Musings – Focus and Direction


The main purpose of this site is to help people prepare, primarily spiritually, but also physically. The way I go is a little way – like with dear St. Therese of Lisieux. I am far more concerned with what we should do than with what we can know, which is why I constantly emphasize that we should acknowledge God, be a sign of hope to those around us, and take the next right step. I do not like to delve very deeply into interpretation of prophecy or trying to figure out what is going to happen next. Too many have run aground doing that – including most of the ancient Israeli doctors of the law and prophetic experts who were great on contention and precision, but utterly missed the coming of the Messiah and the bursting forth of the kingdom. In fact, they took many opportunities to lecture Him – and later, His disciples – on their many errors, born of their ‘ignorance.’ Those who will be saved are those who do the Master’s will, not those who talk constantly about it.

This is paradoxical as I started this site in obedience to a lifetime of supernatural visitations and teachings. Equally paradoxical is that those visitations emphasized to me that it is in the simple, the ordinary that we find our salvation; by doing our ordinary tasks and living our ordinary duties with extraordinary love. But if prophet I am, then it is prophet of the ordinary and the mundane. I am not the guy who stands and proclaims, “Behold, there comes a pale horse” or some such; just a guy trying to steer people onto the safety of the boat – a boat that I’m not piloting and am not going to try to pilot.

But we are also instructed in Scripture to “despise not prophecy.” So, though it is not the focus of this site, when there is a well-reasoned piece that is faithful to the faith, whether it is enthusiastic or critical, I will often give it a hearing. In fact, there is a European theologian who takes a darker, though still obedient, view than I do concerning Fatima interpretation who I have invited to pen a guest column here. But that must not become the focus.

I fear I offended a few people because there were several comments on the Mallett piece a few days ago that I did not clear. I am loathe to contribute to controversy unless it generates more light than heat, so I may hold even a comment that is sound if it adds nothing new OR if it is not meticulous in its grounding both in faith and facts. On such columns that I allow in the future – either by me or others – I will take a different policy on comments just for those articles…that they be submitted for consideration rather than given easy approval. I will note with each column if that policy is in effect.

But I also know that many who hold their faith dear have been marginalized, that they have had encounters that they want to share and only get strange stares from a largely impious and disapproving world. I want to give an outlet for testimonies – and for people to talk candidly of those things that trouble them, of their hurts, of their joys. I have also been firmly instructed that all faithful Christians, Catholic and Protestant, and Jews are to be treated as full and equal partners in the work before us – that God, Himself, will see to unity through the course of the Storm. I worry that in spending so much time on these things, it drives out some of our brothers and sisters who are not Catholic. If I allow that, I fail in my work.

The site here has grown bigger and faster than I expected. I have to ask you for patience with me. I am finding my way and trying to live the work well…trying to figure out what the next right step is. So I am learning as I go and will make some mistakes along the way – some that will probably offend some. I will take small steps, that my missteps may be more easily and quickly corrected. I will trust God to correct – and even draw fruit from – my occasional errors in judgment here. But ever the focus here will be, acknowledge God, be a sign of hope and take the next right step.


The matter of spiritual direction is a lot larger and trickier than I thought. First, the demand seems to be growing exponentially. I spoke to one of my priests – who have always put a premium on giving direction. He is delighted that so many are coming out of the woodwork to seek solid direction. BUT, the number is so great and the number of qualified directors so small, he is frustrated because he is only able to give about 15 minutes per month to new folks coming in – and it just isn’t enough. The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.

Fortunately, a fellow who works with the U.S. Bishop’s Conference is helping put together some resources for me. Also, some folks in the Kansas City Diocese have a Spiritual Mentorship program. They were ahead of the curve in recognizing the growing need and have been doing some good work in pairing people up to help each other as more resources are developed. I have two people there who are getting information to me.

The main complication is my discovery that many outlets that ARE putting an emphasis on spiritual direction are mixing it up with Eastern and New Age mysticism, purporting that it is compatible with Catholic doctrine. It is not. These are entities that, whether they know it or not, are leading people away from safety rather than towards it. I cannot, in good conscience recommend any resource under those circumstances, unless I have personally vetted it. In the near term, that is an impossible task.

BUT…God always opens up a way. One of the things that is critical in these times is the full development of the apostolate of the laity. I like the idea of mentorship, partnership and companionship. So with the resources coming in, I will work with a core group to develop a simple means of laying a blueprint for the faithful to form groups together for both study and direction, under the supervision of a faithful priest and using simple principles. I will discuss more on it later, but I am working on it now and will go into hyper-drive when I get back home to Colorado next week.


