Sacred Is the Call

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Sacred Is the Call

Formation and Transformation in Spiritual Direction Programs

Mercy Center, a leading spiritual direction program, offers this powerful guide to spiritual formation as a journey of faith. Examining the call to spiritual direction as a sacred task, this resource helps seekers experience a deepening of individual maturity, inner freedom, and personal transformation.

The ministry of spiritual direction has expanded in recent years with a blossoming of programs all over the world. This book, articulates the wisdom of many leaders in the field. The authors, each with decades of experience, have helped design many of the most respected spiritual direction programs in the United States. Their collective wisdom is gathered here on core topics which are presented, along with guides for presentation, resources, and reflection questions.

Contributors include such luminaries as Mary Ann Scofield, Jim Neafsey, Don Bisson, Jim Keegan SJ, Bill Creed SJ, Lucy Abbott Tucker, Maria Bowen, Joe Driskill, and Jim Bowler. Topics encompass contemplative listening, discernment, the wisdom of the body, ethics, male and female perspectives, sexuality, and prayer. Each entry features questions to contemplate and suggestions for further reading.

A practical help to program staff, and dependable classroom material, this book also offers nurturing guidance to individual seekers.

Reviews and endorsements

"Now I have received two gifts from the Mercy Center: training in spiritual direction, and Sacred is the Call. Both exemplify what is meant by 'tending the holy.'"
Sarah Stockton, author, teacher, and spiritual director


"Drawing from the practical wisdom of . . . the best-known and respected contemporary spiritual directors in the world, Sacred is the Call may just be one of the most valuable collections ever compiled on the subject of spiritual direction. It not only provides cogent, jargon-free explanations about the basic ministry of spiritual direction—valuable to anyone interested in learning more about the ministry—but it provides enough depth of subject matter to assist even the most experienced of spiritual directors and those who train spiritual directors. To borrow a phrase that one of the writers, Sandra Lommasson, uses to describe spiritual practice across traditions, this book 'goes deep to go broad' (p. 166). That is it allows each contributor to go deep enough into his or her own area of interest so that, as you read, you will begin to see the many ways their wisdom can be incorporated into practices and formation programs.

The book is probably not meant primarily to be a 'tool box' of techniques for directors or formation supervisors, but it can be used that way. Each writer offers a practice or formation program.

Maria Tattu Bowen explains the principles used in the contemplative listening course taught to first-year students at San Francisco Theological Seminary’s spiritual direction program (p.33-41).

Mary Ann Scofield, RSM helps us understand the power of resistance from directees so that we see it for what it is—a place where God is active and where transformation can occur (p. 62).

Lommasson contributes a chapter on the relationship between sexuality and spirituality and another on the layers of relationships encountered when a spiritual director works within a religious community.

Bill Creed, SJ offers reflections from his work in spiritual direction with young adults.

And two of the most commanding chapters take on the critique of elitism in spiritual direction: Scofield invites each of us to think of ourselves as prophets pointing to God’s preferential option for the poor, and Donald Bisson, FMS fleshes out ways we can actually take direction to those who may want and need it but are too busy simply trying to make ends meet to run in circles where spiritual direction is promoted.

A provocative chapter by Creed calls on spiritual directors and training programs to consider the notion of credentialing. Provocative because most organizations of spiritual directors, including Spiritual Directors International, are wary of professionalizing a ministry that is practiced in so many different ways all over the world. But Creed’s suggestion will reignite the debate. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and a list of resources about the subject. Spiritual directors and those who help form and train them will not just read this book—they will happily wear it out in discussion groups, supervision, regional gatherings, and continuing education."
Teresa Blythe, author, spiritual director, and coordinator of the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona

Paperback / 232 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9 1/4