The Guild for Spiritual Guidance


The Ministry of Spiritual Guidance

In most Protestant traditions, ordination is to a “ministry of word and sacrament.” Of course, a parochial ministry includes much more than preaching and the administration of the sacraments, but ordination specifically authorizes the performance of these two important functions in the life of a parish church. There is another ministry, however, which has been practiced in the Christian Church from its initiation in the fourth century by the Desert Fathers: The ministry of spiritual guidance. Perhaps it is an inadvertent wisdom on the part of the Church that it does not include specific authorization of this ministry in its ordination service. It is a ministry which many ordained ministers would not be qualified to practice. They do not possess this gift which is tantamount to an “ordination from on high.” On the other hand, many lay men and women do possess this gift. Clearly there is no more important ministry. The practice of this ministry, whether by clergy or laity, is therefore a significant witness to the priesthood of all believers, whether ordained or not. When assessing the gifts of the spirit, St. Paul recognizes the 'gifts of healing, or ability to help others, or power to guide them” (I Cor. 12:28).

The Current Practice of Spiritual Guidance

In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of the Church of Christ there has been an unbroken continuity of the practice of this ministry. In the Catholic Church it has continuously been performed by ordained priests for the benefit of the “religious”; that is, those men and women who are members of one or another of the recognized orders. There have been notable exceptions. Baron Von Hügel, a distinguished lay theologian, served Evelyn Underhill, an Anglican lay woman, as spiritual guide. The Catholic Church has usually referred to this process as one of “formation” and conceived of it as training for those who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. But “the religious” ought to be a more inclusive term, referring to any who aspire to dedication in the life of the Spirit, whether they are called as well to a vocation within one of the “orders” or not. Eastern Orthodoxy has had a broader concept. The spiritual guide, designated by the title “starets,” may be clerical or lay, and the laity have equal access to this ministry.

In Protestantism this ministry has generally been neglected. Now and again there have been ministers with pastoral gifts in the cure of souls who have made themselves available to their parishioners, on an individual basis for an hour or so a week for an indefinite period, to assist them in deepening their devotional lives and in resolving the obstacles that stand in the way. Generally, however, there has been no recognition of the notion that spiritual guidance could constitute a lay ministry. To meet the growing need for such a ministry, but also to some extent, one suspects, to alleviate growing frustration many pastors have felt in a parochial ministry, there has grown up over the past years a specialized ministry for the clergy known as pastoral counseling.

This movement has set up its own organization and devised its own training, standards and credentials. Much of the practice of this ministry, though it enjoys an unofficial accreditation by the institu­tional Church and its practitioners are usually able to meet state standards in the practice of counseling, is indistinguishable from various forms of secular counseling. It represents a kind of baptism of Freudian psychology and affords clergy who are not happy with parochial assignments an alternate, socially acceptable, ministry which can also be more lucrative than many parochial assignments. But the actual practice of this ministry and its objectives bears little resemblance to classic spiritual direction in the heritage of the Church.

The Contribution of Jungian Psychology

One school of psychology, however, has a natural affinity with traditional spiritual direction: that of Carl Jung. The reason for this is that Jung himself clearly stood in the great succession of cures of souls. Raised in the Swiss Reformed Church, his father one of its ministers, he early rebelled against the formalism of the Church and a literal acceptance of its doctrines. But he came to see the need of every individual, for his/her soul's health, to have a viable religious myth. It was his contention that after mid-life every patient who came to him was suffering with more or less intensity from a loss of myth. In contrast to Freud's claim that religion was “the history of an illusion” and the cultivation of religious faith and practice an immaturity, Jung believed that religion was necessary for the health and vigor of an individual. Indeed he chose one of the most charismatic of religious symbols, “the quest of the holy grail,” to image the central process leading to psychological health: individuation.

