Pastor’s Column: Years ago, as a young priest still in his twenties I was asked by a young husband and father if I would be his spiritual director. This meant meeting with him one on one once a month to help him grow his prayer life, so that he could grow in closeness to the Lord. I hesitated having received little training and because I knew my own fears and weaknesses. I was always a talker and struggled to listen well, this would require a lot of time and patience and I was already lacking in both. Later as more people (men and women, old and young) came to ask me to be their director I saw how God used this call to stretch me in areas where I too needed to grow, and he continues this in all the many ministries he has called me too.
Some years ago, at the height of my spiritual directing, Fr. Mark Ivany came to me and said we needed to recruit more laity to be directors. After all, most priests have not been trained and lack the time to direct. I was against it at first believing only priests were called to this particular ministry. Then I went on a silent eight-day retreat (I highly recommend silent retreats to all of you) and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the requests for spiritual direction coming to me.
The Lord had me meditate on a passage of scripture in the Old Testament where Moses was feeling overwhelmed and his father in law Jethro came to him and said, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. “. He then instructed him to recruit people who could help him. The Lord made clear that is what he wanted me to do. He then started to show me people he wanted to use in this ministry who He had already placed in my life. It was beautiful and I was given Peace and Joy! The two signs of the working of the Holy Spirit.
This week Fr. Ivany will run a program to train lay and clergy spiritual directors. He already did one in DC. He was hoping for 15 or so people and got about 50. The same program is now going to take place this week at St. Mary’s Ryken and the numbers are near 50 again. Pray for those who are generously taking three days out of their schedule to train and who will help share this beautiful transforming ministry with us priests and deacons in the coming years. The Harvest is indeed abundant, and the laborers are few. Pray that God sends us more!
Your brother and father in Christ,