The spiritual directors community is mourning the passing of Sister Mary Ann Scofield, RSM, who was a founding member of Spiritual Directors International and served as the organization’s first executive coordinator. She was a tremendous believer in the value of spiritual direction in companioning individuals to greater spiritual awareness and strength. “I do believe there is a unique image of the Divine that is placed in each of us,” she said, “and all the activity of the Divine in us is to bring us to that true self.”
Spiritual direction has been a recognized spiritual practice for many centuries but has become more common among lay persons in recent decades. These days virtually every spiritual tradition has members who obtain training and make themselves available to companion others in their spiritual journeys.
Formal definitions abound to try to capture succinctly just what spiritual direction is. One definition I relate to is in Tilden Edwards’ Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion: Guide to Tending the Soul. He writes: “The ministry of spiritual direction can be understood as the meeting of two or more people whose desire is to prayerfully listen for the movements of the Holy Spirit in all areas of a person’s life (not just in their formal prayer life). It is a three-way relationship: among the true director who is the Holy Spirit (which in Christian tradition is the Spirit of Christ present in and among us), and the human director (who listens for the directions of the Spirit with the directee), and the directee.”
For anyone who wants to look into this kind of spiritual companioning, locating a suitable spiritual director is much easier than it used to be. Spiritual Directors International offers an annual Seek and Find Guide – both a print version and an interactive online version – listing directors in all parts of the world. The Guide is part of the wonderful legacy of Sister Mary Ann Scofield.