I am honored and humbled that the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, through which I did my Spiritual Director formation, invited me to write an article in their Spring 2019 Newsletter.
The Director of the Center, Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV, wrote the following in his column about the purpose of my article, “Beginning with this issue our newsletter will shine a light on our Lanteri Center graduates and the fine work they are doing in spiritual direction ministry.”
They asked me to share a little about the following: why I chose to attend their formation program; what I have been doing since; how I have seen God work in my own life or my directees; how the formation and ministry has helped my own faith and spiritual journey; and how I see spiritual direction, Ignatian Spirituality, and my own ministry contributing to the renewal of the Church.
For those interested, I have copied the text of my article here below. Also, for those interested, you can find out more about their formation program online here. As you can see from my article, I highly recommend the Lanteri Center and thank God for the many ways it has formed my life, ministry, and work in spiritual direction.
Spring 2019 Lanteri Center Reservoir Newsletter Article:
In truth, I applied to the Lanteri Center’s formation program with little sense of calling, but with a great desire to learn. Little did I know that when I hopped on the plane in 2013 to attend the summer intensive program, that I would begin what has been a wildly adventurous, highly challenging, and personally transforming journey into the ministry of spiritual direction. The Lanteri Center’s formation program and staff have both been absolutely invaluable and inestimable graces in my life. They have shaped my daily life, my work, and my openness to serve the Lord.
To begin, I was led to the program out of a desire to augment the current work I was doing in ministry (at the Archdiocese of Boston in marriage ministries and with young adults). I was looking for a better understanding of how to informally accompany others in their spiritual journey, especially in regard to discernment. I had little desire nor expectation, however, that I would ever formally serve as a spiritual director (little did I know where God would lead).
After the first summer intensive, my husband and I both participated in a group 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. We took it seriously and realized God was calling us to leave Boston (our home together for nearly 20 years, and his since birth) to move to Miami for his work (at the Archdiocese of Miami). We moved and I took some time off to discern where the Lord was leading me. I did the Spiritual Exercises yet again (for a third time) with a staff member from the Lanteri Center (via Skype). This was another amazing gift from the Lanteri Center that helped me tremendously—personally and professionally.
Personally, I was able to finally see and understand some of the areas in which I needed to grow and trust. I struggle a great deal with perfectionism and I fear doing things wrong. I thought my feelings and fears were based in humility, but I realized, through the Exercises, that it was really pride—my eyes were on me and what I felt I could do and could not do. My eyes were not on God. I realized, like the “wicked, lazy servant” in the Parable of the Talents, that, “out of fear” I was not using the gifts and graces God had given me (Cf. Mt. 25). With this realization, my motto turned from: “I can’t do it” to: “I’ll do my best and let God do the rest.” With this new perspective, I finally felt free to move, to act, and to serve with trust that God is bigger than any mistakes I may make. My perfectionism is still a daily struggle for me, but I know the answer is to keep my eyes on the Lord.
Professionally, the Exercises, namely this new found freedom and trust, gave me the courage to begin (with a few other couples) Annunciation Ministries (which seeks to strengthen the vocation of marriage by providing married couples, parishes, and dioceses resources, consultation, and training). I often say we are trying to “strengthen the strong arm.” That is, we are trying to strengthen the marriage and faith of faith-filled married couples so they in turn can strengthen others. I envision it as a rock dropped in a still pool of water. The more we can strengthen the interior lives and marriage bond of the couples we work with, the greater the ripple effect will be. To this end, we offer trainings, programs, and resources for parishes and dioceses as well as retreats, formation weekends, and on-going enrichment groups for married couples. All of this work is significantly informed and enriched by what I learned through the Lanteri Center’s formation program.
This is my primary work; however, I have also had the completely surprising privilege to serve formally as a spiritual director on a number of retreats (3, 5, and 7-day retreats and even the 30-day retreat). When I received my first invitation to serve on a retreat, I reconnected with the Lanteri Center staff for their thoughts and guidance. With their continued support and supervision, I have grown tremendously and now, very surprisingly, I find myself excited about doing spiritual direction formally, particularly in a retreat setting.
I am sure you will agree with me that the world today is desperate for love, peace, and joy. I am convinced that the more we can help others to keep their eyes on the Lord, the more they will experience these things. This has worked for me, for others I know, and for those I have had the privilege to serve and accompany. This is, ultimately, what Ignatian Spirituality and the ministry of spiritual direction seeks to do: to help others keep their eyes on the Lord so that He can transform them in His love and give them peace and joy despite challenges and suffering. Praise God for His gratuitous love and for the ministry of spiritual direction that helps us get in touch with, and live out of, the core of our being where the gift of God, the Spirit, dwells and transforms, through Jesus Christ.
No doubt that prayer, transformation in Christ, and interior freedom is at the heart of the renewal of the Church. And, no doubt that the work of the Lanteri Center is lockstep in tune with the heartbeat of the Father, the message and gift of the Son, and the promptings of the Spirit.
Everywhere I travel, I see a need for more spiritual directors. If you feel a tug toward the Lanteri Center’s formation program and perhaps, like me, feel woefully inadequate but interested nonetheless, perhaps now is the time, as Helen Lemmel’s hymn exhorts, to “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face” and, like St. Peter, take a step out onto the water. Who knows where the Lord will lead you in His kindness and love, but for sure it will be a step closer to Him. What do you have to lose? There is so much to gain (for yourself, for others, and ultimately, for God’s greater glory).
Thank you, Lanteri Center, for the formation you have given me, and through me, to others. All praise and glory be to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Please pray for me. I’m praying for you.Tags: Spiritual Direction