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My Journey toward Finding a Spiritual Director

 

My Journey  toward Finding a Spiritual Director

About four or five years ago, I recalled hearing friends talk about receiving spiritual direction. At the time, our young girls were participating in Challenge, a group run by Regnum Christi. From time to time, the girls were blessed with opportunities to speak to the Consecrated women. The girls would spend time in prayer and go on walks and talk about life and where Jesus was in their lives. Moms could also sign up for times to seek spiritual direction from these same women. While I look back and see the benefit of it, I never did take advantage of it.

And my oldest daughter aged out of Challenge.

Then our oldest son started participating in Conquest, the all-boys version of Challenge, and also run by Regnum Christi. I saw the benefit my son received from having priests he could just chat with about everyday things, in addition to priestly vocations.

For the past 10+ years, I’ve been blessed with an amazing support of Catholic women, from relatives to our parish community and online friends in the Faith who help keep me anchored; however, I began to feel that tug to investigate and pray for a spiritual director. Why? I don’t know. I didn’t really feel like I had a legitimate reason for seeking spiritual direction, but without it, I felt a bit lost running a blog with no one to help give guidance and suggestions and pray for the blog’s endeavor. So, I prayed. And asked around. And was turned down. And prayed some more. And was turned down again. Finally, I put it in the prayer hopper and decided to forget about it.

I knew the right spiritual director was out there for me, but little did I know it would be someone I was already in contact with.

Four years. FOUR YEARS I waited for an answer to that prayer.

Now, I should back up and say that I was blessed to receive spiritual direction for a time from a priest who is incredibly knowledgeable of social media and very popular in Catholic circles. As much as I am indebted to the time he gave to me in the beginning stages of Catholic Sistas, I couldn’t shake this undeniable feeling that I was still in search of who could really hold my feet to the fire.

Someone who…

…knew me really well.

…I worked with.

…knew what my work ethic looked like {the good, the bad, and the ugly}.

…knew my husband, and the importance of my marriage.

…knew my family.

…saw my son serve Mass each Sunday and funeral Masses.

…reported when he saw my car at a neighbors house {yes, my teenager was BUSTED}.

…knew our parish was so important to us that we moved

from a mere seven minute drive to the neighborhood that borders the church.

…blessed our new home.

…baptized our screamy baby.

…gets all kinds of crazy e-mails from me,

from I’m having an awful day, please pray for me

to thanks for listening to me rant, here is a funny picture to repay you.

…wouldn’t tickle my ears.

…understands that no matter what opportunities may be out there

with the blog, the home front always comes first and challenges me to always see that.

…would know how to challenge me to do more for the Kingdom.

…was our parish priest.

I’m guilty of e-mailing this.

After two years of monthly meetings with him as chairperson of our pastoral council, I couldn’t think of anyone who was a better choice. But, I still had to ask. And, true to his German roots, the response was exactly as I expected. I had to answer a series of questions as to the nature of spiritual direction, what I thought it was, and why I thought I needed it. Expected, yes. Nerve racking? YOU. BETCHA.

Though Father is not {by his own admission} super knowledgeable of some most all things social media, he does know a lot about leadership, discipleship, and running the largest parish in our diocese {20K+}. That counts for a lot in my book! I am so thankful that I no longer have to pray for a spiritual director, and am now in a place where I feel I can share my experiences, the good as well as all the warts, and know that someone else is helping me navigate this spiritual journey.

Have you been seeking a spiritual director?

Here are some tips I hope you find useful in your discernment process.

1. Pray. Yeah, I say this a LOT in my posts. But, it’s true. If you aren’t praying, don’t be surprised with what turns up. Not sure who to help assist you in your discernment process? Two saints to call on are St. Charles Borromeo and St. Ephrem of Syria. Want to expand your circle of prayer warriors? Try Jen Fulwiler’s Saint Name Generator. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to find a spiritual director. Keep faith that whatever the timeline is, two months, four YEARS – just know that God is in all of it, even the journey.

2. Ask around. You’ll never know if someone is a potential candidate for being a spiritual director unless you ask. Don’t be afraid of being turned down {not rejected…turned down!}. If you are seeking out a diocesan priest, keep in mind their schedules are crazy busy.

3. Resist the urge to go with someone who doesn’t know you very well. If you are looking for good, thorough feedback, it’s good to go with someone who is going to ask tough questions, and that generally happens with someone who knows you, warts and all. In the event that you don’t know someone well, make it a point to share a wide range of information about yourself so that your spiritual director can steer  you in the right direction while challenging you, spiritually.

