Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Need for Spiritual Direction

The numbers of those without a healthy religion are considerable, begins the article on a  priest psycho-spiritual counselor. The Catholic Times journalist who interviewed the priest-professor had some interesting points to make, especially when she asks:  What is my own spirituality health index?

The psycho-spiritual counselor, in addition to teaching at the Catholic Center for Psycho-Spiritual Counseling, and being a pastor and a seminary professor, teaches a three-week  course on becoming a Christian dealing with the psychology of the spiritual life. The program has been very well received by parishioners. The following questions: What is a healthy spiritual life? And what is the relationship of  mental health and our faith life? form the heart of the program. The journey from anger to gratitude is also dealt with in detail during the program.

The journalist, who meets many Catholics while engaged in her work, knows that many have an emptiness in their spiritual life.  Even those  who are known to be outstanding Catholics jokingly say they are half-hearted believers. There does not seem to be an interest in nurturing a healthy spirituality. However, probably different from most people of the West, Koreans do not pride themselves in  being independent of the community to which they belong. Individualism has still not become a mark of the Korean believer. They do not consider being 'a la carte' Christians as a good thing, even though they may be such.

The relation they have with God and the way they  look at this relationship is often distorted, says the journalist. Consequently, she says they are not able to fill the  emptiness in their hearts. The first step of the counselor, she says, is to have the troubled person discover the obstacles that are preventing spiritual growth. One can see that religion is often an obstacle that  prevents one from being happy. An example would be the person that is not doing what is necessary in the home but is faithful in going to Church. And there are those Catholics who carry their anger inside, only to have it manifest when certain circumstances arise.

The  Church, says the priest, has a long  tradition of healing both body and soul, but many Christians are lost, and try to find healing in pseudo and newly-formulated religions. It is the hope of the psycho-spiritual counselor that they will be able to help those who seek consolation in this way to discover the root problems they are dealing with.

Each of us has certain habits or failings that need to be changed by this type of counseling. He recommends a network to make this a possibility. One of the problems that must be addressed, he said, is that pastoral workers often disapprove of these efforts. Counseling should be a way of life, and getting help in ridding oneself of obstacles to maturity should be welcomed. It doesn't mean getting rid of all the darkness but such counseling can help be the first step in finding a small light in the darkness.