The Direction of Souls
25 May 2010
This woman therefore grew in exceptional virtues and by the fame of her good deeds drew to herself from all the provinces of Ireland inestimable numbers of people of both sexes...Her concern was to provide for the orderly direction of souls in all things and to care for the churches of the many provinces which were associated with her.
- Cogitosus, Life of St. Brigit (Irish, 7th century)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
- 2 Corinthians 1.3, 4
Brigit, along with Ita, Brendan's foster mother, are the two great women of the Celtic revival. Much of Brigit's story is shrouded in mystery and confused with a per-Christian pagan goddess. Still, there is enough that touches base with history to inform us that she was a remarkable woman.
Her mission was to care for the souls of those in her charge, and she put special emphasis on the importance of each follower of Christ having a soul friend, a person who loved one's soul as much as his own, and who devoted himself to the nurture of his friend's soul through all his days.
Growing in Christ doesn't just happen. It must be deliberately and continuously attended to as an "inside-out" venture in shaping our hearts, minds, and consciences to love Christ supremely. It's good to have others to help us in this project, for, on our own, we are not naturally inclined to growth. But we can know real progress in our souls through a disciplined life of seeking the Lord, particularly when we have a soul friend or two to aid us in the journey.
Soul friends are prayer partners, accountability partners, study mates, collaborators in ministry, and watchers over our souls. By spending time with a soul friend and working toward specific improvements in the soul, in a framework of seeking the Lord through spiritual disciplines, we can make real progress in our Christian life. Brigid once said that a man without a soul friend was like a man without a head - no direction, no accountability, no comfort.
Start with your spouse, then seek out a soul friend of the same sex to help give meaningful direction to your soul. You'll grow more consistently in the Lord - and so will your soul friend.
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This Week's Download: A Personal Rule
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