Soul Friend: Spiritual Direction in the Modern World (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2001)

Spiritual direction (or spiritual accompaniment) has become a widespread ministry in Catholic and mainstream Protestant circles over the last four decades, and this book by Kenneth Leech, published in 1977, may have directly contributed to its rise in popularity. Leech wrote the book with Anglican clergy in mind, only to discover that it found a larger audience among American laypeople. Heavily footnoted and steeped in history, it’s not a casual read — but it is a rich and rewarding one. The title comes from the Irish word anamchara (also spelled anam cara, as made popular in the 1990s by John O’Donohue), and speaks to the longstanding Celtic practice of elders providing spiritual mentoring to individuals. Leech explores not only the history of spiritual companionship, but also its therapeutic and prophetic (social/political) dimensions. Soul Friend is an essential book for anyone providing a ministry of spiritual companionship, but it is also a valuable book for anyone serious about the practice of Christian spirituality.

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