Experiencing Pastoral Accompaniment
An authentic and credible faith in a humanely gracious God manifests itself in the empathetic pastoral ministry to God’s people. In this broad and at the same time concrete sense, every Christian is called upon to pastoral care.
What is the specific task of the pastoral minister/worker? What is the scope of the church’s service to accompany the flock ? Where and how does pastoral accompaniment take place? It can happen anywhere: in the privacy of your home, in the parish rectory, in the open air or in a church pew.
Talking out and listening in a free atmosphere
What is so special about pastoral conversation/counseling except for the fact that it's free of charge? At first glance, the answer may surprise you - it's the open-endedness. The pastoral conversation does not pursue any therapeutic agenda. Thus, it offers you, if need be, a wider room to talk your heart out and listen to each other. You don’t expect instant miracles in such an open conversation, but sometimes the experience of empathy and encouragement facilitates a sort of miracle «as if holding a bird out of the hand» (Hilde Domin). The real contribution of pastoral care is the sustained and silent accompaniment in solidarity with the people in sorrow and joy, through all the questions which defy answers. It is wonderful when such a graced moment in pastoral solidarity happens, as St. Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote: «Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep» (Romans 12:15)
Helping people help themselves and the professional boundaries of pastoral ministry
In a pastoral counseling setting, there are no taboo subjects, but rather professional limitations which imply consulting or referring to another professional. This becomes clear in some cases only after one or two encounters. Pastoral care has its place in the broad field of life-coaching that always understands its role as helping people help themselves. From the religious point of view, this means we trust that God walks with everyone along each unique way and knows how to lead us to new paths. The path can sometimes be a spiral or winding road which requires a lot of perseverance.
Inalienable dignity of man
But perhaps much is gained when in such a situation the seed of faith grows, faith in the inalienable dignity of the human being amidst the fallenness of the human condition. From the very beginning the Bible addresses every person and unconditionally confers upon him or her the dignity of being created in God's image. This foundational biblical insight can easily be forgotten. It is important for us to constantly re-connect and regain our bearings with this biblical wisdom.
Wherever you are now, struggling to connect the dots of your life and to find your way back to our sacred roots, we are here for you! Please turn to the English-speaking pastoral care workers in your parish for assistance!