What is Spiritual Accompaniment?

(I am continuing to rescue some materials from the defunct Loyola Hall site — this is a sketch of the kind of spiritual accompaniment offered in the contemplative mode)

spiral staircase

We define Christian spiritual direction as help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.

William A. Barry, SJ and William J. Connolly, SJ in “The Practice of Spiritual Direction”

Spiritual accompaniment is the help one person gives to another as she or he pays conscious attention to their relationship with God.

Traditionally, this kind of help has been called spiritual direction but at Loyola Hall we more often use the term spiritual accompaniment which helps us indicate something broader and yet something quite specific. Spiritual accompaniment covers a wide range of related activities such as informal spiritual conversation, ongoing spiritual direction, ‘weeks’ of guided prayer in various settings, individually-guided retreats, and giving the Spiritual Exercises in different forms.

In such a broad spectrum there are obviously differences of emphasis and some practices require particular additional skills. Nevertheless, we believe there is a specific art or practice which is present in them all and we call it spiritual accompaniment.

Spiritual accompaniment is a particular kind of listening and helping activity which focuses on a person’s implicit or explicit relationship with God and seeks to nurture it. All of us have experiences which are felt as  ‘spiritual’ — whether they take place washing dishes, climbing mountains, attending church, or in silent prayer — and whether or not they are barely perceptible or earth shaking. Spiritual accompaniment pays attention to these experiences and lets them develop and deepen so that they become part of a continuing dialogue with God.

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