Acknowledging that he stood on the shoulders of Freud, he was able to perceive more distant horizons and convergences. He developed a myth of the psyche that involved profound reverence for its mysteries. He saw in the unconscious not only the repository of all repression and the place where one studied the pathology of the psyche, as did Freud, but the monitor, the daimon, that could guide one into a true understand­ing of the self. Mystic that he was, he held that “the archetype of the self and the archetype of The Self (God) are ultimately indistinguishable. The inward journey to the self, the process of individuation, is at the same time the journey to God within, the immanent manifestation of the transcendent God. This inward journey involves the making conscious of the contents of the unconscious as revealed in dreams and fantasies, and the work of integration of these contents with consciousness. It is a “consciousness-raising” process, requiring, among other things, deliberate conjunction of opposites. Every persona, an exterior mask by which we project the way we want to be seen and our adjustment to social expecta­tions, has in the unconscious a compensatory opposite, a shadow manifes­tation. Moreover, every man has a feminine component in his psyche, an anima; every woman a masculine component, an animus. A viable accommodation must be won for the sake of psychic health. Wholeness is the objective. Jung believed that the only acceptable and stable holiness of life is that which emerges from wholeness of life.

One might say that individuation in the Jungian sense is the psychological equivalent for what used to be called “sanctification” by the Church. It is the only safe and sound form of holiness. So Jung’s individuation process is a kind of religious “formation.” Since his form of depth psychology makes a place for the soul and its cultivation, and charts a course for an inward journey whose ideal destination is the self in God, communication between this process and that of Christian “formation”, through spiritual direction, becomes possible. Indeed, depth psychology of the Jungian stamp constitutes fresh revelation, I believe, concerning the nature of the human psyche. It has emerged with insights which stand in judgment upon the dangers of certain concepts and practices within the heritage of Christian spiritual direction. It makes clear that certain aberrations must undergo reform. The heritage needs revision and reformation while its energies, generated by organic depth as an historical/process, may be conserved and effectively channeled into a contemporary practice of spiritual guidance.

The Guild for Spiritual Guidance

Indeed, this is precisely what the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, sponsored by Wainwright House in Rye, New York, is undertaking to do. The initial impetus came from Morton Kelsey whose own practice of spiritual guidance as an episcopal priest, with tenure on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, realized a synthesis between the heritage of spiritual direction and Jungian insights. He tried to interest seminaries in a postgraduate three-year program that would equip selected pastors for this kind of specialized ministry. None responded. However, Wainwright House recognized the need for such a program. Providentially, its own history and commitment demanded an important revision of the plan. Wainwright House had been founded by the Layman's Movement for a Christian World. For many years it had been laboring to create and to foster various forms of significant lay ministry. Here was the basic motivation for a program that would prepare laymen as well as clergy, on an equal basis, for the exercise of a common ministry of as great significance and value as any performed by the ordained clergy.

In the fall of 1977 the Director of Wainwright House called together a group of clergy and laity which included Morton Kelsey, Douglas Steere, Henri Nouwen, John Oliver Nelson, Polly Wiley, Jack Ballard and Colman Ives. There was an extraordinarily synchronous convergence of both ideas of what was needed, and a sense of urgency in providing a program designed to cultivate in those in whom the gift could be discerned the capacity to engage in spiritual guidance. Certain important decisions, taking the form of mutual commitments, were reached by consensus. The central and basic idea was that we were to fashion a way of wedding together the heritage of Christian spiritual direction with the fresh revelation concerning the human psyche that was emerging from depth psychology, specifically that of C. G. Jung. We were justi­fied in starting a new movement because no one else was attempting to do this. Even the movement known as Pastoral Counseling neither saw itself as rooted and grounded in Christian spiritual direction nor as committed to Jung's distinctive myth of the psyche.

The Commitment to the Teilhardian Vision

We saw that this union had to take place within the context of a larger myth, an ultimate view of the universe. G. K. Chesterton once counseled a person seeking a furnished apartment: “Do not inquire of the landlady concerning the cleanliness of the linen, nor the durability of the furniture. Inquire rather concerning her ultimate view of the universe.” If this were important with reference to one's landlady, how much more so with reference to one's spiritual guide! We agreed that we wanted the program of cultivation for spiritual guidance to take place with reference to a clearly articulated ultimate view of the universe. The all-inclusive myth lay at hand in the experience and persuasion of a sufficient number of the founders of the Guild: that of a cosmogenesis as articulated by Teilhard de Chardin, a universe still being born under the continuing creativity of the Judaeo-Christian God. We resisted the temptation to be eclectic and inter-faith, to establish so broad a base that we stood for nothing specifically. Rooted and grounded in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, we chose to relate organically and theologically to the Christian phylum.

This meant that we saw the work of spiritual guidance as taking place within the overarching framework of continuing creation through evolution. We had come to see with Teilhard that the axis of the evolutionary process may be described as complexity-consciousness, a movement toward ever more remarkable integration in the presence of ever more extraordinary complexity. This is now inclusive of the great new extension of complexity introduced by the advent of consciousness. The very word “religion” derives from the Latin “religio, religare,” to “bind into one sheaf.” The new responsibility of religion is to help its adherents bind together the contents of the unconscious with those of consciousness in a hard-won, never fully realized integration or whole­ness, the only viable and stable holiness of life. Though they did not know one another, by extraordinary synchronicity the mythologies of Teilhard and Jung converge and mutually confirm one another, though Teilhard's is cosmic in scope and Jung's limits itself to a study of the human psyche.

The Convergence of the Myths of Teilhard and Jung

It has become apparent that the law operative at the core of the evolutionary process itself, complexity-consciousness, has its precise counterpart or immediate expression in the center of the individual human psyche: the drive toward individuation. As it has always been in evolu­tion, this is a matter of life or death. The inexorable demand of continuing creation through evolution is: “assimilate or perish.” Oh, the human being may survive physically, as plants may survive that bear no flower or fruit, but as far as the potential for further growth is concerned in the life of the spirit it is a matter of life or death. Get it all together along this royal road to integration or individuation as your life experiences, reflections, and relationships expand, or succumb to stasis or disintegration! Life is consciousness-raising all the way, or slow decay, a falling back into the original void of chaos. The journey to the self, the longest and the deepest journey, is the journey to the Self (God within), a coming home, a winning of the Holy Grail, a keeping faith with the very “raison d’être” of the whole process.

The individual journey, in our new evolutionary perspective, is the microcosmic analogue of the macrocosmic venture. It is the miniscule reflection of the “immense journey” on which evolution has been embarked from the beginning of time. But it isn't just that. Within the life of the individual, even in embryo, the vast journey across axons of time is recapitulated (ontógeny recapitulates phylógeny); something infinitely more wonderful is also true: coded into our very genes is the human potential for becoming the new man, the “son of man,” man's successor, the second Adam, homo spiritus, destined to incarnate on earth the Christ life.

Man and woman are made in the image of God. It is not that they bear the stamp of the divine, as a mint imposes the desired image on the face of coins. The external God dwells within the depths of our very being, awaiting an opportunity for a new, never-to-be-repeated form of life in the unique individuation of which we are capable. Alan Watts once suggested an intriguing metaphor: God is like an actor who is so absorbed in the role he is playing in each one of us that he has forgotten who he is, until, in the mystics, he now and again remembers. Blasphemy? Let the Devil make the most of it: My becoming me is my way of allowing God to be God in me in this never-to-be-repeated opportunity of my little life-span. This is the great, recurring witness of the apostolic succession of mystics. Exulted Catherine of Genoa: “My me is God.” Eckhart echoed the preposterous claim and added: “Where I am there is God, and where God is there am I.”

So the immense journey continues to advance through rising consciousness. The spearhead of the arrow, pointing direction on this planet to date, is the human psyche. As consciousness rises at the patient pace of evolution it reveals new aspects of spirituality. In one of those ecstatic utterances characteristic of Teilhard's flashes of insight, he held that the entire process could be seen as one of “amorization,” one of “directed chance” moving toward even more beautiful ways of expressing and incarnating love. There followed the inevitable prophecy: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have”

The New Practice of Spiritual Guidance in this Context

Spiritual direction must now be seen against this panoramic backdrop. It is well now to designate this work “guidance” rather than “direction,” for the latter has an authoritarian ring which is inappropriate in our time. We are more aware than our predecessors of the besetting temptations that accompany all forms of “direction” in the dread forms of hubris and inflation. A new humility is demanded in the presence of the expanding dimensions of complexity of which we have become aware. How can anyone presume to name and claim this gift (calling, vocation) within the awesome framework in which its exercise must now be set? It is daunting enough to consider oneself as in any sense, however remotely, standing in the great apostolic succession of cures of souls. But in the context of the human condition as it has been revealed in evolutionary and depth psychological perspectives, to presume to offer spiritual guidance to another—Oh, Lord, who may stand? The ultimate pride is spiritual pride! No inflation is more monstrous, no sin more mortal.

