Spiritual Direction at SJE
As the Diocese of Oxford explains, Spiritual Direction "is an ancient ministry, sometimes called spiritual counsel, prayer guidance or soul friendship. It is about taking time to meet with someone and talk together about your spiritual journey, prayer and search for God. Many people find that this pattern of reflective companionship can be a significant help." At SJE, one of our parishioners, Tom Armstrong, keeps an office and offers spiritual direction to parishioners or anyone who is searching for a deeper connection to God in their life and would appreciate guidance.
Tom is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at Loyola University of Chicago with a concentration in spirituality and has a particular interest in Ignatian spirituality. As Tom explains, "Loyola is a Jesuit university and I have had the wonderful experience of completing the Ignation Spiritual Exercises with a Jesuit priest as my director. The Exercises are a collection of meditations, prayers, and guidelines, written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, that deepen your relationship with Christ and encourage growth in your spiritual life. With this growth, comes a deeper sense of your unique gifts and discernment of the best use of those gifts in your journey to serve the Lord."
To get in touch with Tom and find our more, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also some FAQ about spiritual direction below that can answer questions you might have.
Father Cramer also does offer spiritual direction from time-to-time, but being a parish priest precludes him from seeing many people for this more intensive regular time. That's one of the reasons our parish invited Tom to this ministry among us. However, those interested in direction through Father Cramer may always contact him at email@example.com.
FAQ about Spiritual Direction
What might I talk about? The important thing is that this is a ‘sacred space’ into which we can bring anything but do not have to bring anything. There are no expectations or judgement. It is a listening and accepting space. Sometimes you might have a sense of something happening in your life and needing to make sense of it in a spiritual context: ‘Where is God in this for me?’ Sometimes you might have a particular spiritual issue you want to work through. Sometimes it is as simple as: ‘How can I pray?’ Sometimes it is an individual’s awareness of God inviting them to ‘something more’, and needing help to work out what that is really all about. So the answer to the question is: ‘Anything that impacts on your relationship with God.’
How do I know if a Spiritual Director is a good fit? A good spiritual director is not your own personal great decider. Look for someone who doesn't impose, but can guide so you can make a decision. The spiritual director's role is not to dictate what should be done, but to help you discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to hear God's voice. Compatibility or incompatibility can show up at various levels. At the surface, a spiritual director’s availability and meeting options (in-person or online) may or may not work for you. In some instances, you may also have a strong desire to meet with a director of the same gender, minority background, etc. Or you may find tension or resonance with the theological tradition they practice.
How often would we meet? It can vary from every few weeks to twice a year, with the length of the meeting time varying according to the needs of the directee. However a very common pattern is to meet about once every six weeks for an hour or so.
How long does spiritual direction last? You can meet with a spiritual director once or through a season of discernment or transition, but many people continue with their spiritual director indefinitely. It doesn’t have to have an endpoint. In most cases, it’s wise to try committing to a spiritual director for six months once you decide to begin. Remembering this choice can help you stick through any dry or difficult times.
How is this different than counseling or coaching? Counseling or therapy tends to be solution-focused. You might identify something that needs to be addressed, your counselor identifies a course to take and you work toward that goal with a trained and licensed mental health professional. Similarly, coaching typically identifies where you want to go, where you are and how to get there, often in your professional life. Spiritual direction centers on where you are and how God is there. This doesn’t always lead us forward. Sometimes it’s about how to be more present to what God is already doing, and sometimes it’s about responding to God’s invitation to go deeper into relationship.
Is there a suggested fee or honorarium? As he is growing and starting, Tom is not seeking a financial contribution from members at St. Johns at this time. That said (and for those not a part of SJE), Spiritual Direction seeks to serve persons of all economic situations. Because spiritual guides and companions make their living from this work, an honorarium is customary. A standard offering for an hour of spiritual direction is around $50-$100. What might work for you is something to discuss with a spiritual director at your first meeting to ensure everything is on the table and up front. SJE does not employ or pay Tom for his work as a spiritual director, and any honoraria for Tom should be paid to him directly and not to the parish.