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Can I Trust Spiritual Directors International?

By Dan Burke

We received the following inquiry from one of our readers:

“I just visited the regional Catholic young adults website for our diocese and was, at first, pleased to see that they were encouraging spiritual direction for young adults, even providing a list of spiritual directors, questions to ask a spiritual director, etc. I then found that they referred repeatedly to an entity called “Spiritual [Directors] International,” (http://www.sdiworld.org) which apparently seeks to somehow bring together, in one place, information and resources about spiritual direction for Buddhists, Christians, Eastern-Philosophy, Muslims, and Jews etc.

Here’s the introductory paragraph on the Spiritual Directors International home page:

“Do you want to be part of an inclusive, global contemplative movement that contributes to peace, justice, and living in right relationship with all creation? Together we are changing the world through the contemplative action of spiritual direction.”

I was taken aback that earnest young adults at this critical time of discernment in their lives were being guided to what seems to me to be an impossibly diverse and nebulous collaboration of spiritualities. What is wrong with this picture? And what, pray tell, could I do to help these naive young people, who are likely to be led astray? God have mercy! I now understand on a whole new level why you are so passionate about your work to help Catholics gain access to authentically Catholic spiritual direction.”

Obviously the person asking the question is more than capable of making a sound assessment of this situation. It seems very clear that Spiritual Directors International is consistent with their stated goals. However, to determine just how “inclusive” they are I decided to inquire as to whether or not a Catholic seeking spiritual direction through them could end up say, in the hands of a practicing Witch.

To do this I sent a simple inquiry into Spiritual Directors International. Here’s what I wrote and their response (emphasis mine):

Question Sent to SDI: “Would I be allowed to be a member [of SDI] as a Wiccan?”

Answer from SDI: “Thanks for asking. Yes, you would certainly be welcome to become a member! SDI is an inclusive, multi-faith global learning community and there are no requirements or conditions for membership or being listed on the Seek and Find Guide.”

There you have it, plain as day. The bottom line is that any Catholic seeking authentic Catholic spirituality and spiritual direction in keeping with the same would do well to steer clear of Spiritual Direction International.

 

This blog originally appeared on the Spiritual Direction website on March 2, 2020 and is reprinted here with the kind permission of Dan Burke.

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Why is Discerning God’s Will So Hard?

Even though all of us were created by God to do Him some definite service in this world, the reason why some of us find it so difficult to discern what that service is supposed to be is because we have a tendency to over-complicate the discernment process. Maybe this Lenten season is the time to get rid of that bad habit.

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Following a New Path – When God Changes His Mind

When it comes to following God’s will, the most challenging task can be figuring out just what His will is. Of course, prayer is a vitally important tool in this discernment process. Best case scenario: we ask God to disclose His plan for us, and circumstances fall into place, quickly and effortlessly, to lead us in the right direction.

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Seven Steps to Discern the Will of God

(Taken from Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life by Johnnette Benkovic)

On yesterday's Women of Grace Live radio program, I shared a teaching on discerning God's will, much of which came from by book Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life.  Here are the Seven Steps to Discerning God's will, in case you missed the program or didn't get a chance to jot them down.  You can also listen to the program in it's entirety at the podcast link here. God bless you!

1. Is the prompting fully in line with Sacred Scripture, the Ten Commandments, and the teachings of the Church? There is no contradiction in God.

2. Is the prompting proceeding from virtue or the flesh? “What is my motivation?”

3. Has this prompting been confirmed in other ways? God confirms His will for us in a variety of ways.

How Does God Speak To Us?

A. Through other people

1. Directly - someone speaks the prompting to us

2. Indirectly

a. a homily at Mass

b. radio

c. television

d. something we read

B. Scripture

C. Events of the day

4. Has the prompting withstood the test of time? There is a difference between enthusiasm and zeal.

5. Am I going through an emotionally difficult time or am I suffering from mental instability?

6. Have I sought the counsel of others -- my spouse, provincial, superior, bishop, spiritual director?

7. Is the prompting or inspiration of grace in conformity with my state in life? There may be sacrifice, but there will not be conflict.

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