The charim of spiritual direction and the laity.
“The accompaniment of men and women religious can be a problem,” acknowledged the Pope. “In my former diocese, I always said to the nuns who came to ask for advice, ‘Tell me, in your community or your congregation, is there not a wise sister, one who lives the charism well, a good sister with experience, who might be your spiritual guide?’. ‘But she is a woman! But it is a charism of the laity’. Yes, spiritual direction is not the exclusive charism of presbyters: it is a charism of the laity. In primitive monasticism the laity were the great directors. … The spiritual director is one thing, the confessor is another. I tell the confessor my sins … but I tell the spiritual director what is happening in my heart. … Superiors have the responsibility of finding those in the community, in the congregation, and in the province, who have this charism, of giving them this mission and of forming them and helping them in this. … I think that in this respect, however, we are still immature.”
So many people are looking for a spiritual director. The vast majority of people I come across think that only a priest can be a spiritual director. One saint said, “He who has himself for a spiritual director has an ass for a spiritual director.” In every field in life in order to advance we need a mentor. Every serious athlete need a coach to get to the next level of excellence. The same is true in the spiritual life also. It is common that the great saints knew each other. They helped each other to grow in holiness.
Pope Francis is reminding us that in primitive monasticism the laity were the great director. Pope Francis reminds us, ” Yes, spiritual direction is not the exclusive charism of presbyters: it is a charism of the laity.”