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Approach seemed "backwards"
on November 4, 2000
Though the knowledge and experience which the authors possess is clear, my impression was that, rather than taking classic concepts of spiritual direction and incorporating the insights of modern psychology, they were accepting the latter as truth and adapting the former to fit them.
Certainly, the sort of distance and authoritarian stance of previous centuries, which the authors rightly see as passe (though it worked in its time), requires much adaptation to be effective today. Yet, in recent decades, the essence, comprising the accumulated wisdom of many centuries, too often has been sacrificed because how to apply the accidental is unclear. The authors make some areas rather murky and puzzling. For example, one case cited is that of a religious Sister who is spiritual director to a married woman who believes her life and prayer have improved in the course of a current adulterous relationship. The authors believe the director should keep silent, because to do otherwise would be following an agenda of defending marriage rather than being open to the other woman's needs - and rely on her having other sources of information, or a personal intuition, that may influence her assessment of her situation. This is quite contrary to any classic view, since one of a director's ministries always has been to assist the other in a truly honest view, unhampered by self-deception - and adultery, a clearly immoral action in Christian teaching which a director would have an obligation to correct, has never been viewed as helpful in the spiritual life.
My impression was that, in encouraging those in this ministry to embrace current trends in psychology and the like, many of the key parts of the ministry (however unpleasant they may be at times) were neglected.