Yet, there it is, rising up out of the pages of the New Testament and laying its hand inexorably upon us: Paul is the first to name and claim for a Christian ministry this gift. He refers to “those who have gifts of healing, or ability to help others or power to guide them” (I Cor. 12:28, New English Bible). Despite the inherent temptations, if the call is genuine, we evade it on peril to our immortal souls. As well imagine Isaiah rejecting the burning coals as we denying the .inescapable commission from on high. Of course this is a matter of discernment. One's own discernment must be confirmed by the discernment of others in position to observe and made competent by reason of effective practice of this vocation over a long period of time. Mistakes of discernment can be made and will be made. One may also have the gift and become disobedient in its practice. One may become guilty of malpractice in this as well as in medical forms of healing. One must embark upon this vocation in fear and trembling. He dare not enter it if he can possibly stay out, but if the divine injunction is laid upon him how may he decline? The call emerges from the unconscious as in the dream the child, Samuel, heard his own name spoken. Refusal to respond would be a sin against one's own potential being as well as the Holy Spirit who issues the call. If the impression, oft repeated until virtually confirmed in solitude, persists, “for this was I born,” one had better yield! The alternative is to reject the one great chance to become, to grow into, oneself and to become instrumental in that vital pursuit for others.

The Discernment of the Gift

Now, suppose that the gift has been rightly discerned. Then it must be exercised, as the night follows the day. It has been said, “a good counselor does not want for clients.” How much more a born spiritual guide. Simone Weil knew the tragedy in the paucity that exists: “One may perchance discover a good confessor once or twice in a lifetime.” Spiritual counselors are born, not made. There is no way of imparting the gift. Like a musical talent, it is either there or not there. Many in history and in our contemporary world practice this gift without formal training of any kind, as many great musicians have developed their own gift. Who trained the curé of Ars in spiritual guidance? Yet he stood in a great tradition, and that tradition was imparted in the writings of the mystics, through his novice master and his own confessor. The point is that while we cannot teach the art or impart the gift, we can help to cultivate it when it is there. And “the fields are ripe for the harvest,” that is, the world is awaiting the advent of more spiritual guides. The Church itself is languishing for the performance of this ministry. Few clergy are equipped to engage in it. Precious few laymen are authorized or even encouraged to practice it under the auspices of their parish churches.

The Cultivation of the Gift

When the Advisory Committee of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance met, it saw its mission as the discernment of the gift and the cultivation of it for its more effective practice. Amid the plethora of schools of counseling it perceived its own peculiar niche as a form of spiritual guidance that saw itself as rooted and grounded in the heritage of classical spiritual direction, now informed and reformed by the fresh revelation emerging from depth psychology, especially that of Carl Jung. This synthesis was to be realized within the framework of a Teilhardian myth of cosmogenesis and committed to the mystical understanding of the immanent God within all persons, as we have said. But how devise a program of adequate cultivation? Of course it would be desirable if every guide could have a full theological education and be the recipient of a Jungian analysis, or its equivalent, as Morton Kelsey had suggested. But it was our conviction that this would unnecessarily limit the field of prospective guides. Moreover, such exclusivism would violate the central principle that this was to be a form of ministry equally open to the laity and of equal value with an ordained ministry. We deliberately chose qualifica­tions for applicants that would not exclude laymen nor those whose acquaintance with the psychology of Jung did not include an analysis.

To afford the venture an institutional framework we chose the concept of the Guild. Research revealed the concept emerged in the fifth or sixth century, and was elaborated in the middle ages. It had to do with individuals committed to a similar calling or vocation, banding themselves together as a means of mutual support and encouragement and to preserve, by discipline, the standards and ideals of the particular vocation. There were masters and apprentices in every Guild. We did not feel we could designate any living guide as a master. This was an honor that could safely be conferred only posthumously by consensus. The great master in this Guild was of course Jesus of Nazareth, but there was in addition the well-accepted roster of mystics and cures of souls in the Christian heritage of spiritual direction. We agreed, moreover, that Teilhard and Jung already qualified on this basis as masters. But our teachers in the seminars offered were to be known as cultivators, the students known as apprentices (a term borrowed from the historic guilds). These terms seemed in keeping with the central notion that the talent was God-given. The medieval term “journeymen,” provided we add its equivalent “journeywomen,” seemed synchronously appropriate since being “on journey” and accompanying others on their journey is what the vocation is all about. But a name for the guides within the Guild awaits final decision.

