Priests, fellow companions – WeekNews

There third monograph of the magazine Presbyters is dedicated to spiritual accompaniment (here). Not only with the intention of reiterating the importance of spiritual accompaniment or of encouraging the priest to be trained for this precious service. The issue aims to “look at the priest as the recipient of spiritual accompaniment, trying to grasp the reasons why it is worth undertaking and remaining faithful to him and the many resistances that are an obstacle. An effective spiritual accompaniment, capable of attention and reading of the different phases of human and spiritual growth, is the privileged place of discernment to understand where and how the Holy Spirit leads life and to accompany the path (not taken for granted) of the faith of the presbyter. “. We publish theeditorial signed by Don Nico Dal Molin.

“At that time Jesus called the twelve to him and began to send them out in pairs” (Mk 6: 7). The text of Mark’s call clearly states that the disciples are sent on a “two by two” mission. The same expression is also present in Luke (10: 1), although in a different context such as the mission of the “seventy-two disciples.”[1]

It is true that the sobriety of the text does not tell us how the two disciples lived the relationship between them. However, it is a suggestive provocation to remind us that ordained ministry is not a solitary and isolated adventure, but always and in any case is situated in the dynamics of the relationship, of the company.

Perhaps Mark’s text also implies the fact that two of us can better protect ourselves from dangers. Qoelet already suggested that “it is better to be two than one” (Qo 4: 9). Being in two gives strength and credibility to the witness who, in order to be valid, had to be based on at least two witnesses (cf. Deut 19:15). Above all, not being alone is essential to being able to live relationships, communion and charity.

The strength of a friend and a Word

The mission of the priest – today it is even more evident – does not consist above all in the activity, only in “doing” for the others, but it is necessary to move more and more the center of gravity of the pastoral service towards a relational perspective.

The fraternity of the envoys is the first witness that certifies the goodness of going to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. The first announcement that the disciples bring with them is the gesture of their communion, it is the victory over the temptation of loneliness.

The choice Jesus proposes to his followers certainly has a strong motivational value. It doesn’t really seem convenient, because by traveling individually they would surely have reached more destinations. It doesn’t even seem so effective; a larger group could have had a more direct and provocative impact on the public.

The “two” is the number of the relationship, from the origins of creation. Duality means difference and otherness, but also need, reciprocity and sharing. The two is the number that surpasses selfishness and self-referentiality, but is not lost on impersonal mass or group dynamics. Two people look into each other’s eyes, not three or twelve, not alone.[2]

And the disciples leave only with the strength of a friend and a Word.

Being in company is more than not being alone, because what is concrete is sharing. It is a deeply ecclesial experience: “There are many members, but only one is the body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you”; nor from head to toe: “I do not need you” (1 Cor 12: 20-21).

In the Church, but it is valid for all spheres of human life, we are sent to each other to help each other. The companions of the way that the Lord puts by our side are essential figures for each of us. With them you can share the bread of loneliness and friendship, doubt and confidence, fatigue and serenity. In the context of a synodal path in which our Churches are engaged, it would be important to ask ourselves again, “What do I receive from others that help me understand and choose the good things in life?”

The dimension of confrontation and relationality is essential in the priest’s mission because it fosters verification, encouragement, fraternal correction, and puts a barrier to the narcissistic intoxication of the ego that is never blamed for mistakes or sins. Perhaps, precisely because of this, in the Acts of the Apostles Luke is so insistent on narrating the missions of Paul and Barnabas, of Paul and Silas, of Barnabas and Mark …

Two by two, not only, at least one friend in whom to support the heart when the heart is lacking; in pairs, to support each other; two by two, as a curtain of light for the presence of Jesus, because where two or three are united in my name there I am.[3]

Accompanied escorts

It is the title of an essay by the monk Guidalberto Bormolini. Awakening this awareness requires creating opportunities and experiences, places and people that facilitate discussion and are available for accompaniment. Bormolini, even with a focus specific about the accompanying relationship in the latter part of life, some suggest entrance benefits for each accompaniment path.

The accompaniment is not aimed at a practical result, but at the “beauty of care in itself, which every living thing deserves.” It is essential that the companion take care of his own interiority, “have the necessary inner freedom, and establish an indispensable deep communion.”

This dimension is well specified by modern relational psychology; is defined connection (connection), so a real experience of authenticity is possible within meaningful relationships that promote integration between autonomy and relationality.[4]

The path of accompaniment begins by conveying to those who are accompanied a fundamental principle: “I am interested in you because you are important.” That is why there can be no “clear distinction between companion and companion”; it is rather a multiple relationship in which the benefit is for both, as “aid is inserted into a network of universal good, which involves both the donor and the recipient of the company’s gift.” .[5]

Wise accompaniment

“Wisdom is a spirit that loves man” (Sab 1: 6). It is from this sapiential lightness that every human and spiritual journey is needed, attentive to all the dimensions of the person: otherness, understood as immersion in a fabric of relationships; temporality, to place each person in the context of their personal history, made of memory, awareness and vision of the future; progressiveness, which sees that every human person is not destined for passive and resigned immobility, but projects it into a trail of “patient dynamism”.

