I recommend that you consider asking someone to be your spiritual director. This should be a person of great integrity in things spiritual, especially as it pertains to the contemplative approach. One of the reasons that an outside person is helpful to give you feedback on how you complete your contemplative practices is to guard against idolatry in your spiritual life. This means you are not only your own god but also your own church. No one can tell you what is right or wrong; you are the supreme authority in all things pertaining to God. Who better than you knows what the mind of God is, is the dominant thinking.

A spiritual director can challenge you on your lack of humility or keep you from thinking that you can just say you believe in God but don’t actually love your neighbor. Human nature tends to seek its own level of comfort. If you have ever been on a diet, you know what I mean. Intentions are initially good to lose weight, but there is a problem. It takes work. Businesses have been founded to help people with their diet by introducing accountability and moral support to their plan. Weight-watchers and Jenny Craig are some of the many examples of diets who provide human interaction to help you keep your focus. Some days are better than others. All diets work, it is the people who do not work at doing what they say they will do.

As a Lay Cistercian, I can go it alone, if I choose, but one of the helps to keep me honest with myself is a spiritual director or guide. This is someone I select to tell them of my routine, my goals, how I think I am doing, and get feedback. The danger of each of us being our own church is that we tend to believe the press we write about ourselves.


  • Choose someone you want to emulate or be like in their spirituality.
  • Lay Cistercians should select someone who knows that way of spiritual practice.
  • Meet once a quarter or as needed.
  • A spiritual director doesn’t have to know more than you, but should be someone you trust to help you move from self to God.
  • A spiritual director should be meek and humble of heart.
  • A spiritual director can be male or female.
  • A spiritual director should help you become what you read in Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict.
  • A spiritual director will hold you accountable to what you say you will do.


  • Having a spiritual relationship with another person means the two of you are focused on Christ as your center.
  • Hold your sessions in Church and preferably after Eucharist for 30 minutes or so. Use your common sense and the Holy Spirit to guide you.
  • In humility, open yourself to the Holy Spirit without conditions.
  • If your spiritual director does not fit with you or you feel uncomfortable, discontinue and get someone else.
  • Spiritual direction is no substitute for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is not counseling or therapy.
  • Before selecting a spiritual director, ask them three questions:
    • What is your center, your purpose in life?
    • Who wears the Shoes of the Fisherman, as we speak?
    • When was the last time you spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament?


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