Finally - after taking the month of December off in reading this book. I am beginning the year with Spiritual Direction. The sad part is - Spiritual Direction today is scarce. We have so many church closings, seminary closings, monastery closings, convent closings. I ask - Where are our priests? Answer: busy trying to manage a parish by themselves or worse trying to manage two or three by themselves that have been consolidated.
I will begin with a sad story of my own experience. Since I was named after St. Bernadette by my Mother (at the wish of my Grandmother), I have been graced with a love of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was truly a grace that I will always thank God for. I had my grandmother's Catholic saint books to read as a child since she passed away when I was six years old and my grandfather passed these books on to us. I realized at a young age that reading saints lives was truly what we should do since we are to "die just like Grandma someday". Death became real to me - thanks be to God. To make a long story short - I desired to give my life to God as a religious. My father gave me a book he found in a garage sale on Convents in the United States. This was in the 1960's and some were already closing. I chose The Monastery of the Visitation and not the one in Toledo, OH (which was closer to me) - I had to go to Bethesda, MD so I could be near the US Capitol and pray for my country! I wrote to the monastery and Mother Mary of the Sacred Heart told me that I needed a letter of referral from my Pastor. I walked to my parish of about six blocks with the address in hand and was very nervous about what he may ask me - rehearsing my possible answers. I knocked on his rectory door and he did not invite me in (this was January) but stood at the door listening to what I was there for. He took the address written on a piece of paper that I had in hand and said that he would be glad to write that for me and closed the door. That is an example of typical Modern Day Spiritual Direction. Needless to say, I went on my retreat, came back - met my husband and married. Knowing what I know now about the Church's troubles - this was a blessing and God's Will was done. The Monastery in Bethesda, MD closed after I had been married for about 5 years and is now a government building. I cry each time I think of this sacrilege.
Back to the subject of Spiritual Direction - good luck today! But read on - there is hope! With God all things are possible!!
This chapter is very beautiful and St. Teresa had four spiritual directors that one day became canonized saints! Some were well known theologians. Therefore, she was blessed with good and holy men. If you remember in our previous writing and reading, she lived at a time during the Inquisition. Books were scarce and those they had - they had to burn. Our blessings are the books written by holy theologians and saints! We are living in a time when books are far from being scarce. I once detested the computer because of what it would do to society - my children will tell you - I refused to be on one. When I discovered that I could find out-of-print AMAZING Catholic books - this changed my mind! We can use this device for good - but we must be aware of its evils as my latest talk under "Talks" - presents.
I do not want to keep anyone from reading this chapter but it truly belongs to those who can find a real Spiritual Director who not only is knowledgeable but is also experienced in a true life of prayer.
I highly recommend the book by the late Father Thomas Dubay on Spiritual Direction call "Seeking Spiritual Direction" Here is a site that sells them:
The reason I recommend this book over this chapter (although the chapter has a wealth of knowledge) is because it addresses Q & A for those who can not find a director and those who think they have found one. It will give you guidance on what to look for and ask for in a good director. It will help you to make practical decisions in your progress and growth in prayer.
If you are serious about prayer and serious about progress - this book is a must.
In this Chapter VIII of "I Want to See God", the following:
Characteristics are Needed in a Director:
Characteristics needed in a Directee:
1. Spirit of Faith
2. Affectionate Confidence
3. Simplicity and Discretion
The director is someone that submission is due as he guides the spiritual progress of the soul. Again, St. Teresa had accessibility to true theologians and saints. If we are lacking in this today, we have the writings of the saints. It is even said of St. Alphonsus deLiguori when writing "The True Spouse of Jesus Christ" for religious sisters, that many sisters come to him with concerns that they can find answers for in a book.
Use prudence and discretion when getting advice today. Truly read "Seeking Spiritual Direction" by Fr. Thomas Dubay and this book will answer your concerns and questions.
May Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and all the Carmelite saints pray for us!
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene