Have you ever accompanied somebody on a trip somewhere where you weren’t expressly required or recommended, just to provide a positive presence? Or maybe you’ve been on the other side where a loved one has joined you on a mission to do something that they can’t help with, but you were just thankful that they were there with you?
That is the idea behind accompaniment, having somebody to walk alongside us during our times of difficulty and pain and guide us. Every day, suffering people arrive at the conclusion that this fight for God is not worth it because they feel alone. Accompaniment allows us to meet people where they are in their trials and remind them that they are not only not alone, but that they are loved and supported.
Father Sam Martin joined Josh on The Inner Life to talk about the importance of accompaniment, what it means to be an instrument of God, and why prayer is foundational to becoming a virtuous companion to others.
Father Sam began by discussing why this concept is not only helpful and important but necessary for our journey. There are no “spiritual Lone Rangers” as he called it, saying that loneliness is something that 99% of us struggle with, but it is ultimately a choice. Accompaniment can come in many forms, like the fidelity between a husband and wife, the loyalty between friends, the obedience between a priest and his bishop, and the accountability needed between a spiritual director and the one whom he directs.
The people around us, who might not be the easiest to love or accompany, are in a position of need for this just as much as we are. Recognizing that we may have apprehensions about those around us probably says more about our own shortcomings than about them. Giving up our pride in those situations is what makes us a complete conduit of God’s work.
All we have to do is imagine ourselves in the position of somebody else dealing with their motley of experiences, situations, and emotions to recognize that at times, they may be just as helpless as us.
“If we really have found ourselves in a position where we are in need of help, it brings that humility into our lives,” said Josh. “And I think that can make us more apt to step forward and want to help somebody.”
As valiant as it may be to heed this call and want to join others in their struggles, it’s not as easy as waking up one day and going for it, especially if we’re trying to help somebody with spiritual troubles. Without a solid foundation of prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual direction of our own, we’d be like a blind person leading another blind person. It’s not an accident that people start living according to God’s will and we can’t sleepwalk our way into accompanying others to do the same.
Without prayer, our attempts to console, guide, and celebrate others will be treated as an opportunity for the devil to find its way into our endeavors. Josh recalled a story of a married man who was an authority in a non-Catholic Church. This man was trying to console a widow who had recently lost her husband. Without the right direction or capabilities in mind, he got emotionally involved and ended up having an affair with the widow. He ended up admitting everything and breaking it off, but enough damage was done. Though his intentions were pure, the devil is in the details.
That’s why we can never rest on our laurels in times of peace or prosperity. With the help of an active prayer life and the consistent reception of the sacraments, we can stay on our guard and prolong the presence of God’s life in us and those around us.
In the same vein as that famous quote from G. Michael Hopf’s Those Who Remain, Pope Pius XII used to thank God that we live in the times that we do because it doesn’t allow for any of us to become mediocre. We are charged with a duty to become good, strong people and the answer to that call begins with our devotion to Christ.
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