The Art of Accompaniment Book | Page 27

What is Accompaniment? 17 of the life of the resurrection, we, for our part, can work generous- ly to help him build his kingdom in this world, by bringing his message, his light, and above all his love, to others (cf. Jn 15:16). The disciples heard Jesus calling them to be his friends. It was an invitation that did not pressure them, but gently appealed to their freedom. “Come and see,” Jesus told them; so “they came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day” ( Jn 1:39). After that unexpected and moving encounter, they left everything and followed him. (Christus Vivit, 153) Spiritual friendship is a dimension of accompaniment that can be described as walking with another towards Christ. The first step of this journey be- gins with an invitation spoken by another through the Holy Spirit: “Come and See.” Like two friends who travel together, this spiritual journey is not undertaken in a silent and stoic way; rather, the spiritual journey continues through the sharing of experiences, has a character of warmth and tender- ness, and involves catching sight of the action of God in the lives of one another. To accompaniment, spiritual friendship brings a mutual discovery of the joy of the Christian life. Mutuality distinguishes accompaniment from other styles of formation and evangelization. This style requires the mentor to regard the one they accompany as equal dialogue partners in the journey of faith. Mentors must listen to the needs and desires of those accompanied with an openness to their unique experiences and perspectives of lived faith. In this sense, the apostolate of accompaniment is formative for both mentor and the one ac- companied, as it is informed by the movement of the Spirit within their life experiences. Therefore, the goal of accompaniment is not a perfect and seamless life without questions or irregularities; rather, it is a school of vir- tue in which the accompanying relationship cultivates gradual progression in holiness according to the mysteries and complexities of life and personal experiences. This mutual dialogue between mentor and the one accompa- nied is a “a pedagogy which will introduce people step by step to the full appropriation of the mystery” (Ecclesia in Asia, 20). Accompaniment is an apostolate of listening, response, dialogue, and gentleness that does not seek to do violence to the soul in the name of living without challenges or sensi- tive situations. It imitates the divine pedagogy that, above all, respects the dignity of the human person and seeks to increase their freedom to respond to the all-encompassing love of God within their life.