Here is what he has to say:
Many people who have grown accustomed to spending much time in prayer, reading many spiritual books, imagine themselves saints already and seek a spiritual director who suits their fantasy and taste, flattering their progress in the spiritual life, long before virtue is proven, or prayer is more than an occasional interior consolation, and so on. Many of us lay people imagine ourselves to be very holy if we spend a few hours a week in adoration, attend daily Mass, or recite the Liturgy of Hours on a more or less regular basis.
If we happen to have led wicked lives in the past, or have come through some great temptation or trauma, and experience the least hint of a remarkable conversion, even an experienced priest can think we are holy and very special. That is unfortunate, because then spiritual direction can become a pretext for mutual admiration and approval - a sort of spiritual recreation, rather than helping the soul enter the narrow way that leads to life.
OUCH! Is anyone cringing?
I've been seeking a spiritual director for a long time now, and a big part of me doesn't want one, because, of course, if I'm honest with him I know I won't be able to step out of the spotlight that will be shown on my faults. However, those who are in vocational discernment are strongly recommended to get a spiritual director, and those preparing to enter religious life as well, for some pretty obvious reasons.
There are a couple priests in my diocese, whom, I've been told, believe that ONLY people discerning major things in life need regular spiritual direction, and they will not see anyone outside of those parameters. Terry's post makes me consider a little more deeply why that would be.
Last year in a class on Catholic Spirituality, our professor also pointed out that sometimes people need direction for specific things, maybe a few appointments, and then they're done. A good director knows how to listen and help that person understand on their own what God is doing in their lives, and often, they have that "lightbulb" moment and don't ask for or require further direction.
There is a WEALTH of information via the Saints that can aid us in our spiritual lives. I've been greatly benefited by St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, and Finding God's Will for You, as well as Slawomir Biela's God Alone Suffices and most recently, St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue. (I would not recommend this last for a beginning Catholic...it does seem to require a certain doctrinal foundation which she refers to repeatedly.)
That said, I've also often read that "Devout Life" is meant to be used by someone WHILE they are in spiritual direction for that was his intention. And St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle was written for cloistered nuns...not the laity.
Yet those books can be helpful, and they do draw attention to our own tendencies to think ourselves holy, in order that we can come crashing back to reality again and really work on what separates us from God.
Can't find a spiritual director? Terry makes a great point, from the counsel gleaned not just from the Saints, but from everyday Catholic living: stay close to the Sacraments, spend time in prayer, and take advantage of the wealth of the Church to aid you in holiness. Our holiness does not depend on having a spiritual director, but is entirely dependent upon following God's will for us.
Sometimes we need more intense assistance. Most of the time, we don't.