The only sound continuing education for this awesome vocation is a disciplined, life-long inward journey. The deepest qualification perhaps is becoming increasingly a contemplative. The sustained cultivation of what St. Paul called “the life that is hid with Christ in God” constitutes the never-ending training. Everyone has the mystical faculty by virtue of being human. Adapting what Eckhart said of the artist and would have been equally prepared to say of the mystic: “the mystic is not a special kind of person; every person is a special kind of mystic.” But it behooves the would-be spiritual guide to dedicate himself especially to the cultivation of the mystical faculty. Among other things, this involves a sustained exposure to the cultivated mystics. Robert Hutchens felt that all sound education was exposure to greatness. Even more is this true when continuing education for spiritual guidance is involved. Other disciplines that seem to qualify as constants are prayer in the classic forms of meditation (praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession and petition), and contemplation or the prayer of quiet or adoration, some regular form of fasting, reflection with creative imagination upon the scriptures, keeping a journal in which to record one's dreams and fantasies as a discipline of communication with God in the unconscious. To this should be added, of course, a sustained study of the psychology of C. G. Jung, and if possible some Jungian counseling, if not analysis.

The Emphasis of Being on a Journey

The central idea in the continuing cultivation of the talent is that of being “on journey.” No one can presume to accompany, much less guide another, on a journey unless he or she has been over a period of years on a profound inward journey to the self (individuation) and to the Self or God within (sanctification). When it came to establishing a two-year curriculum of cultivation it was clear that all seminars must contribute in some effective way to making this inward journey more authentic and more effective with the vocation in mind. Clearly the two staple subjects must be an understanding of the heritage of Christian spiritual direction and its historical practitioners, and an understanding and adaptation for this purpose of Jung's myth of the psyche. Teilhard's myth of cosmogenesis and Christogenesis must also be interpreted. The elements of mystical religion and their applicability must be put forward. Some acquaintance with Ira Progoff's intensive journal would seem indicated. The use of the Bible for human transformation would ground our practice where our roots still lie. Some review of both the constants and variables in a disciplined life in the Spirit was indispensable. So the themes of the seminars proceeded from the nature of our commitment. The range and quality of our cultivators strengthened the program.

The Time Factor

The format has been a two-year program of cultivation. Three terms of ten twenty-four hour periods from Sunday at four until the same hour Monday were designed for the first year, allowing each week for three seminars of two hours each, one or two processing sessions, worship periods, [individual counseling sessions,] and meals together. The second year offered seven longer weekends (Friday evening through Sunday noon) including an initial retreat and three continuing seminars on the other six weekends, plus periods of sharing experiences in the practice of spiritual guidance (encouraged in the second year) and periods of sharing of our inward journeys.

What has developed is a deep-bondedness between the members of the Guild. The meeting through such an intensive program has been deep-level. Inevitably individual and corporate shadows have been evoked. Members of the group have learned much about themselves in these encounters. The sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation has never been far to seek. One of the by-products of the Guild has been the salutary effect of the leveling process with regard to clerical and lay status. Though the clergy and theological students have brought more practice and acquaintance with scripture and theology, generally the approach to these disciplines is such that it has made no appreciable difference in the validity and authenticity of the insights shared, and many expressed the feeling that in no other church-related group has there been such an experience of equality, such a practice of the inherent priesthood of all believers involving the inevitable equivalent: the ultimate laity before God of all clergy.

Of course we have continuing debate on certain important issues: how to decrease the cost of the program to apprentices, the number and variety of subjects and cultivators to offer, the relationship of spiritual guidance to other forms of counseling. Our program by reason of limitation of time and energy cannot match the training in counseling techniques offered by secular programs. The training we offer has to do with the inward journey in the context of historical Christian spiritual direction and some grasp of Jungian psychology. Our seminars are all concerned with deepening this journey that one may qualify to accompany another on his/her journey. Ideally we look for apprentices among those who have been engaged for some years on such a journey, have known some­thing of the mid-life crisis, and have experienced shadow confrontation. We have accepted two or three in their twenties, but only because in these cases there had been an early realization of some measure of maturity, a precocious acquaintance with Jungian psychology, sustained counseling, and regular recording by journal of the inward journey.

