Spiritual Direction/Spiritual Guidance/Spiritual Accompaniment are interchangeable terms used to describe the relationship/process whereby an individual is companioned on their spiritual journey with the aim of finding meaning beyond the moment and growing closer to God, and others. It has a long and treasured history in all religious traditions – as the ‘Anam Chara’ in our own Celtic tradition. In an atmosphere of confidential, contemplative listening a ‘Spiritual Conversation’ takes place which invites both the person seeking guidance and the person accompanying them to hear the gentle voice of God in the heart and the events of everyday life, including distractions, of the one seeking guidance. The person seeking guidance is reassured when tempted to give up; discouraged when tempted to move too rashly; encouraged and helped to continue to listen for God’s presence in all aspects of their life by, among other things, praying with scriptureA frequent misconception is that spiritual direction/guidance/accompaniment is only for priests and religious or even for only the pious faithful. Rather it is for and available to anyone who seeks to nourish their hunger for God; make sense of their sacred story in the complexities and distractions of life or seeking to discern a new way forward, possibly in the midst of crisis.
A spiritual director/guide/companion is neither a ‘big buddy’ nor a guru telling you what to do. Rather s/he in another pilgrim on the journey of life who has both the gift of listening to and holding the sacred story of others and has received the requisite training from a recognised training programme. S/he is also attentive to his/her own spiritual growth through personal spiritual direction and qualified supervision. The Spiritual Director’s Code of Ethics and Practice inform and safeguard their work and they are covered by public liability and professional indemnity insurance.The following websites will help if you want to find out more about spiritual direction and spiritual directors: All Ireland Spiritual Guidance Association www.aisga.ie Spiritual Directors International www.sdiworld.org Spiritual Directors in Europe www.sd-europe.org Manresa – Jesuit Centre of Spirituality www.manresa.ie