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Finding Our Way to God

Praying in truth has to do with opening our hearts and revealing ourselves to God as we really are. It means having the courage to look inside ourselves and confront the various masks and self-deceptions we find. It means being willing to risk baring our souls to God so God might bare his soul to us. Intimacy with the divine first requires intimacy with self. We can’t communicate with God in truth if we’re unwilling to know the truth about ourselves.

Coming to an intimate knowledge of ourselves is no easy task. Most of us can’t go it alone and are in dire need of help. We find facing our inner wants and insecurities much too threatening. Left to our own resources, many of us would end up rationalizing away our fears and discounting our deepest hopes about who we are and want to become. Spiritual direction seeks to remedy this. It provides the help we need to confront ourselves and open our hearts to God. It does so by gently helping us recognize and then listen to the voice of the Spirit manifested in the nitty-gritty circumstances of our lives. More often than not, that voice is found in the small whispering sound that can only be heard in the solitude of our hearts.

Spiritual direction seeks to settle our hearts so we can rest in this solitude and become ourselves in our faith. As a helping relationship between two people, it focuses on both conscious and unconscious interactions with the divine. It helps us to sift through the conflicting, often troublesome personal narratives vying for our attention so we can make responsible judgments about where we have come from and where we’re being called. It pays special heed to our life of prayer, helping us to discern the true self from the false and authentic prayer from its paltry imitation.

The ultimate goal of spiritual direction is to help us pray in truth. To pray in truth is to pray in the Spirit, the re-creative presence of God that hovers over and revives the primal forces within us. We know we’re praying in the Spirit when our lives manifest its various gifts and fruits (see Isaiah 11:2–3 and Galatians 5:22–23). Spiritual direction helps us to identify these spiritual riches and allow them to do their quiet work within us. That work concerns an ongoing, gradual process of divinization that draws us into a deeper participation in the eternal celebration of love within the Godhead.

Source: Excerpted from Finding Our Way to God: Spiritual Direction in the Moral Life by Dennis Billy, CSsR (product code 828034).
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Published inReflections