Fr. John Bartunek, LC: What Are The Key Characteristics Of Good Spiritual Direction?

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Art for this post on the key characterisitcs of good spiritual direction: Feature Image: Ein ernstes Gespräch (A Serious Conversation), Ludwig Johann Passini, by 1902, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

By  Fr. John Bartunek, LC, Catholic Exchange, Feb. 8, 2021

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. …

*This post was originally published on 7/2/2009.

Dear Father John, What are the key characteristics of good spiritual direction?

There are three ways to answer this question, depending on the point of view.

From the point of view of the person receiving it, spiritual direction is an extremely useful (many would say essential) help for growing in holiness, which is the same thing as growing in one’s communion with God, which is the same thing as growing in authentic wisdom and happiness. Having a spiritual director is like having a coach: they keep us objective and accountable, warn us of pitfalls, encourage us when we feel weak or discouraged, help clarify confusions and doubts, and make sure we are working intelligently in our efforts to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ more each day.

However, spiritual direction is no substitute for grace and faith. God’s grace, which normally reaches us through the sacraments and through prayer, is the source and nourishment of the Christian’s new and amazing life in Christ. Faith is our docile and active acceptance of, and collaboration with, God’s grace. Grace is supernatural nourishment, but faith is the exercise that turns that nourishment into growth. From this, we can infer the key characteristics of good spiritual direction:  …

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