March 18, 2016

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Teresa Venatta

Spiritual direction: an aid in worship and evangelization

Pope Francis, in “The Joy of the Gospel,” speaks of the joy and peace that a true encounter with Christ can provide. But in a world of busyness and distractions, how can we find ways to facilitate and encourage this encounter? One expanding ministry that offers support for our individual spiritual journeys is that of spiritual direction.

Spiritual direction is a ministry of “holy listening,” presence and attentiveness. It is a one-on-one confidential relationship between an individual—a directee seeking a deeper awareness of God’s presence in their life— and a trained spiritual director.

The true “director” in this relationship is always the Holy Spirit. The spiritual director’s role is to prayerfully put themselves aside, so total attention can be given to the directee’s journey and how they respond to God’s call in their life. It is always about meeting the directee where they are in their quest.

When the Holy Spirit is invoked in conjunction with the loving companionship of a spiritual director, a sacred space is created that allows the directee to reflect, grow, discern, notice, and respond to God in their life—ultimately to grow in the image of Christ.

In light of this growing ministry, the archdiocese is supporting spiritual direction within the Secretariat of Worship and Evangelization. Under the leadership of Father Patrick Beidelman, a Catholic spiritual directors’ network has been formed. Quarterly meetings of archdiocesan spiritual directors allow for opportunities in continuing education on spiritual topics and for interaction and fellowship. The most recent meeting in February highlighted the topic of “12-Step Spirituality,” which provided insight on companioning with others in helping to accept life on life’s terms.

A new archdiocesan position of discernment companion has also been created to prayerfully connect those seeking spiritual direction with a trained director on the Catholic registry. This allows for a confidential matching of those seeking spiritual direction with three directors on the archdiocesan registry. The seeker is then encouraged to speak with the three referrals in order to prayerfully discern a spiritual director. This has proven to be a successful way to match director and directee in an individual and personal way.

An Hispanic Spiritual Direction Formation Program is also currently training Spanish-speaking spiritual directors. The goal is to form one unified network of spiritual directors to meet the increasing archdiocesan need as this ministry is promoted and encouraged within our parishes.

So, in this world of busyness, one way we make our very lives a form of worship and evangelization is by participating in the offering of spiritual direction. This spiritual companionship can be a catalyst and encourager toward a deeper encounter with God.

Our personal relationship with God and our very struggles are given a voice that is honored in the sacred space of the spiritual direction relationship. This ministry fits within our Christian duty as referenced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2105) to respect and awaken in each other the love of the true and the good.

Spiritual direction’s very nature flows from and at the same time enriches religious experience. Worship becomes more authentic and intimate. As a result, our lives become more of a witness to the joy of the Gospel, and evangelization becomes more organic.

(Teresa Venatta is a discernment companion and spiritual director in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. She can be reached at

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