The Christian life is a grand journey. And like any pilgrimage along unfamiliar roads, we can benefit from having experienced guides and trustworthy companions along the way.
Through their classic spiritual texts, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross offer valuable maps of tried paths along the way. But they were both, at the same time, experienced and sought-after spiritual companions for many others. Their timeless insights into the qualities that should mark a good spiritual director—earned, experienced, and discerning—are the fruit of their own prayer, reflection, and rich personal experience as guides and as people guided by others.
Mark O'Keefe, OSB, is professor of moral theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. Among his most recent books are In Context: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Their World (2019); The Way of Transformation: Saint Teresa of Avila on the Foundation and Fruit of Prayer (2016); and Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of Saint John of the Cross (2014). An experienced spiritual guide and retreat director, he also currently serves as resident chaplain of the Carmelite Nuns of Terre Haute, Indiana.