I am in transit the next few days. I will not be able to regularly check on the site and respond to emails until next Wednesday. So if you have written me and have not heard back from me. be patient. I will be back at it the middle of next week. I may get a few things done spottily here and there until then, but I will be away until then.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
This entry was posted in General, Ordinary Preparation, Spiritual Preparation. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Musings – Focus and Direction

  1. vicardwm says:

    Hi Charlie, I’m looking forward to seeing what information you receive as far as spiritual direction and spiritual mentorship, which sounds like a great idea to fill the breach in the short-term. Both my wife and I have felt called to venture in the direction of being able to provide spiritual direction and mentorship, though we are also in great need of it ourselves. By the way, you would also be a wonderful spiritual mentor, though perhaps you are “disqualified” by virtue of speaking to angels. 🙂 Anyway, you may be a regular schlub, but you’re a very spiritually mature schlub.


    • charliej373 says:

      Kind of you to say, Vic. My director said the same thing the other day – and said he could help streamline getting me credentialed. I told him I am up to my ears with what I am doing…and he knows I’m not shy about sharing with people close to me anyway. I reminded him that a few years ago, at one of our sessions, he had ended it by saying (affectionately, I should note) that sometimes he wasn’t sure which of us was directing who. Actually, I think that the hallmark of a good directorial relationship – with the affection of family. He has never hesitated to talk about things that trouble him with me – nor has he hesitated to give me solid direction. I think that here, I am not giving direction, but giving a lot of nudging, so I will just stick with that for now – and working on the projects to help open up resources for all those who seek it. That ought to keep me busy for a little bit, anyway.


    • Lucy Rivers Patier says:

      Hi Charlie,

      I am new here, thanks be to God ! I am from Texas , but grew up going to Estes Park in the summer… truly blessed territory you are in !
      I wanted to share a wonderful text about Spiritual Direction found on “clerus” , which may not be known to many laypersons since it is the Vatican site for priests . I have been searching for quite some time for an “official” place to get some solid training in Spiritual Direction. You are very correct in saying that many places, even Diocesan formation centers , are tainted by New Age thought these days. One might ponder this text as part of the discernment process in either becoming or seeking a Spiritual Director. The above link contains two sections . The first part is on the subject of Reconciliation and the second one, on the subject of Spiritual Direction. It raises many excellent points for any Catholic layperson to consider, even though it was penned by the Congregation for the Clergy, for the needs of our beloved priestly ministers.

      Yes, Jesus said so clearly : The only sign you will have is the Sign of Jonah. Amen. May we be prepared spiritually (and to some extent, temporally) to navigate the turbulent waters we are in , times where our love of Truth is being mightily tested (2 Thess 2: 11-12) . As Jesus told Pilate : ” For this I was born and , and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Then Pilate said to him :” What is truth ?” Spiritual Direction is above all about learning how to pray and to hear (discern) the still, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, He Who is the Spirit of Truth.
      May the Blessed Trinity help us to take the next right step, the one that will keep us on the right path, that which is the Way , the Truth and the Life ! Amen.
      In the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Church,

      Liked by 1 person

      • charliej373 says:

        Thank you for that, Lucy. Ah, how I loved Texas, which I walked through on my pilgrimage! I appreciate the resources. Let us pray together and we will find a way so that all can be helped and guided spiritually, personally and intimately as we make our pilgrim way to the kingdom! I relish digging into this project – and dream of all getting help within the year, living greater fidelity, taking the next right step and being a great sign of hope to all they encounter! Thanks for adding in.


  2. Suzanne utts says:

    You’re right about Eastern and New Age Mysticism.

    We are to pray that YHVH sends more laborers to bring in the harvest. Do not worry! The Holy Spirit is ultimately in charge.


  3. aj says:

    Hey Charlie, I’ve seen it so often where “good” Christians disagree and interpret, especially mystical things, so differently. Again, the Good Lord is doing something with me to transform this hard headed nut 🙂 sometimes when I’m about to make a point I get the nudge from my Angel to hush and listen and not put forward my “right” opinion…and sometimes the end result of the group (Church leadership groups) discussion is opposed to mine and I actually see the Lord can actually disagree with me to achieve his will…could you believe He disagrees with me 🙂

    The reason I’m saying this Charlie and our mystical body of Christ is that we shouldn’t be overly annoyed or vexed if others have very opposing views to us. The key for me and I’m “right” in saying this 🙂 is that we should always communicate in love and respect, even in disagreement.

    The lesson the Good Lord is teaching (should really say trying to teach me) is that humility brings clarity (hmmm wasn’t going to put it that way but the Spirit led).

    Well I’ve mused enough…God bless us all as we prepare for Heaven. As a gifted soul once pointed out that the crisis of Faith is because too many of us focus all our life’s attention on earth and earthly things, forgetting that we’re made for heaven and won’t be here that much longer anyways.

    JESUS I Trust in You and Our Mum Mary…save souls.


