Book Review: Seeking Spiritual Direction
Author: Thomas Dubay, S.M.
Publisher: Servant Books ISBN: 9780892838103
I’ve appreciated the writing of Fr Thomas Dubay since the first works that were recommended to me. It seems odd to me in the context that his books were recommended, I was studying for certification in the field of spiritual direction, that this very book wasn’t one of the required readings. I was fortunate to have stumbled upon it in the library of a monastery that I frequent and I am so very, very glad I found it.
What sets this book apart from others I have read on the subject of spiritual direction is the straight-forwardness of the conversation. Fr Dubay is very clarifying in setting foundations, establishing definitions, and clearing up blurred lines and misinformation with regard to this neglected and needful gift to the Church.
All of Part One addresses various aspects of spiritual direction and clarifies definitions. It is appropriately called A Foundation for Spiritual Direction. A couple of the more pertinent topics dealt with in this first section are “What is Spiritual Direction?” and “Do I Need Spiritual Direction.” I like that Fr Dubay is very direct, yet his answers and points made seem very thorough.
Part Two of the book is a unique departure from the format of the first section. The questions presented, “Practical Questions and Problems,” are considered and responded to in an interview format. This worked very well for me as I felt myself drawn into a conversation; it was almost as if I were in the room with Fr Dubay and some anonymous interviewer. My attention was rapt and I learned much while topics such as Key Concerns in Spiritual Direction, Self Direction, and Problem that Come up in Spiritual Direction were discussed. Again, the content of the answers was very direct, but no lacking in detail and thoroughness.
Part Three, Making Progress, returned to the same format of section one; instead of questions, there were bulleted discussion points, which Fr Dubay shared insights. This section spoke to measuring spiritual growth and discernment in the process of spiritual maturity.
A very detailed notes section and an index are included helping the reader to have additional resources for follow up study and/or finding particular topics of interest in this book. It should be noted that the book and accompanying paradigm with which it is written is decidedly Roman Catholic. Let me state unequivocally that this fact alone should not deter reading if your background is that of another Christian tradition. There is a wealth, a cornucopia of spiritual wisdom in this book, Seeking Spiritual Wisdom. My background comes from the Protestant Evangelical stream of Christianity and I will continue to recommend this book with highest regard as one of the best books to clarify what spiritual direction is and the importance of its place and practice in the life of the Christian.