News
I was astounded by how active God was always, and in a very personal way.
Encountering God Through Spiritual Direction

March 10, 2017 - by Lisa Hastings

My experience of spiritual direction began long before I was ready for it. It was years ago and I was stumbling around on my faith journey. One of the priests at my Jesuit parish casually suggested “you should come and see me sometime.” He recognized my spiritual desiring before I did. I was recently married, growing into the role of stepmother, and had lost my mother, suddenly, to cancer. With little reason not to, I made an appointment. “So what’s going on?” he asked after I got settled. The flood gates opened… 

And so began the spiritual conversations, off and on to this day and with different spiritual directors, that have had a profound impact on my relationship with God, my spiritual life, and my way of seeing and being in the world. Long before I learned the Ignatian terminology of disordered attachments, discernment of spirits, and “freedom from versus freedom for,” I learned to look for what was good and fruitful in my life and recognize how easily I got derailed by anxiety and self-doubt. Mostly, I learned to pay attention. I was astounded by how active God was always, and in a very personal way. 

A spiritual director is someone with whom you can talk confidentially about your prayer and spiritual life. Conversations with a director include all the “stuff” of ordinary life—work, family, relationships, joys and sorrows, excitement and despair—and seek to notice God's presence, laboring, and invitation in the midst of it all. A director helps you explore the darkness of self-doubt, confusion, and fear so that you are able to be free of what blocks you from God's loving presence. The director will listen and support you, and may gently question, challenge, and suggest ways of praying and specific content of prayer. Above all, the conversation takes place in a prayerful atmosphere where both you and the director acknowledge the movement of the Spirit in every aspect of your life. It is this focus on your relationship with God that distinguishes spiritual direction from psychological counseling or therapy. 

Spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition reflects Ignatius’ commitment to the art of spiritual conversation as a means of “finding God in all things.” For his own spiritual growth and in ministering to others, Ignatius constantly engaged in spiritual conversation, the fruits of which he later codified into the Spiritual Exercises. A key component of undertaking the Exercises is meeting regularly with an experienced spiritual guide. 

Despite its historical roots and the popularity of Ignatian spirituality today, spiritual direction for many remains mysterious, even intimidating. Some assume that it is reserved for the “spiritually mature.” On the contrary, spiritual direction is an accessible means, much like the Ignatian examen, of noticing God movement in one’s life. Also like the Examen, spiritual direction helps develop the habit of discernment, which enables you to be more attentive to how God is leading and guiding you. Seeking out a spiritual director is about acting on the desire to know God more deeply. 

I am grateful for God’s initiative all those years ago that led me into spiritual conversation with a wise and attentive director. During this Lenten season, I invite you to ponder spiritual direction as a new (or continued) way of growing closer to God.

For more information on spiritual direction, click here.





Recent News

Applications are now being accepted for "The Ignatian Charism for the World Today: An International Immersion Course on Ignatian Spirituality," which is offered by the "Cova Sant Ignasi" International Center for Spirituality in Manresa, Spain. The course, offered in English, is limited to 35 participants, and applications will be accepted through mid-September 2017.

Free, online access to numerous scholarly publications and sources in the Jesuit Studies field is now available, thanks to a project of the Boston College Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. The Portal to Jesuit Studies is meant to serve as a "Jesuit Google," strengthening the institute's efforts to serve as a resource on the history, spirituality, and pedagogy of the Society of Jesus.

Save the date, October 21-22, 2017, for Jesuit Friends and Alumni Sunday, an opportunity for alumni and friends of Jesuit schools to share our common bonds through the celebration of liturgy, followed by a reception highlighting opportunities for continuing spiritual growth and service to the local and global community.

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Fr. Brian McDermott, SJ, addressed our Ignatian spirituality conference "We Walk with a Heart That Does Not Rest." More than 400 people participated in the conference either in person or online.

Ignatian-inspired leadership is other-focused. Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, instructed us that our work must form women and men for others. Being a leader “with and for” others means considering the needs of those we are serving.

Our Hispanic Ministry is keeping busy with programs and retreats during the Lent and Easter seasons. Here is some information about upcoming opportunities, as well as a couple of recaps from last month.

It’s been said that the church doesn’t have a mission, the Mission has a church. In looking at what “mission” means from an Ignatian context, I find this helpful.

view all news

Search news

Publications

JESUITS Magazine: Spring 2017

OIS Catalog of Spiritual Directors - Process

CLA Brochure 2017


Loyola Retreat House
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.