are a few exceptions to the above. If you are a priest, deacon or religious, or are in formation for any such role, there is no fee. You can consider your service to God and the Church your payment. Additionally, if you truly can not afford direction, or if you would just like a few sessions to work through a few issues, I will consider doing it for a reduced fee or even without cost on a case-by-case basis.
Here is the pricing:
- Individual/extra sessions: $50 each
- Monthly direction: $500 a year
- 19th Annotation (30 sessions): $1200
Unfortunately, I am unable to take a large number of directees. I am a husband, a father of 4, a deacon and a full-time employed engineer/manager. As such, I have discerned I have time for no more than eight sessions a month. That might be eight different monthly directees or it might be one 19th Annotation and four monthly directees depending on the demand.
As such, I need to make sure that I am choosing wisely who I direct. I need to focus on those who both are ready to embrace Spiritual Direction and those who are most in need of it.
If you would like to be considered, please send me an e-mail (if you don’t know my e-mail address, use the “Contact Me” form linked in the top right corner of this page) and provide the following information:
- Phone number
- E-mail address
- When during the week are you generally available for an in-person meeting at St. Clare (evenings? early mornings? lunchtime? weekends?). Be as specific as you can.
- Which form of direction you would like (Monthly or the 19th Annotation)
- A paragraph (or two) explaining your current prayer routine
- A paragraph (or two) explaining why you desire Spiritual Direction
- A paragraph (or two) explaining what you hope to get out of Spiritual Direction
I’ll reply within a few days and let you know my availability, any concerns I might have and whether I think we should have an in-person meeting to decide together if we’d be a good fit/match.
Finally, it is important that each year we review whether we should continue for another year. As part of our annual anniversary meeting (or at the conclusion of the 19th annotation) we will discuss on-going direction.
Thank you again for taking the time to consider Spiritual Direction. Spiritual Direction has been a great gift to me and has greatly improved my relationship with God. That’s why I decided to get trained… to share that gift with others. As a double blessing, each person I have directed thus far has been a joy and a gift to me, challenging me to further grow in my own relationship with God. I look forward to the opportunity to share that gift with you.
God Bless you!