Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction

Susan S. Phillips

Mar/2008, 272 Pages, PAPERBACK, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819222978



Candlelight offers an intimate view of spiritual direction through written re-enactments of actual spiritual direction sessions. The experiential practice is accompanied by theoretical and theological foundations guiding it. The book includes the stories of nine men and women whose stories illustrate how the journey of Christian discipleship is helped by spiritual direction.

The Spiritual Directors International Series – This book is part of a special series produced by Morehouse Publishing in cooperation with Spiritual Directors International (SDI), a global network of some 6,000 spiritual directors and members.

Series titles thus far include:

Discerning Life Transitions

Listening Together in Spiritual Direction


Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction

Awakening the Creative Spirit

Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction

Out of Darkness, Into Light

Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources

Tending the Holy

Spiritual Direction Across Traditions


The Heart of Spiritual Direction

Anglican Spiritual Direction

Faith Styles

Ways People Believe

Spiritual Direction in Context

Supervision of Spiritual Directors

Engaging in Holy Mystery

For more information on SDI, please visit


Susan Phillips Is executive director of New College Berkely, part of the Graduate Theological Union. She has recently spoken in England, Canada, Austria, Thailand, and the US; she regularly leads retreats for churches and clergy groups. She teaches spiritual theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, the largest Christian seminary in the US. She is a spiritual director.

“Susan Phillips’s thoughtful, listening intelligence incandesces in this account of her practice of spiritual direction. The process comes to vivid life in her personal narratives of sessions with directees in God’s presence. I was moved at the way Susan’s insights grew in relationship with those she met with over months and years. I felt holiness creeping into my own life.” —Luci Shaw, author, Breath for the Bones: Imagination, Art, & Spirit and Writer in Residence, Regent College

“Reading Candlelight is like watching spiritual direction sessions through a two-way mirror while simultaneously privy to the thoughts and feelings of the author. Invaluable for people doing spiritual direction or contemplating it. Provides discerning insights into the difference in form and focus between psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Likely to be absorbing reading for Jungian or transpersonal psychologists.” —Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., author of Close to the Bone and Crossing to Avalon

“Some form of spiritual direction is to be found in all the world religions and in many tribal religions as well, but it is only recently that this function has come to be widely recognized in modern societies. As we grope toward understanding what spiritual direction might mean to us we badly need to know how it actually works today. Here Susan Phillips’s book offers a signal contribution. She gives us not a ‘how to’ book but illustrations of spiritual direction in practice as no other book I know of does. By following the experiences of those she has directed over time and through deepening insight we get an understanding that no set of generalizations can provide. This moving book deserves close attention by all those concerned with retrieving the rich possibilities of spiritual direction today.” —Robert N. Bellah, professor of sociology, emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of Habits of the Heart

“Susan Phillips’s ‘candlelighting’ gives us more than mere flickers of insight in this fine book. She sheds the light of much wisdom that will encourage and inspire both the givers and the receivers of spiritual direction.” —Richard Mouw

“Susan Phillips doesn't just talk about spiritual direction, she allows us to see her engaged in this ministry, providing a much needed glimpse inside the spiritual direction room, inside the lives of real directees, inside the mind and heart of a gifted spiritual director.” —Elizabeth Liebert, Professor of Spiritual Life, San Francisco Theological Seminary

“While some books on spiritual direction emphasize theology and theory and others are more practical and applied, Susan Phillips offers us something quite unique. We are invited to peek into sacred spaces, absorb poignant stories and watch the candle shed light and sketch shadows. Instead of the harshness of pragmatic, prescriptive and programmatic approaches to spirituality, one is left with a deep and gentle sense that God is here with us.” —Dr. Rod Wilson President and Professor of Counselling and Psychology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

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