4. Keep a monthly standing appointment. It’s good to receive direction as often as you go to confession. If you make it a point to meet monthly, at minimum, you will see the fruit of those meetings. It will also help your spiritual director keep things fresh in his mind as to the details of your life.

5. Prepare before your meetings. I’m a bit of a nerd, and a listaholic, so I tend to jot things down that are important to me that I want to talk about. Of those, only a couple of them are ever that important that I absolutely bring it up during our meeting. I have learned to be more ASL {As the Spirit Leads}, and trust that if it’s something I’m meant to talk about, the time will present itself. I currently have issues I’ve been chewing on for the better part of a year. I trust that when the time is right, it will come up. Until then, I let go and focus on what I need to deal with for the present meeting.

SOUND OFF: Are you currently receiving direction? Do you have any tips for our readers?

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About Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife to Neil, and mother to seven kiddos here {and three in heaven}– 4/96-1/17. She decided to homeschool the kiddos in 2010 after many years in public schools and is currently transitioning out of homeschooling. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. She is also a Seal of Approval evaluator for the Catholic Writers Guild. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina has enjoyed getting out into the community by serving on the Pastoral Council from 2010-2013. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the Austin diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor.

  • Holly - There are a few Schools that certify Spiritual Directors in the US. Only three are widely accepted as solid, faithful and reliable programs- Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence in Clearwater, FL; The Apostles of the Interior Life in Kansas City; Lanteri Center in Denver. The schools in Clearwater and Denver teach Spiritual Direction using St. Ignatius’ way of praying with scripture. The Cenacle’s program is associated with Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH and is the only program with a university affiliation. All three are well-respected. You can call and ask if they have any graduates in your area and arrange to meet- that is what we did when we moved to a new state.

    One of the reasons we choose not to seek formal direction from our priests is we know how ridiculous their schedules are and one of the things we feel the Lord calling us specifically to do is to strongly support our priests and ease their time burdens.

    What is spiritual direction?
    http://divineprovidence.org/school-of-spiritual-direction

    One of the things I’ve learned most about spiritual direction after nearly ten years is that my director’s “job” is not to tell me what to do, but to help open my heart to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice more loudly and clearly in my own life and prayer life.March 31, 2014 – 7:23 amReplyCancel

  • Mary - I wish you all the best in your search–I want a spiritual director, too!April 1, 2014 – 10:03 amReplyCancel

  • SATURDAY EDITION | BigPulpit.com - […] – Dr. Ed Peters U of Notre Dame Honors Pro-Life Politico with Award – Adelaide Mena My Journey Toward Finding a Spiritual Director – Martina Kreitzer, Cth Sists Jesuit Priest Murdered in Syria Witnessed to Christ’s Love […]April 12, 2014 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • DS Thorne - My first and last attempt at finding a spiritual director was in college, at a point where I realized I really needed it. They (the cloth running the campus ministry) looked at me like a throwback from the Middle Ages for having used that term. A chastening experience. Thanks to Martina for giving me another nudge.

    ~DS Thorne, kindlefrenzy.weebly.comApril 14, 2014 – 11:53 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - I think I still have a spiritual director. Haha! Yes, I said “think.” I was receiving spiritual direction for a while from a priest I know; not from my parish, but he’s in my diocese and I knew him from other encounters. The funny thing is, when I was discerning spiritual direction, I decided to ask a priest at the campus parish (I work on campus and so sometimes attend daily Mass there, and the priest there used to be assigned to my home parish). So I really felt like he might be a good person to do SD with. Well, I went over to the campus parish for Mass one day and he wasn’t presiding, but this other priest was. No big deal, I could ask him another time. Well, something this priest said in his homily really struck me and I realized that HE would actually be a good spiritual director for me. Anyway, we worked together for a few months and then things got crazy in my schedule and before I knew it, several months went by. And then I had another baby and now it’s been almost a year. I still consider him my SD, but we just haven’t met in a while. I want to meet again, but I can’t figure out where in my schedule to do it. So now might now be a good season in life for me to be doing this. In time, God will reveal when the right time is again. 🙂April 30, 2014 – 1:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Katie - my husband is a Protestant spiritual director with ecumenical training. He doesn’t know how to “market” his gifts and trusts God to direct people to him. This he is also in constant prayer for his directees. He is certified through Spiritual Directors International. My experience with direction has been with a complete stranger who let me be completely me. It takes a lot to be spiritually vulnerable with a stranger, but it was rich for meOctober 15, 2014 – 9:57 pmReplyCancel

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