What is "The Art of Accompaniment"? Some Concerns About Another Phrase Emerging From the Synod

111614One of the events at last week’s meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was a first-hand summary of the Roman (extraordinary) Synod on the family by several bishops who attended. It would appear, as related by Archbishop Kurtz,  that a certain expression emerged at the Synod that is meant to convey a kind of pastoral strategy. That phrase is the “art of accompaniment.” Of itself, the phrase both makes sense and has value. In life, we must all learn, individually and collectively, to walk with people, to accompany them on their journey, to find them where they are, hear their concerns, and (it is to be hoped) have some role in assisting them to walk better with Christ.

Of course it is that last point that is critical and makes me wonder if “the art of accompaniment” is a strong enough pastoral strategy for times like these when the world is so deeply confused and many in the Church are so vague about announcing the truth unambiguously.  (I expressed similar concerns about another pastoral strategy emerging from the Synod, called “gradualism,” in an earlier blog post.) The phrase “art of accompaniment” sounds more like a carefully crafted “value-free” neutral strategy aimed more at listening than at teaching or exhorting. One hardly thinks, when hearing “the art of accompaniment,” of a heraldic, prophetic Church sounding the trumpet in Zion, or crying out with the voice of John the Baptist or Jesus, “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!”

Surely accompaniment is an essential ingredient of any pastoral strategy. But, in a way, that goes without saying. Obviously one has to accompany another in order to teach or to have influence. Relationship of some sort is essential for there to be teaching or influence. But accompaniment for accompaniment’s sake is not really a pastoral strategy. Our goal cannot merely be to accompany; it must be to teach, to lead, and to change people’s lives through sanctifying them in the truth and with the Sacraments. The pastoral “duties” of the Church, and especially of her clergy, is to teach, govern, and sanctify, not merely to accompany. I am just not sure that the “art of accompaniment” captures this or is strong enough.

To be sure, Jesus DOES manifest accompaniment. The whole incarnation manifests accompaniment as does his “table-fellowship” in “eating and drinking with sinners.” But Jesus does not merely eat with sinners or become incarnate. He does that in order to lead, to proclaim, to teach, to govern, to sanctify, to summon to repentance, to bestow mercy to the penitent. An example, almost in picture form, of what Jesus does is in the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As the story opens, two disciples are walking in the wrong direction (away from Jerusalem).  The text says,

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them … And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” (Lk 24:16-17)

So he does accompany them. But note that he is not there just to walk alongside them. He is there to lead them and convert them, literally by turning them around and back to Jerusalem and the Church, gathered. Hence, no sooner do they explain their sorrow and reveal their erroneous thinking, than Jesus says,

O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (LK 24:26-27).

Now if this is what is meant by the use of the phrase “the art of accompaniment,” fine. But I suspect it is not. Those who speak this phrase, or hear it, probably do not have in mind vigorous retort and clear unambiguous teaching, let alone phrases like “O foolish men …” Jesus, in this walk of accompaniment, unambiguously holds up the necessity of the Cross and insists that they come to see things differently. He makes his case vigorously. These men are in error and He tells them so. It is their error that is the cause not only of their sorrow, but also of their “traveling wrong.” Jesus isn’t so much accompanying here as He is leading; He is guiding; He is teaching, definitively.

Again, if the reader will pardon me, I am just not sure that those who use the phrase, “the art of accompaniment” mean most, if any of this. I pray, too, that the reader does not understand me to be questioning the good Archbishop Kurtz, whom I understand to be reporting the deliberations of the Synod. I have no idea where he stands on the wisdom (or not) of such  a phrase or pastoral stance.

Why am I skeptical that such a phrase is either helpful or really sincere as a way of drawing souls to Christ and the truth of the Gospel? I guess it is context. We are NOT living in times when clear and decisive teaching are common among the clergy or other leaders in the Church (such as parents). Pulpits are far too silent. Clergy and parents are generally quite timid and unwilling to engage the controversial issues of our day with clear teaching and decisive refutation.

The last thing we need in this kind of pastoral climate is a vague pastoral strategy like “the art of accompaniment.” Really, what does this even mean? After we’ve started walking with folks (and who says we haven’t been), then what? Where are the calls to study the faith actively and vigorously, yet charitably defend it to a skeptical world? Don’t just accompany, teach! And though we need to listen to people’s objections and concerns, we also need to have an answer.

There is a time and a place to be “in listening mode.” But the problem today is that we have forgotten what “teaching mode” is, at least in its more active, urgent, edgy, and summoning sense.  If the truth sets us free, and it does, then the truth is like medicine, and we should promote vigorously, insisting on its necessity. But, at least collectively, we sound more like salesmen uncertain and unconvinced of the medicine we promote. Our “teaching mode” is shy, suggestive, and even apologetic (in the weak sense of the word). Confident teaching is too rare today. In such a climate, the “art of accompaniment” becomes a silent or barely suggestive walk with another. They need and deserve more from Christ’s disciples and from His Church.

Analogy – If I go to the doctor with gangrene and the doctor says, “I affirm you, my brother. I am with you on your journey!” I’m gonna say, “Fine, Doc, that’s really nice. But affirmation and accompaniment are not what I need most. I need you to take my gangrene seriously and work actively to cure it before I lose my leg, or worse!” But too many clergy, and Christians in general, are mere back-slappers who promise prayers but really have little to say about the sins, errors, and lies that are the spiritual gangrene of our day.

Something in me prefers the more edgy advice of a radical, prophetic pastor named St. Paul, who charged Timothy and the rest of us clergy:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:1-4).

46 Replies to “What is "The Art of Accompaniment"? Some Concerns About Another Phrase Emerging From the Synod”

  1. I love your analogy, Monsignor Pope.

    It reminds me of our failure in relationships…. we ought to support
    and encourage one another; we ought to assist others in getting to heaven,
    To support each other through life’s ups and downs, and to protect our souls,
    From the darkness. We ought to be lights, being selfless and loving and kind.
    What happens to Patience? Understanding? Forgiveness? Love?

  2. I think pro-life sidewalk counselors understand something about the “art of accompaniment.” If you’re not smooth and dove-like, you will be threatened or physically attacked before you can speak. Accompany, non-threateningly, and preferably far away from the clinic escorts who also know how to accompany, and then deliver unadulterated truth with a smile and an encouraging voice, imparting facts about the parents’ situation and about God’s providence. You have about 10-15 seconds. Of course, this is often much easier to do with strangers than with those we get to collaborate every day. Sometimes the best “accompaniment” is to serve generously with them at work, but to decline their lunch invitations, to send the clear message that you find their leisure interests deplorable.

    1. Yes, and here too may be another concern of mine related to the issue. The art of accompaniment may be a better, even necessary personal strategy, but does not work well as an ecclesial or organizational strategy. I had the same reservation with the “gradualism” issue.

  3. What’s wrong with established terminology with already well-defined meanings from within a familiar doctinal context? The phrase sounds too much to me like another with loaded cold-war era meanings, “fellow travelers”.

  4. Political correctness. Yes, that invented couple of words is now the norm everywhere such that we are not allowed anymore to say the right words to direct anyone to the ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of GOD and HIS Righteousness.’ Yes, we have become timid, afraid that people will come after us, confronting us and telling us ‘who are you and what right have you to impose your thoughts on me?’ It is now the norm everywhere that we are not allowed to engage in a conversation anyone about politics or religion, passe they say. We are rather accepted if we talk of cliche movie, television or sport flimsies. Yes, Monsignor, to apply this another invented ‘art of accompaniment’ without the ‘teaching mode’ is like a parent applying a democracy on a toddler. At this point in our culture, we have regressed and accepted just about any gullible ideas of the world and The Church must uphold Our LORD’s Teachings energetically pure and simple. YHWH SHEKINAH!!!

