Spiritual Direction. A friend and I were discussing religious life the other day. Sometimes she thinks about entering a monastery to become a contemplative nun. I encouraged her desire (against my own selfish wish to keep her here as my friend) to take several weeks or months at a Benedictine monastery where she is an oblate to discern this vocation. After arguing with God about why He would give me such a gift in friendship and then take it away, I realized that in this particular case, knowing my friend’s devotion to her elderly uncle, her daughter and her grandson, she was probably just experiencing a need for some Spiritual Direction. In days past this was achieved by frequent confession with one’s parish priest. Now, with fewer priests, and the ones we have being pulled in so many directions, it is sometimes a challenge to even have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confession.
This has also been a theme in my life today. Unlike my friend, I do not have quite as much freedom or finance to travel to the nearest monastery for a few days of personal retreat and guidance from the holy people there. I try to get to confession frequently, which right now is every few months. I try to absorb the message of the homily during Mass. Here in our rural community, we have Mass on Sundays and Thursdays. Our pastor lives 20 miles away and serves 3 churches and helps with a fourth over an 80 mile radius. We have no deacon or assistant pastor at this time. Where to turn for more frequent direction?
Some days it’s as simple as reading a few verses from the Gospel of Matthew over breakfast with my son. We read from the parts where Jesus is speaking. Only a few lines, as just keeping a 5 year old’s attention to bless the food is a challenge. The words will stay with me for at least a few minutes, and I can contemplate them in between planning the day’s work, chasing the dog off the porch where we’re enjoying the early morning sun with our meal, and calling the child back from fighting off Captain Hook in Neverland to finish his oatmeal. And sometimes it’s just enough to bless the rest of my day.