A young mother stops by for an hour every couple of weeks to get her bearings by meeting with a friar. She then spends a few moments alone in the chapel.
A man, out of a job for several months, just wants someone to listen for a few minutes as he vents his frustrations, and then receive a few words of encouragement.
In each of these cases, and many hundreds of others, Conventual Franciscan Friars have engaged in what is called spiritual direction. This is not psychological counseling, although some Friars may have training in that area.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, when he is starving and envying even the food of the pigs, Jesus says the son “came to his senses.” Sometimes it’s translated as “he came to himself.” Spiritual direction is a process of leading people to the real center of their lives, the core of their being where the Holy Spirit dwells.
Whether in formal retreat settings, or ongoing direction with a person, or when someone just needs to talk, the Friars place a priority on helping people find the Spirit, which is really the deep, unending love of God in their lives.
But most of all, they follow the example of St. Francis in leading people to Jesus. It is in the Word of God made flesh, in Jesus Himself, that people can find solace, peace, and love. St. Francis and the first Franciscans committed themselves to “Gospel living,” by first reading and studying the Gospels, then meditating on them, and finally attempting to put them into practice through their every action.
This continues with Friars today. This focus on the Gospel seeps into their lives as Franciscans, helping them lead others toward God. And spiritual direction is so important that each of the Friars seeks it for himself.
The road is not easy for any of us. But the Friars understand that each of you has specific challenges in your life, that there are hurdles and pitfalls on your path. While our problems may be different, we believe the answers can be found in one place: the overpowering love of God, shown explicitly by Jesus throughout his time on earth, and especially on the Cross. That love can overwhelm our cares and problems, if we open ourselves to it in prayer.
The Friars are eager to help you find that love in your life.
Please join us at one of our retreat centers or parish programs. You can take part in a formal retreat, or seek one of the Friars out for a talk or direction. Additionally, you can share in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, one of the great privileges of service our Friar-Priests can offer.