  5. What strikes me is the notion that this art of accompaniment seems to be aimed at folks who currently feel excluded and are not going to Mass. I would posit that there are a great many in the pews, today, who could also benefit from this. It’s all in the messaging which should be something to the effect of “You are welcomed in our parish community. We really want you to be able to receive the Eucharist. Here is what needs to happen in order for that to happen. In the interim, there are benefits to participating in the Mass and in the parish community.”

    I would love to hear a priest say before the distribution of communion, “If you haven’t been to confession, please consider whether now is really the right time to receive the blessed sacrament which in addition to being the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ is also a public statement that you are in full communion with everything the Church teaches.”

    1. I think that would backfire. It would encourage rather than discourage the rebellious and defiant.

      1. I agree with you, David Jackson. If the TRUTH cannot be told
        because it might “backfire” thats not a reason to not be honest.
        We have to tell the truth….no matter what. Even Jesus was crucified
        And left almost alone….

    2. I hear variations on that occasionally at my parish. But then, there is occasionally a priest hearing confessions during Mass at my (suburban Maryland) parish, which is also unusual.

      What we want, I think, is for Catholics to know, understand, and take seriously the laws governing reception of the Eucharist. That’s likely to involve a behavioral change, even among those who do happen to be in a state of grace from week to week. Homilies may be a better time for the priest to address this than immediately before distribution of Communion.

      A word before distribution may not be out of place (assuming it’s permitted liturgically), but it should be spoken in the context of a catechized community and with some care for how it might strike the scrupulous.

  6. I think we are missing an attitude of service. While accompaniment is important–we have to walk alongside our brothers and sisters, we do them no service by accepting their sin. In the end, we want to be in heaven with God, and we can not tolerate God’s presence if we are guilty of sin (Thank God for purgatory). So if we allow our brothers and sisters to sin without admonishment, then we leave them at risk. I want the people I love to go to heaven. I want to spend eternity rejoicing with them in the goodness of God. This is where my priest would talk about the important concept of holding two things in tension. While we want what is best for our friends and family, we also must accompany them where they are. I agree that the concepts of accompaniment and gradualism are dangerous. But they are mostly dangerous because of our own tepidness and temerity. It is an easy out for those of us who are weak in our faith. To say that we are approaching our brethren to meet them where they are. Unfortunately, this may look a lot like condoning sinful behavior. If we are passionate about our faith, we can walk with our brothers and sisters and accompany them at the same time admonishing them perhaps not by our words but with our lives. I know that God can work miracles. Sometimes it is very slowly. At the time of my marriage, I attended no church and had no religious upbringing and my husband was a lapsed Catholic. We were married by a public minister with no faith. Through a long and winding path, I am a Catholic, my children attend Catholic school, and I attend mass weekly. I have been surrounded by people of faith who called me to a better life. They were not all perfect, but they went to church and tried to live the gospel. My family taught anger, bitterness and vengefulness, but through God’s family, I learned forgiveness, charity, and love. My life is so much fuller because of God. I can only thank Him for His deliverance. I think we have to try and act as Jesus. We must be loving and forgiving, but we also must not tolerate sin. This is very, very hard, but if we have faith, God can work miracles. I think this will look different for each of us, and I wouldn’t presume to judge for someone else what they can accept. It is possible that we will lose relationships because of taking a stand against fornication or adultery, but if we remain open, God may bring that relationship back to us stronger and deeper than ever. God loves us and wants what is best for us, and with faith, we can move mountains.

  7. Amen, Msgr. Pope, excellent! I wish we had more pastors like you who want to “accompany” us to heaven and not on our slide to hell. I’ve come to detest this phrase, as I have “gradualism”. To me, it sounds more like the church is to “accompany the sinner until she gradually understands how wrong she is about her doctrine” and we’re all in one big, happy, back-slapping, feel-good social club where we see no evil, hear no evil, much less correct any evil.

