Fr. Roy Cimagala
“I SAY to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18,19-20)
We should always remember these words in our collective activities. We should never think that in our meetings and gatherings, we are simply on our own, guided only by our own agendas. God is in the middle in all these, and he should be the center and focus.
Collegiality should be understood in this way. Otherwise, what would we be doing?
And among these collective activities, special attention has to be given when we give or receive spiritual direction. In this specific means of spiritual formation, we need to realize that both the giver and the receiver are trying to discern the will of God as we face different issues in our daily life.
It is our way of trying to figure out what exactly is the Holy Spirit telling us, convinced that two heads are better than one in this delicate task of discernment. Obviously, the spiritual director is there to help, but the directee is the one who in the final analysis would have to make the decision.
It should be clear to both parties that it is Christ who is the model to be followed and the Holy Spirit who is the modeler to be obeyed. The spiritual director, no matter how holy and competent he is, is not the model nor the modeler. He just helps, encouraging the directees to be close to God, opening horizons to them, motivating them, making suggestions, etc.
To be sure, spiritual direction can only be properly done in the context of prayer, always aware of God’s continuing, merciful and wise providence. It is our way of sustaining our effort at sanctification as we face all the trials and challenges of our daily life. It should not be done only in the level of some psychoanalytic exercise.
Of course, it helps that the spiritual director always gives good example and, in fact, should try his best to be consistent in the public testimony of his genuine Christian life. But in giving spiritual direction, he just helps. He has to respect the freedom of his directee, never imposing his own concrete ways, though he may suggest them if they are compatible with the directee’s way of being.
He has to be most sensitive to the temperament of the directee, and quick to adjust when he notices differences in this area. He should be knowledgeable enough to identify the specific spirituality the directee is manifesting, trying to develop it as fully as possible. He should not impose his own spirituality, and therefore should be open to all kinds of Church-approved spiritualities and charisms, of which he should be familiar.
He should be so broad-minded, patient and understanding as to inspire the sincerity of the directee. He should try not to be scandalized by anything, and should reassure the directee that he will defend the directee before God and men all the way.
On the part of the directee, he has to realize that he needs to have spiritual direction. No matter how gifted and holy he is, he will always need some guidance. Practically all the saints availed of a spiritual director. He has to choose his director freely, and goes through that spiritual means of personal formation because he wants to and not because it is expected of him or that he was told to do so.
Spiritual direction should be done in the spirit of friendship and brotherhood, where trust and confidence in the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit should prevail.