As we progress in our Christian life, spiritual guidance will come to us in many ways—from friends, teachers and many other sources. When, however, this guidance comes in the form of an intentional one-on-one conversation with the sole goal of one individual’s growth, this is spiritual direction. This special process includes three persons: the spiritual director, the directee, and most importantly the Holy Spirit, who is at the center of the practice of spiritual direction. Through regular meetings with a spiritual director, the directee comes to experience and understand God’s transforming work of the Holy Spirit, leading to an opportunity to more fully respond to God’s personal communication.
Historically, there are three Christians whose writings have had an especially significant impact on spiritual direction, especially as understood and practiced by Protestants. St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle provides a clear path to spiritual deepening and growth. The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross has given voice to the experience of the Christian when God seems to have vanished. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) wrote of his prayer and experiences with God and developed a systematic model for knowing Christ, which he called the Spiritual Exercises.
In recent years there has been a rediscovery of these men and women, as well as others who left to us writings on spiritual guidance and direction, and a deliberate attempt to adapt their disciplines, practices and teachings to the needs of the modern church (both Catholic and Protestant, in separate, converging streams.) It is this modern application of the ancient art which, when rooted in Jesus, is so exciting for the life and health of today’s church. Among current Protestant writers, we are blessed by the writings of Margaret Guenther, Jeannette Bakke, and Gordon T. Smith.
To contact an Emmaus spiritual director, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org