In the text of Sirach 38,31-39,11 the sage is described as the architect who designs and plans the work to build a city. In the second book of Samuel (14, 17-20) the sage identifies with “the angel of God” who directs and guides the election, like the archangel Raphael who, under the disguise of his friend Azariah, guide in a cunning way. and wise the dangerous way of Tobias.

The prophet Ezekiel (27: 8), with a suggestive metaphor, describes the sage as a helmsman able to steer the boat, looking at the compass in the dark sky of the storm or scrutinizing the stars in the sky on clear, clear nights. .

By contrast, the prophet Isaiah (3: 3) says what the wise should not be or do. Contextualizing the situation of deep anarchy in which Jerusalem lives, the prophet compares the false scholar with a magician who draws from the turns of his magic wand only a fatuous and empty illusionism, which permeates words and attitudes.

“That is why I prayed and he gave me prudence, I begged and the spirit of wisdom entered me (…). He loved her more than health and beauty, he preferred to have her before the light, because the splendor that comes from her never fades ”(Sab 7,7-10).

A wise teacher increases the ability to look up, going beyond looking at oneself. Victor Frankl, a Viennese psychologist, defines this dimension as the rediscovery of a “psychology of heights”, which does not oppose but integrates the precious contribution of depth psychology. An application to the spiritual path can become very generating and fruitful.

A sapiential reading allows those who have lost the historical meaning of their motivational roots and suffer from amnesia to continue the search, giving hope to those who no longer know how to find the “theological and teleological” meaning of their own vocational choice.

The path of wisdom as a conversion of the heart

“It takes a lifetime to learn to live; therefore, do not be surprised if no one has ever learned. It is an expression that refers to an aphorism of Lucius Anneus Seneca, the Stoic philosopher of the imperial era of ancient Rome.

On the one hand, it is an invitation to lower the bar of high expectations that each of us may have of ourselves and that can be transferred into interpersonal relationships to the point of making them demanding and possessive. On the other hand, it can help reduce the naive childhood fantasies of omnipotence.

A path of personal accompaniment can calm and heal that narcissistic wound, often unhealed, that bleeds within us and that we can touch, sometimes painfully, in the face of the feeling of inadequacy and precariousness that has never enveloped the ministry as in recent months . .presbyteral. A path of sapiential accompaniment can become an experience of conscience human and spiritual (consciousness), which makes one more willing and able to indulge in the action of the Holy Spirit.

It becomes an opportunity to learn to “expropriate” one’s role, to live more densely that value that guided the choice of life: to follow the Lord Jesus. “Nevertheless we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor 4: 7). Instead of complaining about the tribulations he suffered, which continually put him to the test, Paul states that his personal vulnerability, which he was continually forced to face, proved essential to his mission.

Fragility does not in any way harm the proclamation of the Gospel, but is the guarantee of it. The failures of the ministry are not the failure of the ministry, where the failure itself can become a time of growth and a precious contribution to one’s own salvation and that of others. It is a path of realistic acceptance of situations and feelings in which fatigue, disappointment, and mistrust prevail without becoming an easy justification for evading responsibilities.

It is the price to be paid to humanity itself, which can be transformed into a concrete opportunity to reevangelize one’s life in the light of the healing Word of Jesus, a profound connoisseur and healer of the human heart.

God free me from the wisdom that does not cry, from the philosophy that does not laugh, from the pride that does not bow before a child. God save me from the man who proclaims himself the torch that illuminates the path of humanity. Welcome to the man who seeks his way in the light of others (Gibran Kahlil).[6]


[1] Cf. «Fraternity and friendship in the life of the priest», in Presbyters 2020/10 (Editorial).

[2] Annalisa Guida, «The mission of the twelve», in The GospelsAnchor, Milan 2015.

[3] Ermes Ronchi, “Where we see deserts, God sees opportunity», En FutureJuly 4, 2019.

[4] Cf. Susan Harter, The construction of the Self. Fundamentals of development and sociocultural(Prologue by William M. Bukowski), Guilford Press, New York 2012 (2nd ed.).

[5] Guidalberto Bormolini, Accompanied escorts. Leading to life through deathEMP, Padua 2020.

[6] Gibran Kahlil Gibran, The voice of the master (full edition by Tommaso Pisanti), Newton Compton, Rome 2020.

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