Dear Father Angelo,
I read with interest your answers regarding the spiritual director. Before getting to know each other and getting married, my wife and I individually experienced the benefit of having a regular confessor. After our marriage (8 years ago), due to the supervened distance, we could no longer turn to the regular confessor. The sacrament of marriage lived with commitment and awareness and the service in the parish community make us grow every day in our being spouses and family in Christ. That said, we both feel the need for a shared spiritual guide and here is the question: is it enough to look for a confessor in common and then have an individual relationship or could it be useful to schedule some encounters (1-2 a year) outside of confession to discuss together? I thank you from my heart and I assure you of my prayer, today in a special way since the 16th of July is Our Lady of Carmel.
Answer of the priest
1. if confession is made on a regular and frequent basis and always with the same priest, it is already a form of spiritual direction.
In itself it would not be necessary to have personal meetings outside the celebration of the sacrament.
But, especially in this field, a lot depends on the people and also on the priest.
2. Some people have a lot to ask and prefer to have an encounter outside of confession.
In these cases, a separate meeting may also be useful, especially with newly converted.
In this field, there is no identical rule for everyone: there are different paths that may be followed, according to one’s inclinations and needs.
3. It is not even necessary to tell the confessor that he is chosen as a director or spiritual father.
In fact, he becomes so by always going to confession to him.
Regular and frequent confession in which one’s sins are accused becomes the most appropriate occasion to talk to him about one’s prayer life, about certain particular spiritual experiences, about some problems that arise in relationships with others, about ecclesial problems, etc. …
Then the priest becomes the guide, the counselor, the “spiritual father”.
4. This was the experience of St. Giovanni Bosco when he was a boy. He treasured it all his life, becoming the father of the soul of many young people. It was not necessary for the kids to tell him: “I take you as my spiritual director”.
Here is what he says: “Since I started going to Don Calosso, I have fully trusted him. I told him what I was doing, what I said, I even confided to him my thoughts. So he was able to give me the right advice.
For the first time I felt the certainty of having a guide, a friend of the soul. In the first place he forbade me a penance that I did, not suitable for my age. Instead, he encouraged me to go to confession and Communion frequently. He also taught me to do a little meditation, or rather a spiritual reading, every day.
On feast days I spent with him all my free time. On weekdays I served him Holy Mass whenever I could. At that time, I began to experience the joy of having a spiritual life. Until then I had lived very materially, almost like a machine that does something but does not know why” (Memories, LDC Leumann Torino 1987, pp. 25-26).
5. Adults will no longer be able to be with the priest as they did when they went to the oratory.
But when the confessor becomes the father of their soul, if there is a distressing problem, if there is some decision to be made, if one wants to know God’s will in certain situations, he is the first reference point.
And one understands, experiencing it first-hand, how the Lord uses them to illuminate his own steps, just as he did with Saint Faustina Kowalska, who one day noted in her diary: “Today during Benediction, I saw Jesus, Who said these words to me, «Be obedient to your spiritual director in all things; what he says is My will. Be sure in the depths of your soul that I speak through his mouth, and I want you to open up your soul to him as simply and as sincerely as you do to Me. Once again I say to you, My daughter, know that his word is My will for you.»” (Diary, February 24, 1937, n. 979).
6. My advice is to go to the confessor who is closest to you and who inspires you with confidence.
Then normally you will both go to him.
In this way regular and frequent confession will become an authentic spiritual direction without you noticing it.
I thank you for particularly remembering me in your prayers on the day of Our Lady of Carmel.
I reciprocate today, the vigil of the solemnity of the Holy Father Dominic, whose family you belong both through the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary and the Angelic Warfare of St. Thomas.
I bless you and I wish you well.
Translated by Chiara P.