    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks, AJ. One of the hardest things to learn is that each of us can actually be (eek!) wrong. Once we accept it and are not vested in always proving ourselves right, what peace comes – and what gentle appreciation for those who disagree with us well. I like to do a little mental exercise. Think of who you were 10 years ago. Do you believe all the very same things now that you did then – or have you learned a few things? Now think of yourself 10 years from now. Will you have learned a few new things by then or be stuck right where you are now? There are many things I don’t know that I hope to learn as I grow…but I am sure the best way to learn them is to avoid needless contention and be a sign of hope to those I meet along the way. How nice to share this pilgrim journey with interesting people with their eyes fixed on heaven, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Stephen Maresch says:

    But why doth “truth generate hatred,” and the man of thine preaching the truth, become an enemy to them? where as a happy life is loved, which is nothing else but joying in the truth; Unless that truth is in that kind loved, that they who love anything else would gladly have that which they love to be the truth. Because they would not be deceived, would not be convinced that they are so? Therefore they hate the truth for that thing’s sake which they loved instead of the truth.
    They love truth when; She enlightens, they hate her when; she reproves.
    For since they would not be decieved, and would decieve, they love her when; she discovers herself unto them. and hate her when she discovers them. -Saint Augustine-


  5. Charlene says:

    Dear Charlie,

    Thankyou for your incredible blog. It was via Mark Mallette’s blog that I found out about you. Thankyou for all that you and Mark and many others do via our Lords promptings. For as long as we are privileged to have theses blogs……my husband and I find great solace and peace from them. Especially living in a culture that is changing faster then I can take a single breath. We continue to pray for you and your family and friends. In Jesus Through Mary, Charlene


  6. Kathy AE says:

    I just ran across a letter written by Corrie Ten Boom in 1974 when she was 84 years old. The title? HOW TO PREPARE FOR TRIBULATION.
    The letter contains solid advice to Christians about preparing for the Great Tribulation. Corrie knew great tribulation firsthand, as she and her family were imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for sheltering Jews during the Holocaust.
    I belong to a little Covenant Community called LOVE CRUCIFIED. [This is a community of victim souls.] The message tonight after our rosary? “Prepare–the Storm is upon us.” Spiritual preparation. I don’t have the funds or means at this time to gather material goods or to think about refuges. Like so many others of you, I am at the center of family who are weak in faith. Charlie, your message rings so true to me: “Trust God. Take the next right step. Be a beacon of hope to those around you ” This the message of preparation which I am freely passing on. Our only true refuge is in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. We may have simple human anxiety, but deep in our souls, we should enjoy peace because we live in the Will of God 24/7. Believe this–nothing can happen outside of the Will of God. Abandon yourself to it. What crucifies us will also be our greatest joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June1 says:

      Kathy AE, I absolutely LOVE this part of the article you linked:

      “When I was a little girl, “ I said, “I went to my father and said, “Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need—just in time…”

      Would you consider posting it on Peli’s site, as well? I think many would draw strength from this. I know I will (especially when you see what I just posted there… uncanny:D )!


  7. Kathy AE says:

    See also Mark Mallett: “I Will Be Your Refuge” —


  8. Charlie,

    I want to thank you for all you do. Thank you for reminding me of St Therese’s little way. Now that I am on disability at age 54, I had started to feel I needed to do more even though I have a husband who needs my prayers and support, two elderly parents at home, and a house guest, her child and their pets living with us. I also have my oldest son staying with us too who really needs prayer and guidance. I am so grateful to you for sharing your wisdom and guidance.

    May God bless your endeavors in a mighty way.



    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks Alexandra (I love the exotic adventure that name hints at, too. Sounds like a mysterious woman you would meet on a deep exploration into the pyramids of Egypt or a safari into a lost world!) My first spiritual director was a man of often extraordinary insight and wisdom. He was not comfortable with visitations, locutions, visions and such and would have directed me away from it if he could have – but also was a man of first-rate integrity and was persuaded that something authentic was happening with me (something that for some mysterious reason, he thought, God afflicted him with, knowing full well he did not care for dealing with such things.) At one visit, he told me that he suspected that God did, Indeed, have an extraordinary mission set aside for me – but that even if that turned out to be the case, that is not where my salvation lie. That whatever else God might call me to, my salvation lie primarily with how I loved and nurtured those souls that God put in my care for a time, so that must always be my priority. I was raising two children on my own at the time. How that advice resonated within me!

      I treat that priest as a “director emeritus.” Knowing how uncomfortable he always was with these things, I did not copy him on the general messages I sent to his successors working with me. About three years or so ago, he complained that I was not properly keeping informed. I told him in surprise I did not because the other two kept me well covered and I thought my stuff made him very uncomfortable. “It does,” he barked. “But it irritates me when you don’t keep me informed.” I laughed and told him fine, I would make him uncomfortable rather than irritate him. Sometimes caring for the souls around you is a tougher task than it looks!


  9. Bob says:

    I know about the new age stuff in many spiritual direction programs. I once finished a so called spiritual direction certificate and was introduced to things like “centering prayer”, Enneagram, labrynth and other odd ideas and thank God over time I learned that centering prayer thing was not right and seemed to be more like self hypnosis than prayer so I left it. God was so good to me in guiding me as some I had known during that time had gotten badly off track and some have never come back.


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