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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, May 23, 2015
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

The need for spiritual direction

We all need to have spiritual direction. We have to allow the intricate workings of our spiritual life, which has to contend with all sorts of things in life, to be guided by somebody else, because though we are the ones who make the final decisions and choices, we all need to be enlightened, guided, suggested, even corrected.

Yes, we need spiritual direction because we have to explore our spiritual and apostolic possibilities, map out our plans for spiritual growth, expose and cultivate our hidden potentials, develop virtues and enliven our piety, not to mention, make strategies for our ascetical struggles.

This is part of the social character of our life. We do not live by our lonesome. Neither do we grow and develop toward maturity and fulfillment just by ourselves. We always need others—parents, teachers, friends, and those whom we allow to enter into the intimate world of our spiritual life.

We should never think that we can by ourselves direct our lives properly, that is, to direct ourselves to our ultimate supernatural goal. We are not engaged in some earthly destination only.

We need to open up to those who can guide us spiritually, letting ourselves be known as much as possible, just like a person consulting his doctor even though he has no particular complaint to make. We just want to make sure that we are in the right direction.

Besides, spiritual direction will help us to live humility, simplicity and sincerity, which are basic and indispensable virtues we need if we want to live our life properly. Much of the problems we have at present are due precisely to the absence of these virtues.

We need to have an open attitude, because even if there's such a thing as a proper sense of privacy, it does not mean that we can just go on with our life solely depending on our estimation of things. We should explode the myth that our sense of privacy and openness in spiritual direction are two incompatible things.

Of course, our spiritual director should be someone we can trust, someone we can confide in, first of all because of his or her competence and authority, plus the other human elements that would facilitate our opening up with him. In short, there is friendship.

Let's remember that our life is always a complicated life that has to grapple not only with the normal stages of development but also the many issues brought about by the different aspects of our life—our emotional and psychological self, our family and professional life, and the social, cultural, political, historical environment we live in, etc.

Especially these days when the temper of the times and the pace of world development speak of an ever-increasing number of issues to tackle, we should feel the more urgently the need for spiritual direction.

We should try our best to be transparent and, in fact, to be brutally sincere especially when we find ourselves in some vicious predicament.

This we can do if we consider spiritual direction not merely as some psychological exercise, but precisely as a spiritual exercise, based on our faith and love for God.

We have to remind ourselves that in spiritual direction, the main protagonist is, more than us and our spiritual director, the Holy Spirit. This is crucial, because without this awareness, our spiritual direction can degenerate into something merely human, with hardly any spiritual, let alone, supernatural value.

Without that awareness, our spiritual direction cannot be properly called spiritual direction, and it can be dangerous. We would be at the mercy of merely human and worldly conditionings.

Let's always remember that the Holy Spirit is always intervening in our lives. Though his promptings can be conveyed in many ways, one very important way is precisely through spiritual direction, where we make a conscious effort to prepare ourselves for it.

That's why both the spiritual director and the directee should bring things to their prayer, considering them in the presence of God and trying to discern what the Holy Spirit is trying to show them.

Our trust in our spiritual director should be such that we can say things as they are, calling a spade a spade, without embroidering them. We should allow the spiritual director to probe our spiritual life as much as he wants, even trying to see the deeper motives behind our thoughts, words and deeds, so that the appropriate piece of advice can be given.

If both director and directee do things well, we can expect to reap a lot of spiritual benefits.*

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