We went to see Prince Caspian the other day. What a fantastic rendition of the book. I have to admit, the actors that get cast in the roles of my favorite characters are rarely as I imagined them, but when the movie is well made, that little distraction passes, and I end up captivated. I read a review on the movie later which delved deeply into the spiritual issues that C.S. Lewis was dealing with in this book, namely pride. Although much of the reviewer’s analysis escaped me, I did grasp certain points of the movie. Namely, that when I try to “do it myself” I frequently fail, sometimes miserably. If we could do Spiritual Direction ourselves, we wouldn’t need the Ten Commandments, the Gospels, religious leaders, retreats, pilgrimage or the Church. Like Peter, carrying out an attack on King Miraz’ fortress himself, rather than seeking out Aslan and his advice and direction first, I bumble through one misadventure after another, leaving behind a trail of destruction and tears. Without a spiritual guide, it is difficult at times to resist the glamour of evil, as when the White Witch offers power and prestige in exchange for one drop of Peter or Caspian’s blood. Edmund, who remembers his humiliation at the hands of the White Witch and Aslan’s subsequent mercy and sacrifice, shatters the illusion and saves Narnia from that possible disaster.
Spiritual Direction requires submission. I am a proud, vain person. I like the feeling of being recognized for something “I’ve done myself”. But in truth, anything I’ve ever done well, I’ve had lots of help with. In music, I’ve had years of lessons, encouragement, criticism, and investment by my parents. In running my businesses there has been a network of people, offering advice, experience and assisstance. So in my spiritual life, why is it so hard to figure out who to turn to? Submission requires trust. Our parish priest is busy, yes, with all the administrative details of running a “business”. But when approached with spiritual questions and issues, his demeanor changes. He takes on a new enthusiasm, and answers with care and compassion. This is his real vocation. Our local bishop is laden with responsibility in running a large diocese which has been deeply hurt by scandal and in which immigration is a very present issue. Yet when he offers Mass, and preaches on Jesus word and how very applicable it is in our lives right this minute, you feel his holiness, his closeness to Jesus, his sincerity and devotion to us, his people. He is approachable, and very easy to converse with.
Spiritual Direction is not a do-it-yourself project. I have to ask for help, trust in the helper, and do what is suggested. How do I know if it’s working? I have to look at my relationships. Am I at peace, or fighting everyone and everything? Am I at peace in my living situation? Am I at peace with my work? Am I in constant communication with my Lord? These are my goals in seeking Spiritual Direction.