Spiritual direction can deepen a person’s relationship with God, help them see more clearly how the Holy Spirit communicates with them, and make them more aware of God’s presence in their lives. It can also help a person see more clearly what God’s will is for them, thus encouraging them to form their thoughts and actions accordingly. A spiritual director can be a priest, religious, or layperson, but God is the One who directs the person. He works through the spiritual director, so you must choose a director wisely. I wasn’t looking for a spiritual director, and I didn’t want one. But the Holy Spirit kept bringing it to my mind, so I knew I needed to consider it. I spent a lot of time in prayer and discernment before making a decision, and then everything just fell into place. It is interesting how the Holy Spirit places within us the very thing He wants us to do and then waits for us to respond to His call.
Many of the articles I’ve written are directed toward people who have or are experiencing spiritual attacks or dryness. The content provided in them applies to anyone who is seeking to expand their relationship with God. All Christians can benefit from spiritual direction no matter what their situation. I’m focusing on my experiences because it is the only way I know how to communicate these things to others. When I was under a spiritual attack, I was severely oppressed and isolated myself from most people. I lived in fear, anxiety, and confusion, and struggled with feelings of doubt, discouragement, and despair. I believed the Lord had deserted me, and I didn’t know how to change my life. I was afraid and questioned my sanity every day. Because of that, I didn’t tell anyone what was happening to me. I kept every spiritual assault and temptation from the devil a secret, and that’s exactly the way he wanted it.
What I needed to do was take everything that I hid in darkness and expose it to the Light, which meant I had to give it all to Jesus. We need to participate in our own healing and spiritual growth. There are ways to accomplish this. Regular confession is necessary and extremely important, but time is limited there. I am in no way downplaying the sacrament of confession, just pointing out that it takes a great deal of in-depth work to break free from evil and the effects it can have on one’s life. A few minutes in the confessional doesn’t take the place of that work but gives a person the grace to embark on it. There are more extensive ways a person can do this, like journaling and spiritual direction. Journaling is writing down your deepest thoughts and concerns to God. It is telling Him everything that comes to mind, keeping nothing from Him. This builds intimacy and trust between you and God and defeats the devil’s plan to keep you bound. I journaled for a long time because I wasn’t ready to talk about the things that had happened to me with anyone else, and that was okay. My trust was damaged, and the Lord needed to restore that in me before I could take the next step.
Once I started journaling and writing down my story, the Lord began to heal me. But it took a long time. Years actually, but I finally started to feel more confident, and that is when the Holy Spirit placed the thought of spiritual direction in me. Over time, God drew my attention to a particular priest and showed me how we had a similar spirituality. I was still unsure and very apprehensive, but when our paths crossed on some very difficult life events, my trust in him increased. I had requirements for a spiritual director after what had happened to me. The person had to be a priest because a priest gives the Holy Spirit. He had to believe in the existence of the devil because I needed him to understand the things I was going to have to tell him. I wanted a priest who was versed in spiritual warfare and firmly believed in his priestly power to cast out demons. I also needed someone who could pray a minor exorcism over me. A layperson can’t do that. Only a Catholic priest has that kind of power. This is why for me, going to a layperson wasn’t going to happen. A minor exorcism is different from an exorcism in that the priest casts out demons that influence or harass people. An exorcism is done only by priests appointed by the bishop and is for people who are possessed. Meaning a demon or demons have taken over the whole person.
Now, I want to share something that happened to my husband and me a few years ago that will help show how important a spiritual director can be. One day out of the blue, I became very anxious and couldn’t calm down. I felt like I did when I was being attacked by witchcraft. I prayed my rosary and deliverance prayers as usual, but it didn’t help at all. Things just got worse. I started hearing footsteps upstairs when no one was there. I prayed and used holy water, but they didn’t go away. At the same time, my husband suddenly became very short-tempered and snapped at everything. Our lives and our relationship changed overnight. All this went on for about a month before I connected it to a spiritual attack. Once I figured it out, I called my spiritual director and told him what was going on. We already had a spiritual direction appointment set up, but he decided it would be best if he came to the house instead of me going to his office. We talked for a long time, and I explained everything that was happening. He could see I was frantic and sensed the evil. After our talk, he prayed a minor exorcism over me and blessed the house with an exorcism blessing. The whole atmosphere changed, and by the next day, everything was normal again. My husband was fine, I was no longer anxious, and the footsteps went away. This was a disturbance that I couldn’t solve on my own. I needed the help of my priest and spiritual director.
It doesn’t matter whether a person starts with private journaling or spiritual direction. It only matters that they begin. Every person and every situation will be different. If you need time to heal from whatever it may be, journal everything. You may not notice any changes in your life at first, but over time you will gain strength and find courage. Try to go to confession often. It is a safe place to express your spiritual sufferings and receive forgiveness for your sins. And that includes anything the devil uses to pull you away from Christ and into despair. A priest will sometimes give counsel in the confessional but not always. If that is something you’re looking for, go to different priests until you find one who offers some spiritual guidance in the confessional. You can get a good indication of a priest’s spirituality in confession, and it may end up being where you find your future spiritual director. When the idea of spiritual direction starts flooding your mind, the Holy Spirit may be calling you to it. Pray a lot, and wait longer than you think you need to before making a decision. Journal about it, listen to what the Lord is communicating to you, and wait for confirmation. All that means is that the Lord will reaffirm what He has been showing you more concretely. Maybe through scripture or a sermon. But He will make it clear, and then you will know. Once you find a spiritual director and they agree to see you, pray for them. It will greatly benefit him and you.
The Litany of Trust
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