Spiritual Direction is a unique service, which is a vital part of one's spiritual formation. The focus is not on projects, activities and numbers of students. Rather, Spiritual Direction is about presence and availability to students. The emphasis is on one-to-one contact. For each student affected positively through Spiritual Direction, several others are usually impacted by that student’s attitude and spirituality. Direction impacts a person’s sense of purpose, meaning in life, faith and trust stance, and self-esteem. This ministry of compassionate presence, through deep non-judgmental listening, provides the recipient with a sense of personal affirmation and dignity, acceptance in one’s diversity, challenge to growth, and encouragement in faith. We welcome students of all faiths. By honoring the dignity and uniqueness of each person and the sacredness of each one’s journey, we invite students into healthy living, into wholeness and holiness, into being their best selves. In this way, Loyola Marymount can help to shape individuals with character and compassion who serve and lead our complex world.
What happens in a Spiritual Direction session?
Often the session will begin with a few minutes of prayer or silence. Generally, the director listens in an open, prayerful environment to the directee’s sharing about what is going on in his/her life. The time together fosters awareness of anything that is occurring in the person’s life which has helped or hindered his/her relationship wit God. The director acts as a supportive companion who allows the seeker/directee to look honestly at his/her relationship with God as it is live out in everyday life and relationships. The emphasis is on affirmation of God’s mysterious presence in our ordinary lives. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is what is most deeply sought in each session. Sessions are generally fifty minutes long and occur in varying frequency.
What is the difference between Spiritual Direction and Counseling?
Counseling is often concerned with social adjustment and therapeutic management of life’s problems, whereas Spiritual Direction focuses on the person’s deepening relationship with the Sacred. Spiritual Direction assumes both a faith perspective and a fundamental desire for prayer and intimacy with God. Since they each have a different focus, some people choose to participate in both forms of guidance, but usually in separate contexts.
The director helps the student by providing a loving and open environment, by being a listener and companion, and by giving support and feedback. Students are helped to clarify, articulate and affirm their spiritual experience as revealed through the situations and events in their lives. Spiritual Direction encourages individuals to make life decisions in response to their growing awareness of God’s presence in their lives. By being available on campus and present at various activities and liturgies, the Spiritual Director contacts students who are searching for a more conscious relationship with God. Some one-on-one meetings are scheduled regularly, while others happen spontaneously. The act of slowing down enough, to allow contemplative listening to one another, helps us to recognize God in all persons and circumstances of our lives. Quality of presence can often have greater impact than quantity, but it requires reflection, openness, time availability, understanding and support.
Most of our Campus Ministers are also available as Spiritual Directors for a limited number of students, as are some of our Resident Ministers. Some of the religious and clergy on campus (and in the neighborhood) are also available when needed or requested.
If you are a student interested in spiritual direction, please contact Sr. Joanna Carroll, CSJ at (310) 338-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.