Q. What should be the role of a spiritual director? And should it be a priest or a member of a religious order?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
Choosing a spiritual director can be challenging. What ought we to seek in such an individual? We might consider Jesus’ remark in his Sermon on the Mount. He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:14-15).
Light makes things bright and it makes them warm. Thus, it encourages them to grow. This is the task of a spiritual director.
An axiom of our faith teaches that “no one gives what he does not have,” so would-be spiritual directors must be enlightened by prayer and study. Should this be a priest? Priests are probably those to whom we first think of turning, but they may not be the best choice simply because parochial duties may not allow them time for study and anything other than required prayer.
Members of religious communities — women and men — are expected to develop deep interior lives, so they might prove a better choice. Today, many lay individuals have pursued formal study in spiritual direction, so they, too, offer another potentially fruitful option.