The coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment at Depression era levels. Civil rights protests that rival those of the 1960s.
What the world needs now is prayer — and some spiritual guidance. Sister Kathleen Murphy is a certified spiritual director, someone who companions people as they develop deeper relationships with God.
She’s not a therapist, though she does admit that she incorporates some of renowned psychotherapist Carl Jung’s methods into her work (self-awareness can help us make changes in our lives), along with the teachings of St. Ignatius and St. Francis.
“There are three roles for a spiritual director,” she says. “We give hospitality by creating a safe space for people to examine where they find God in their lives. We are teachers and we are mid-wives in that we help bring out what is already in an individual’s soul.”
Sister Kathleen has adapted her work with directees due to the pandemic’s stay at home and physical distancing requirements. She has emailed each directee to check on them and conducts spiritual sessions via telephone and videoconferencing. She proposes that people keep a ‘gratitude journal,’ where they write down that day’s gift from God, and recommends changes in their prayers, if they desire.
“I suggest the Rosary often because it’s tactile and repetitive, which can help lead people to contemplation,” she says.
Most directees are upbeat during this difficult time, Sister Kathleen says. “People say they appreciate that they have had more time for prayer during the pandemic. Others say that they are growing closer to their spouses,” she reports.
Sister Kathleen directs people from a variety of faith traditions. All of them miss worshipping in community. Roman Catholic directees especially miss receiving the Eucharist and long for the day when they can do so again.