Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God
by Daniel Burke (2012) with Fr. John Bartunek, LC, STL
This book has the same basic objective as Fr. Thomas Dubay’s Seeking Spiritual Direction, but it’s much shorter and addresses some topics not covered by Dubay, such as whether you should pay for spiritual direction.
It also advises the reader about preparing for sessions with your director. There is a questionnaire designed to help you identify your “root sin”, which is primarily what holds you back from progress. Finally, there is also a section on how to develop what is called a Plan of Life, which is not altogether different than how the monastic orders structure their day between prayer and work, and which anyone can benefit from.
NOTE: Dan Burke and Fr. Bartunek started and continue to lead a blog with several other contributors (such as Anthony Lilles) on Roman Catholic spirituality called RCSpiritualDirection.com and it can be found along with other recommended blogs at our Online Spiritual Reading link at the upper right of this web page.
Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within
by Thomas Dubay, S.M. (2002)
Much like Seeking Spiritual Direction, also by Fr. Dubay, this book’s best part is the question and answer portion toward the end. The answers are reassuring and not at all intimidating. Consider the exchange on distractions in Chapter 15, “Problems and Pitfalls”:
3. “I am often pestered with distractions at prayer. I really do not want them, but is there anything I can do to get rid of them? I try but don’t much succeed.”
The first thing you can do is be at peace. As long as distractions are not deliberate or intentional, they do much less harm than you think. If you sincerely want to pray, and you try reasonably well, you are praying.
– pg. 149
Other highlights are a chapter dedicated to the “Liturgy of the Hours”, and the final two chapters, “Assessing Progress” and “Growing in Depth”.
Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within
by Thomas Dubay, S.M. (1993)
Of this there is no doubt: this book is written by an expert in the subject. That makes it money and time well spent immediately.
The vast majority of the book (the final two-thirds) is written in a question and answer format, which works surprisingly well. At times the back and forth seems contrived and stiff, but luckily that is not pervasive. On occasion, the flow seems so natural that maybe it is indeed a real interview or conversation.
This work may be the most practical spiritual book I have read. It truly is a no nonsense book. The advice on how to find and discern a suitable spiritual director is invaluable. The pitfalls Fr. Dubay makes you aware of are things that are better not learned by experience if you can avoid it.