    Are priests supposed to be shepherds who guard and lead the sheep, or shepherds who listen to why the sheep love the edge of the cliff and enable their falling off it? There is a big difference between “smelling” like the sheep and “stinking” like the sheep.

    God bless you for being a true shepherd! It is a gift to be able to come to your blog for sound teaching.

  8. para. 29 of Sacramentum Caritatis says, “Yet the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life….” This is from Pope Benedict, so this is not a new concern, nor a ‘liberal’ take on our role. The problem is what spin gets put on accompaniment. Because of all the problems you correctly point out, perhaps it is good they are talking about it, and will move towards clarifying exactly how we should and should not interact with those who are lukewarm and doubtful.

  9. I remember when an unnamed university announced a special award to an unnamed president who up to that point showed very little interest in the protection and dignity that all human life deserves … but anyway the day after the university announced that it would give the award I was at a meeting with an unnamed bishop (archbishop actually) as the main speaker and the question of the appropriateness of giving this award to him came up from the audience. The archbishop spoke generally about catholic public officials who support un-catholic positions and what to do about it. He said that he has tried the behind the scenes, private, gentle approach for years and he has concluded: “It just doesn’t work”. He was frustrated. He sounded kinda beaten. Is this your reservations Monsignor?

  10. As with so many other things, the church seems to be adopting a feminine perspective on the issue. “Accompaniment” is more of a relational, feminine virtue, while “leadership” is more of a masculine virtue.

    There is certainly nothing wrong with “accompaniment.” It’s nice to have companions. It’s nice when someone “comes alongside to help.”

    But Jesus didn’t say “accompany me.” He said “follow me.”

  11. Monsignor,

    Wonderful post. I agree so much. Accompaniment seems to be the current popular message, but without Christ and total conversion, it is such poison. I firmly believe that is why so many people are like the are like the seed that fell in the rocks, accompaniment by itself provides no roots to grow in faith. People who find the message appealing, without proper teaching, become no better, undergo no conversion, and soon grow bored and tired with the faith because it lacks no depth to them. They have not fully encountered God. We are called as believers to finds the lost sheep and bring them home. To do this we must be rooted in Jesus Christ and the faith ourselves, but also challenge them to yearn for the greater glory of what God called them to be. Too often people say “who am I to judge?” (and no I am not taking about the Pope) with regards to people who are living contrary to God’s plan for them. And rightfully so, we are not called to judge the person, but set them straight and judgment of their actions is justified. Your analogy of gangrene is perfect, and as we know, it is worse to lose your soul than your leg. I think we as Catholics must preach all things Christ with vigor; justice and mercy, prayer and fasting, repentance and joy in God, and of course, the four last things, so that all people may know that by God they are called to something greater, eternal glory with God. That message must be sounded from the rooftops with trumpets daily.

    God Bless,


  12. I understand your concerns, but I can also see why the Synod is looking in that direction. For years, the clergy has ministered from a distance, pulpit only in some cases. I can honestly say I have never see one of my Parish Priests out walking in my neighborhood, and I literally live right across the street.

    Due to a lack of vocations or what have you, priests are few in number and cannot do the Church building work like St Paul did, living among and working alongside as they preach the Gospel.

    So I do understand the desire to get back out there, to accompany. Yet that will require major shifts in thinking and responsibilities across the Church. It will require courage in clergy and laity alike. It will require great faith.

    The danger is in identifying with the sin and not the sinner. Jesus did not condone prostitution. He affirmed the love of God for the prostitute. He was clear in purpose and message. He did not call the sinners to the temple to hear Him speak, He walked among them wherever they were. He met them where they were weakest, in their shame and guilt and lifted them with His word. He showed them love where they were most unlovable.

  13. The term that we really need to hear more often from the pulpit is “counter-cultural”. The prophets of the Old Testament were all counter-cultural, St. John the Baptist was counter-cultural, Jesus was counter-cultural (even though He occasionally seems to have been a little more accommodating than the others). The devious phrase “art of accompaniment” reminds me of an old proverb, “if you want to sup with the devil you need a long spoon”. In this time and age, the Church’s spoon must be very long indeed.

