I’m Single & Catholic, Do I Need A Spiritual Director?


Why have a spiritual director? Advice for Christian singles

My junior year of college I broke up with my boyfriend to discern a religious vocation.

I remember the chaplain at school counseled me to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) so I would have no doubts in the future about whether God was calling me to the religious life. During my discernment process, I visited cloistered and active orders, one of which was the Sisters of Life in New York.

I visited the Sisters of Life for a weekend and was able to have an interview with the vocations director. At the end of the weekend I spoke with the Mother Superior about what God was calling me to do. After a peaceful and prayerful weekend, I discerned that God was not calling me to the religious life at that time.

The Mother Superior and the vocations director advised me to see a spiritual director regularly. I was so touched that — even though I wasn’t called to be a Sister of Life — these two women cared so deeply for my soul. They pulled out a map to find a priest who lived near me and even called him to set up the first appointment.

I was called to live out my single vocation and a spiritual director would help me to navigate those waters.

[Meet Meris, a former CatholicMatch member is becoming a Dominican Sister of Mary]

The reason I share this story is because recently a fellow CatholicMatch member asked a question in the com-box of one of my posts: “I thought the use of a spiritual director was to discern a religious vocation?”

A spiritual director is not only important for those who are discerning a religious vocation, but also for those who are married or single. Pope Benedict XVI states, “Anyone who wants to live their baptism responsibly should have a spiritual director.”

The goal of spiritual direction is to help discern what God is calling you to do. Not everyone is called in the same way.

I learned this simple message during my visit to the cloistered convent. In my mind, I thought that cloistered sisters contemplating our Lord in the silence for many hours of the day was the best vocation to have. I wanted to be called to that life, but when I visited the convent I knew without a doubt that God was not calling me there.

I was so mad at God. “Why aren’t you calling me to the highest vocation?” I shared my thoughts with the Mother Superior and she so delicately responded. “Contemplative life isn’t the highest vocation. The highest vocation is the one that God is calling you to.” 

As I sat in the chair, it felt like the Holy Spirit hit me over the head. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Of course! Not everyone can be called to the contemplative life. God needs teachers, mothers, priests, doctors, fathers and candlestick makers. God has a unique path just for you and your spiritual director helps you to find that path.

Not everyone has the luxury of a Mother Superior to help you find a spiritual director, but there are many helpful resources online.

Check out the links on this page and begin by praying to know God’s will for you.






6 Comments

  1. Stephen-725391 August 13, 2012 Reply

    Not a bad idea, save for one little thing, in an over-worked understaffed clergy, where is one to find a spiritual director (would assume it would be a priest) that would have the time for one-on-one direction and one that is personally compatible (some people just don’t click).

  2. Andrea-850967 August 13, 2012 Reply

    Ask people you trust, if they know of a priest who gives spiritual direction. You are right though when you say that it must “click” between you and the future spiritual director. It might take a little time to find the right one for you, but it is worth to take the effort looking for one.
    I can imagine that any priest will be rather delighted to give spiritual direction, instead of doing an administration job in their own parish, which happens more than often …
    Besides also lay people could give spiritual direction whereas I prefer it with a priest.
    Thank you Robyn for posting this and the link for recources.

  3. David-364112 August 21, 2012 Reply

    Thanks Robyn! Anyone who’s serious about growing the the faith could benefit from the advice of a GOOD spiritual director. A BAD director is a nightmare.

    The person need not be a priest but must be selected carefully. I know several men who went to a Catholic nun here in Cleveland for direction until she retired a few years before her 90th birthday. I had a lay director through Opus Dei for many years and he helped immeasurably with my doctrinal and devotional formation.

    What differentiates a good director from a bad one? A good director will never attempt to manipulate you for force his/her will on you. A good director is interested in your well-being but is not a busy body or a gossip. A good director has had a solid formation and should have his or her own director.

  4. William-872148 August 23, 2012 Reply

    SOMETIMES PARRISH PRIEST TOO BUSY/ WONDER WHO TO TURN TO.

  5. Michele-978184 June 14, 2013 Reply

    BLESS SINGLES life is tough–

    Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1658 “We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.'”

    GOOD NEWS! We can enter into contemplative prayer even before or without entering a cloister:

    “CCC 2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we “gather up:” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

    2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

    2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness.”

    2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit “that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith” and we may be “grounded in love.”10

    2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him.11

    2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.”

  6. Michele-978184 June 14, 2013 Reply

    further Biblical study of contemplative prayer (from footnotes of above CCC quotes):

    8 Cf. Lk 7:36-50; 19:1-10.
    9 Cf. Jer 31:33.
    10 Eph 3:16-17.

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