The Art of Accompaniment Book | Page 26

16 The Art of Accompaniment Witnessing Witnessing is another dimension of spiritual accompaniment. Wit- nessing can be effective even if a deep, committed relationship is not yet formed between the mentor and the one accompanied. Essential to passing on authentic Christian faith, witnessing demonstrates an example of an integrated Christian life within the one who witnesses. The Church holds that witnessing is “the first means of evangelization” (Evangelii Nuntian- di, 41). Like the saints who accompany us on the journey of faith in their examples of Christ-like living, those who witness can accompany from a distance. Those who provide their witness include the saints next door, those holy people who walk with the faithful in the present. As Pope Francis says: I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church mili- tant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness. (Gaudete et Exsultate, 7) Witnesses are essential to the process of spiritual accompaniment because, “[m]odern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nun- tiandi, 41). Spiritual Friendship Spiritual friendship gives accompaniment a character of mutuality, ten- derness, and reciprocity. This relationship of accompaniment reflects Jesus’ own invitation of friendship to each of God’s people: Friendship is so important that Jesus calls himself a friend: “I do not call you servants any longer, but I call you friends” ( Jn 15:15). By the gift of his grace, we are elevated in such a way that we truly become his friends. With the same love that Christ pours out on us, we can love him in turn and share his love with others, in the hope that they too will take their place in the community of friendship he established. And even as he enjoys the complete bliss