When the Lord has brought us to a place in our spiritual journey where we meet interior roadblocks, dryness and aridity in our prayer life, when we feel like we are in a sort of spiritual homelessness, we often seek Spiritual Direction.
We search for someone who is learned in Sacred Scripture, who is wise in the discernment of spirits, someone who will be a holy listener, who will see beyond our feelings, who will shed light on our sufferings and help us to understand why God has declined to prevent the circumstances that bring about these trials.
A spiritual director is someone who pledges their desire to God to spiritually adopt us, pray and offer sacrifice for us, stand in the breach for us, someone who walks in silent and awed humility alongside the Spirit of God to represent our soul.
Someone who has suffered deeply in order to be given the privilege of being a spiritual director to one of God's chosen few.
The greatest tool in spiritual direction is the relationship between the spiritual director and the Divine.
If finding such a servant of God is difficult, we remember that the Holy Spirit is the Principal Actor in our spiritual journey into Christ, God, Who is the Divine Guest of our soul. He is never not available to direct us. He is never not Present in our soul. He can never abandon Himself. We are One in Him.
It is in, through and with His Holy Spirit that we can discern if our suffering and trials are His chosen tools to purify our soul. We learn a great deal about ourselves when we bring such thoughts to prayer. This is why St. Teresa of Jesus warns us never to leave the cell of self-knowledge. It is in that room that we discover our disordered thoughts, our hidden motives, our self-loving pride which motivates our thoughts and behaviors.
"Dig deep and find diamonds" (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face).
These "diamonds" that we discover can be understood to describe our interior disorders. The Holy Spirit waits to shed piercing light on these blocks to our spiritual growth into self-emptiness in Christ Whom we seek. We ask His Wisdom to name them and be healed from them. Our disorders are transformed into diamonds when we give them to Him and ask Him for the grace to use them for the salvation of our soul and to transform us into His own Image.
If an incident takes place during our day when our pride feels nipped, the Holy Spirit waits to speak to us in our evening spiritual direction meeting with Him.
We meet Him at our evening, pre-scheduled prayer time.
We relate the event to Him.
He may ask us to examine every reaction we felt during the event, be it intellectual or emotional or spiritual.
He will grace us with an awareness of what it was that niggled us in the incident. He may direct us to a particular and very pertinent passage from Sacred Scripture.
And we will begin to find evidence of a disordered thought or a deep rooted selfish feeling or wounded ego, or most dangerous of all, a spiritual snobbery ...most dangerous of all because as St. John of the Cross teaches us, spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all of the 7 deadly spiritual sins. Spiritual pride kills the soul.
In this sacred and spiritually safe space with our Divine Spiritual Director, our knowledge of self deepens, He will heal us and we will give great glory to God.
This is an excellent description of where so many of my clients in spiritual matters are at. Many describe huge hurt or senses of loss in their lives. As a psychiatrist, I do not have the ability or qualifications to direct them spiritually. I have found this blog to be incredibly helpful and will be using this blog entry going forward to help them decide on how to find a spiritual director. Thank you.ReplyDelete
This writer knows of which she speaks. I wish I had read this kind of inspired writing many many years ago. It would have stopped my ego from running dangerously amok and my lack of self knowledge leading me to make the same mistakes again and again. Never heard of St. Teresa of Jesus but will be researching her now. This is the kind of spiritual advice that should be available in schools and colleges. Lives could be changed for the better.
I love Anna’s work and read her blogs frequently. They are never anything less than inspired. So I read this with some arrogance given my knowledge and experience of Carmelite prayer but I did not expect to be left so moved and disrupted by Anna’s description. Never has my self knowledge been so shaken and in a good, Spirit affirming way. I want to go on diamond mining with Little St. Therese but I know I have a long way to go to get there. Fortunately, I and so many others have Anna’s blogs to set us both on our path but also to guide us as lighthouses to the truths of our order and our faith. Thank you so much, Anna, dear treasured sister in Carmel. - Colleen.ReplyDelete
Excellent piece. Spiritual pride kills the soul. Thank you! I needed to hear those words.ReplyDelete
Yes. Kills the soul. /Absolutely pertinent and profound. Spiritual pride has plagued my whole spiritual journey and I did not realize it until reading this blog by Anna Rae OCD. She has awakened a huge, hidden gaping hole in my soul. Now I can ask the Holy Spirit and Our Lady of Mount Carmel to begin to change me for their purpose and eradicate all selfishness and self love in my life. Anna Rae presents hard truths and solutions but also never leaves us abandoned. Her call outs to Carmelite saints and scripture are like lifeblood for me. Bless you Anna for this incredible work.ReplyDelete
“Our disorders are transformed into diamonds when we give them to Him and ask Him for the grace to use them for the salvation of our soul and to transform us into His own Image.”ReplyDelete
This is profoundly beautiful ,and so encouraging .
Thank you Anna !
There is such depth in this, thank you. Carmelite spiritual direction underpinned by their charism of prayer was life changing for me. A true path to the Almighty.ReplyDelete
Very well written, Anna. This is an uniquely Carmelite perspective but it translates and enhances for me to every possible human condition in our daily encounter with the Divine. Prayers and best wishes, BillReplyDelete
Gracias, hermana, Anna. Beautiful words for our Madre and Little Therese. Our Dear Mother of Carmel bless you richly.ReplyDelete
In all of your replies, I hear Our Lord speak: " My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14) He has made you His home. I can therefore truly say, I will meet you in the Most Holy Eucharist . And I will thank HimReplyDelete
Hi Anna, I'm looking for a good translation of the poems of St John of the Cross. I've got the large Complete works but looks for a slimmer volume for devotional use. Can you recommend?ReplyDelete
Hello Mark, you might search Rhina P. Espaillat. Her translations of the poetry of our Carmelite Doctor, St John of the Cross, are sensitive to his language when he describes the soul's journey in darkness, searching for the Divine. I have found it enriching too to accompany my reading of St John's poetry with, "A Study of the "Song of Songs" in the Works of St Bernard and St John of the Cross" (MAY 29, 2017 BY DR. WILLIAM R. LUCKEY, Ph.D). I also find daily wisdom and spiritual checkpoints in St John's "Sayings of Light and Love". In Christ Jesus.Delete
This is great. Thank you, Anna. Heading for amazon. Best, MikeDelete
Yes, Espaillat's translation of the poetry of St. John of the Cross is the best I have found also, Anna. Great blog entry. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Someone who would fearlessly , lovingly and sacrificially stand in the breach for us . What an amazing gift …. Sounds like Our Tender Lord.ReplyDelete
With Gratitude Anna
Wonderful and hope-filled article closely bound up with the life and charism of St Teresa, especially with the mystical graces which led her to undertake the renewal of Carmel and make prayer and contemplation its total commitment. Thank you for your great service to our order, Anna - Blessings, Sister Clare OCDReplyDelete
Never really clear on the role of the spiritual director until reading this today. This has made clear how a deep spirituality and life of prayer is just as essential for the Spiritual Director as much as it is for the client. Very good article.ReplyDelete
Con la gran alabanza de nuestra Madre, Santa Teresa, saludos desde Ávila y muchas bendiciones para ti, Ana.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this wonderful spiritual nourishment. In the country where I live, the faith is persecuted and our church meets in privateness. To read of these treasures gives great hope and allows our faith to flourish even in these difficult times. May our God's blessings be abudant on you and your family for this good work.ReplyDelete