Saturday 28 August 2021

Making the Most of Spiritual Direction - Antonio P. Villahoz

Making the Most of Spiritual Direction
Antonio P. Villahoz
ISBN 9781594172298
eISBN 9781594172304

I have yet to read a book from Scepter Publishers that has not been of benefit. And this book packs a lot of information into a small volume of just 4 chapters. The description of the book is:

“Many already appreciate the importance of spiritual direction in the interior life. But having a good director is not enough. One must also know how to make the most of spiritual direction.

This book will help you to prepare well for your time in spiritual direction. It describes the four keys to a successful conversation with your director and offers a list of topics that should be covered. It will help you discern what is important and what is not important to talk about in spiritual direction.

Making the Most of Spiritual Direction is a helpful aid to beginners and to those with more experience, as well as priests and those entrusted with giving direction to others.”

And the chapters are:

What Is Spiritual Direction?
The Keys to Success
A Guide to Avoid Getting Lost
Texts About Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is something I have known about since I was first involved with Campus Ministries over 30 years ago now. And yet it is something that I can always work at more. Be better at. And grow from. So this little volume was an excellent read, and at a timely juncture in my life. I highlighted several passages my first time reading through this book, some of them are:

“Don’t limit yourself to reading these pages as you would a newspaper. More than reading this book, I suggest that you think about it, that you really look at how it can help you. Don’t be frightened by seeing how far you might be from real spiritual direction. But do make a greater effort to learn the task of knowing yourself in order to make yourself known.”

“God speaks with deeds. He speaks through circumstances. He speaks through everything that happens to us. He speaks through every person he puts on our path, and he speaks in a very special way through those persons who help improve our lives as Christians through spiritual direction.”

“Francis Fernandez Carvajal says, “No one can, ordinarily, guide himself without a special help of God. The lack of objectivity, the passion with which we view ourselves, laziness, cloud our path towards God… And when there’s no clarity there comes spiritual stagnation, accepted mediocrity, discouragement, tepidity.” 2 This explains the importance of having spiritual direction.”

“Carvajal points out a “touchstone” that will help us find this person: “There is a key point for knowing whether we have made the correct choice: if he helps us, with understanding, to find our Lord in all the events of our life, and to identify our will with God’s will, even though this takes sacrifice.” 4 What will certify for us that we have found the right person is seeing that through our conversation we are a little bit closer to God, although it takes effort to struggle where it is indicated.”

“This much is true: It is not enough to have a spiritual director or know we are going to speak with him or her. The important thing is that we understand our dispositions beforehand and know how we are going to carry out that conversation.”

“It is not a matter, therefore, of merely making an interior introspection of what has happened to you but of comparing your life and your struggle with the life of Jesus with the purpose of uprooting and getting rid of all that separates you from God. This requires sincerity.”

“If you want a good remedy for the struggle to be sincere, begin by sharing whatever is most difficult for you. By revealing first what you would not like anyone to know, you will have won a victory over the price of not being sincere. Besides, do you think the priest with whom you speak does not know that we all have feet of clay and carry many defects within us?”

“Therefore, it is very important that you frequently look over the points of struggle that you became aware of during spiritual direction. Never tire of struggling.”

“It is very useful to designate a fixed date and time with your spiritual director so that you don’t allow other obligations to cause you to put off that conversation until the opportune occasion arises, which of course will almost never happen. Ask yourself what interval is right for your soul, given your circumstances, and submit yourself to this schedule with a determination never to miss that appointment.”

“You should bring up anything since your last conversation that has caused you concern, made you suffer, or brought you joy. Talk about what is on your mind and in your heart, what you habitually think about when you are at home or at work, what takes away your peace, what makes you smile, what discourages you, what inspires you, and what your dreams are.”

“During what periods of the day are you most forgetful of God? Is it when you are out running errands, in school, at work, at home, or engaged in sports or exercise? What efforts have you made to avoid that carelessness? Ask yourself honestly how much God counts in your life and how this is reflected in your daily activities.”

If we really want to grow in the spiritual life we need help. And one of the best sources for that help is a spiritual director. This little volume will help make spiritual direction much more profitable and meaningful. It is an excellent resource. A book any Catholic could benefit from reading and applying. An excellent resource, for an individual, home, church or school library. 

Pick it up, give it a read and strive to live it out.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Note: The author has several books available in Spanish, but this is the only one currently available in English.

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