  14. Another thought: Rather than the art of accompaniment, shouldn’t the Church practice the art of counterpoint?

  15. I read your page and often agree. This time I think of the art of accompaniment as being present or available to people. I live in a parish that is 640 square miles in size and our parish priest cannot be present to most of the people, so it moves to the laity to accompany one-another. In that sense I feel my accompaniment is aimed at supporting an individual as s/he tries to find his/her way back to church and then to spriest. It doesn’t mean for me that I am do not “speak” the truth, but that I try to speak it in a way that is heard. I try to show acceptance of the person, not the sin to the best of my ability. In a time of shrinking priestly vocations I think that accompaniment is what we as laity can do – that is accompany the person back to the church where the priest can then take over.

  16. The problem with much of Christian witness is not bigotry, but smallotry. When we make ourselves too big in our own eyes, we become bigots, but when we make God too small in our own eyes–too small to save, too small to heal, too small to change lives–then we are worse than a bigot, because the bigot speaks what is sometimes the truth but never in love, while the smallot speaks what is sometimes in love but never the truth.

  17. Amen Msgr Pope,
    As an Evangelist in the Catholic Church I find more and more people leaving the Mega feel good accompany churches to find a more true Church. The last young man, 23 years old, I talked to left the ELCA church because they have forgotten to remind the sheep that they stray. He, and many like him, have chosen our Catholic Church because we walk with them in their faith, remind them of their sins and show them how to have eternal life.

    I have said before we are among those that want to bring change to the truth, those that want the Catholic church to be touchy feely like so many other faiths that are turning from the light. Many church leaders have forgotten that reminder is not Judgement, it is helping one to be made worthy of the promise of Christ, many have fallen short of what Mathew reminds us to do. Mathew 18:15-17

    A Brother Who Sins.* “If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

    So how can I tell those leaders in the Church my neighbor has sinned if all they want to do is water down the message that Jesus gave us. I would suggest that the powers that be get all of the Catholic church on the same page or the teachings will become more convoluted as the years go on.

    Praying for you

  18. In our “politically correct” society, especially in the DC area, words have always been important. Best not to use strong words that everyone understands as it might be offensive to someone. Look at the abortion issue.
    Everyone makes a “choice” to have or not have an abortion. The “choice” is for life or for death of the child. It is not about “choice”. Yet the people who wanted abortion to be accepted, found the word “choice” to be more appealing, more acceptable than pro-death, which is truthful. So to say one is pro-choice is more politically correct than saying one is pro-death.
    Language can be manipulated depending on how it is presented.
    What exactly is meant by “the art of accompaniment”?
    Msgr., your comments are excellent as this question is discussed. The meaning of this phase needs to be defined for the Faithful so we can fulfill our obligations. And once defined, there should not be any question, so those politically minded people will not be able to manipulate the meaning.

  19. No cleric accompanied me after my wife abandoned our marriage. None will.

    That, Father Pope, is my reality.

    A quarter century of abandonment, except for the adulterers who are still
    welcomed as husband and wife.

    1. Karl, what is it you are looking for? Your wife’s actions are not your responsibility. If she chose to walk away, she has that on her soul for all eternity.

      But you are responsible for YOUR choices. You chose your wife. You chose to promise before God to honor your vows in good times and bad, for better or worse. Welcome to worse, my friend.

      Is your word, your oath before God only good as long as you are getting something out of it? What if the tables were turned? What if God chose to break His promise of everlasting love and abandon you when you sinned? I mean, after all, what does He get out of your sin?

      You were never promised a rose garden and were not called to a life of ease and luxury. You were called to be a Christian and that usually involves some sacrafice or suffering. Rather than fight it and make life miserable for yourself, bless it and open yourself to all the things He has given you.

      Once you learn to stop focusing on what isn’t there, you will see a whole lot of good that is. God doesn’t disappoint. That’s a human thing.

