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  • Dr. Karen Shields Wright

What is Ignatian Spiritual Direction?

Updated: Nov 16

"(Ignatian Spiritual Direction addresses) what is in one’s daily life as one prays their way through life’s complex decisions and interpretations of their spiritual experiences in those everyday life's circumstances." Joseph Tetlow, SJ

"For I am the vine you are the branches" (John 15:5) The Whole Person

Spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition services the whole person holding the balance at the threshold between prayer and everyday life. It is by prayer and self-examination that brings forth good fruits through the grace of God's gifting for us to discern the good we are to do. To grow in holiness. It helps one interpret the dynamic interplay of the head, heart, and hands. What we think is what we do and feel What we feel is what we think and do What we do is what we think and feel ​ “Since the God we seek is a busy God, we cannot let our interior life and prayer float above our daily life in our lifeworld. Our spiritual life roots in an experience of God freeing us from our sin so that we can present our bodies and everything we experience in a day, lifelong as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is our spiritual worship…" Joseph Tetlow, SJ ​ Who comes to Spiritual Direction? People experiencing a faith transition, or loss, or changes in self-perception, challenges within the normal flow of life, life transitions, changes in careers, or a yearning for God, to deepen their prayer life, to understand more of their interior life, to discover more deeply their unique relationship with Christ, and or finding God’s desire for their life. In looking for God, we often find ourselves Who we are Whose we are What we are called to be and do ( St. Ignatius' Principle and Foundation SE 23) ​ ​ Letting God Mold Us “Few people understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves wholly into God’s hands and if they were to allow God’s grace to mold them.” (St. Ignatius) ​​ ​ How does Ignatian Spiritual Direction help? Ignatian Spiritual Direction helps one discern their own way to find what God means for them to become and where is the best action to take. Ignatian director supports "the whole person in prayerfully discerning the next good thing as they try "to find God in all things." This is the process of discernment is coming to decision after prayerful attention to the heart, head, and hand on what will bring an increase of faith, hope, and love. ​​​ What does a Catholic spiritual director do? A Catholic spiritual director helps the retreatant to notice the presence and call of God in the circumstances of their everyday lives and to help find the words for talking about the encounters which deepen the experience of being in a relationship with one’s Creator. The director also guides one in sorting out the various interior ‘voices’ within and around them for discerning God’s will. ​ What is the Role of a Spiritual Director? Instructive Directive Contemplative ​ It is to:

  • help one notice areas in their prayer life they may have overlooked

  • offer practical considerations such as helping one organize time

  • share different methods of engaging from the Church’s tradition

  • teach about the discerning of spirits

  • help one how to listen for those prompts where they are coming from (Holy Spirit, self, or the ‘enemy or bad spirits’)

  • support one to notice and sort out distractions or attachments

  • suggest tools to mitigate the normal wandering of the mind to increase attention and focus

  • affirm how one is proceeding

​ At times spiritual direction sessions may enter into the other forms of spiritual companionship in order to assist the directee in finding God’s call in their life. Depending upon the circumstance the (human) spiritual director accompanies the retreatant/directee as a spiritual counselor, a companion, a facilitator, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, and always as a holy listener; for it is the Holy Spirit who is the Spiritual Director.



Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us!


For more information:

Ministry Services

Who We Are

How To Use Our Center

Ignatian Spirituality

The Spiritual Exercises

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