If your resolution this year is to have a better relationship with God, a spiritual director might just help you keep it.
According to Dan Burke, executive director of EWTN's National Catholic Register, having a spiritual director can help you resist vices that prevent the achievement of virtuous goals.
"Spiritual direction helps to identify those struggles that constantly recur and hinder progress," he said in a statement Tuesday touting his new book Navigating the Interior Life, Spiritual Direction And the Journey to God.
"One of the most clarifying lenses through which we can evaluate this is through the seven capital sins. This clarity is the starting point to identify how we can resist vices that stand in opposition to the virtues we desire," stated Burke, who is also the founder of the blog Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.
In a follow-up telephone interview, he noted that the inspiration for the book came through his own experience in pursuit of spiritual growth. "I wasn't able to evaluate my own progress objectively and I wasn't able to lead myself spiritually to places I'd never been," he said.
Unlike a psychologist, a trusted friend or even your pastor, Burke believes the role of a spiritual director is defined by a combination of objectivity, availability, and spiritual maturity. "It's really a more mature version of discipleship," he said.
Among other things, he said, a good spiritual director must be a devout Christian with a strong prayer life. "The best way to pursue healthy accountability is through someone you trust to have the best interest of your soul at heart as you seek to deepen your faith," he said.
And Barbara Stahley, a spiritual director and devout Christian from Hoboken, N.J., agrees. There are many factors that can determine the right fit in selecting a spiritual director, she said before advising that "not everybody is a match."
She says even though she has served as a spiritual director since the early 1980s she has a spiritual director herself. "In fact, I'm actually on my way to see my spiritual director now," she said during her interview with The Christian Post.
A global database of spiritual directors at Spiritual Directors International is a good place to start your search. While most of them don't charge, said Burke, it's appropriate to pay your spiritual director about $60 an hour.
Stahley, who is uncomfortable accepting payment for her service, says "if a person has the resources, I usually ask them to write donations to a charity."
Steve Splonskowski, a father of seven who works in Catholic radio, said in a statement that he has received spiritual direction for 20 years and it has been a blessing.
"It helps me discern where God is leading me not just spiritually, but professionally and personally and it's good to have someone challenge me to try harder," said Splonskowski. "My wife and I share the same director so he leads us to grow closer to each other and to God."
Travis Schweitzer, father of six and owner of a construction company said spiritual direction has also helped him. "A spiritual director can help you find spiritual wounds and parts of your past that you might not even realize are affecting you," he said in a release. "It has helped me to discover where I am the weakest and then put those wounds at the feet of Jesus and trust in Him."
Burke's book, published just over eight weeks ago, is already in its second printing.