Friday, July 9, 2010

Spiritual Direction

19Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."
21They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
22Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' "
24Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"
26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." (John 1:19-27)

The early history of the practice of spiritual direction is evidenced in the New Testament. St. John the Baptist is often considered the model for those who would later enter the monastic life. His withdrawal to the desert, his ascetic discipline, his call to repentance, his instruction about how to live a godly life, his humility, and his pointing to Christ as the one who brings the presence of God to the world, all show elements of Christian spiritual direction. The one who would give spiritual direction must first be one who has experienced the path down which she is leading others. Scripture gives evidence of spiritual guidance in the time of Jesus and the earliest days of the Christian community. People were not just taught about Christianity, they were helped to live Christianity.
We define Christian spiritual direction as help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship. Spiritual direction is a form of soul care and its practice has been rediscovered throughout the Christian community due to the growing experience of spiritual emptiness. There is an overwhelming need in the Christian community to experience God more personally.
Cultivating an awareness of God’s presence is the foundation of the practice of spiritual direction. The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a person’s life, to get behind the fa├žade of conventional gestures and attitudes which one presents to the world, and to bring out one’s inner spiritual freedom, one’s inmost truth, which is what Christians call the likeness of Christ in one’s soul. This is an entirely spiritual thing, for the work of rescuing the inner person from automatism belongs first of all to the Holy Spirit. In spiritual direction the goal is to seek discernment of how the Holy Spirit is leading a particular person’s life but at the same time to recognize that God has already revealed much of what we need to know. The spiritual director helps us to learn to recognize that revelation.

Are you looking to deepen your relationship with God? Not sure how to improve your prayer life? Spiritual direction is available.

"Then Jesus said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". (Luke 9:23)

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