Of course the two-year program is inadequate. It does not train for counseling in the secular sense and does not prepare to pass state boards of any kind. At the end of the period one is not entitled to hang up a shingle and proclaim himself/herself a spiritual guide and begin a lucrative practice. What we do hope is that the apprentice will have been motivated to deepen the inward journey and to discipline himself/herself in those practices of prayer, meditation, scripture and devotional reading, and further study of Jung in such a way that there may be sustained growth in the life of the Spirit. The cultivation of the contemplative faculty is the heart of the unending self-training. Directions for further development will have been indicated. Cultivators will have suggested further study to round out neglected or undeveloped areas in the individual's education. The Guild will afford a support group within which journeywomen and journeymen may continue to encourage one another on the journey which will always be largely solitary but which can in some measure be shared within the bonds of trust we hope will characterize the spirit of the Guild.

How Will Guidance Be Practiced?

How will the individual practice this calling? Each will pursue it in an utterly unique way according to the kind and quality of his/her native gifts, as well as training and experience outside the Guild. It is our hope that referrals will come through some active participation in some branch of the Church of Christ or an affiliated organization. We are audacious enough to believe that what we are under­taking is not only rooted and grounded in a long historical process, but informed and reformed by the fresh revelation we have described, and can now constitute a “peduncle,” a tender shoot of a new, organic movement with capacity to witness to the coming great Church. We do not envision a burgeoning movement to be measured in numbers and power, but a small movement with that kind of authenticity and commitment that can evoke and quicken the latent spirituality of other individuals in the Church, summoning them to their own inward journey to self and God. Perhaps the Church can come to recognize and encourage such a quiet, unassuming movement and acknowledge the validity of such a lay and clerical ministry.

No one should expect to earn a livelihood in such a ministry. All should have other sources of income and practice other forms of vocation. Some will engage in this vocation in informal ways related to their main means of livelihood and perhaps without any compensation, but on a disciplined basis with regard to time and sustained relationship with those accompanied or led on their journey. Others will be authorized by their own congregations to practice this ministry on an ongoing basis for which they will receive some appropriate compensation, either directly or indirectly, through the Church. Those they are serving will make a contribution to the Church in lieu of any established fee. We believe that in this as in other forms of ministry the laborer is entitled to some compensation even when the labor is one of love, as we trust this will be. This vocation is not a profession, nor is it a work for which the state can offer ·accreditation through established standards of training and the passing of examinations. If what is being offered is spiritual guidance it lies outside the province of State supervision. But we trust the practice of this vocation will be disciplined, that the Guild will develop its own standards and continue to encourage and cultivate the inner growth of the individual journeywoman and journeyman as a contemplative.

Each individual will practice the vocation in an utterly unique way. There will be no recognized, established techniques, but the practice of the vocation will involve the evoking of gifts, a mutual discernment of the way forward on the inward journey through the identification and removal of roadblocks, and the practice of the. constants and the appro­priate variables in the devotional life. Nothing, of course, is foreign to the life in the Spirit. But the guide will learn the wisdom of referral to other healing agents when a particular psychological problem lies outside the scope of one's own training and experience. What is being practiced in the pursuit of this vocation is an art, not a science; the gentle art of spiritual guidance. It is perhaps the greatest art form of all because it involves relating to another “in the things that are eternal,” as Thomas Kelly would have described it.

The man or woman in orders who is drawn to this extension of his/her ministry will welcome the opportunity for this form of continuing education for this purpose, even if he/she already has a theological degree and perhaps even a Jungian analysis. He/she will further welcome this rare opportunity to meet as equals with the laity and share a common ministry of no less value than the dual ministry of word and sacrament which his/her ordination conferred the right to practice. It is hoped that increasing numbers who possess the God-given talent will be drawn to put it to work in a disciplined way in a parochial setting to the general enrichment of the Church of Christ.

Finally, the greatest qualification for the effective practice of spiritual guidance, from the Anchorite Fathers through the great succession of contemplatives and curés of souls, is to be a lover of souls. This comes about only through the direct mystical experience of being loved by God without reservation or restriction. This constitutes the ordination from on high. The immediate and compelling response is falling in love with the source of this love, and the passionate desire to be a channel for the expression of the love of God for other living souls. The end of that cycle of love, so set in motion, is not yet. The primary work of spiritual guides is to find and to love God in those they serve, to the end that these may know they are loved by God and are therefore lovable. This provides the only sustained motivation for the arduous pursuit of individuation, commitment to the life that is hid with Christ in God.