      One person abandoned you. Don’t project her mistake on to the Church. Give away what you feel you are missing and you will receive it back a hundredfold.

      1. I find your comment deeply offensive. You are acting as an apologist for a Church whose focus is on finding
        nullity by openly encouraging divorces in a country whose law is no fault divorce. An innocent spouse cannot
        defend their marriage, themselves or their children.

        I have no intention of slugging it out with you. Monsignor Pope is not likely to appreciate it.

    2. Karl, my deepest sympathy to you, as I too know a little bit about abandonment. But
      Alas, im grateful for the capacity of Love andForgiveness.

      I imagine your frustration at not being able to receive Holy Communion…perhaps no
      one has assisted you with the Annulment process. Or perhaps no one is with you, to comfort you or accompany you during this LOSS.

      Pope Francis prayer intentions for November are for the lonely in this world. May God give us the strength to go on, to forgive, and to do God’s will always.

      Id like it if you could share more of your story here….as we are one family and under Monsignor Pope’s fold.

      God bless, anna

      1. Monsignor has heard much of my story. It is not going to be helpful to anyone in a time when the effort is overwhelmingly to find nullity, the gateway to which is REQUIRED divorce, rather than convalidate, when that is appropriate, or to work intensely and canonically toward healing wounded marriages.

        The vote at the synod showed accurate where the Church is. I need say no more.

        Thank you, Anna. Sincerely. That issues so clearly malignant have “two sides”, tells me all I need to know.

  20. Right after Pope Francis was elected, I was asked to edit a translation of a collection of his homilies (later published by Scepter as Encountering Christ). I was struck by the repetition of different variations of the word “accompany,” and it became clearer and clearer that the English cognate really doesn’t capture it. It doesn’t mean being a traveling companion, someone who keeps you company, no matter whether you happen to be heading for heaven or hell, traveling according to God’s law or in defiance of it. Rather, it implies sticking with someone, seeing that he has all he needs, not giving up on him, not letting inconvenience deter you. One example then-Cardinal Bergoglio gave was the way Our Lady “accompanied”‘ Jesus, despite all the misunderstanding, inconvenience, and pain that involved. He also urged the reader to “accompany” the unborn, standing by them despite inconvenience and the disapproval of the culture and the world.
    So I do understand the concern that “accompaniment” is a sort of buzzword intended to downplay truth and the bold proclamation of the Gospel but I think, to the extent that it’s the same thing Pope Francis was talking about, that’s not what’s intended.

  21. In the past, and often still in some places – not necessarily in the USA but in Latin America and Europe to be sure – there was a tendency to begin by imposing doctrines. Yet, C.S. Lewis said that you don’t begin the conversion of a heathen by 1st telling them to stop fornicating.

    I think the idea behind the “Art of Accompaniment” is to start where people are and bring them up one step at a time. It is to put the person first before doctrine – not that we deny or ignore doctrine but instead of shoving it down their throat, we bring them along one step at a time.

    I think part of the issue maybe in translation too. I did a 2-week pastoral course on youth ministry in Spain but the literal translation was the “School of Accompaniment” – that doesn’t have the same ring in English as Spanish.

  22. Accompaniment is commonly found in psychotherapeutics. Indeed, accompaniment seems to be another term for the “therapeutic”. Unlike religious conversion, psychotherapeutics requires ordinarily no need for repentance, self-renunciation, or radical re-orientation. All of these “old-fashioned” Christian ideas are actually thought to be anti-therapeutic.

    1. Thought by whom? Running away from responsibility for ones actions does not heal the wound. You cannot outrun a sucking chest wound because you don’t like the terminology the doctor uses to describe the treatment and healing process.

      No one gets better by running away, they just perpetuate their own misery. How is that therapeutic?

      1. Thought by those who believe in the “therapeutic mentality.” Phillip Rief wrote a book “The Triumph of the Therapeutic” which shows the profound difference between religious conversion and a psycho-therapeutic.

        1. Probably why some of those “therapists” are so wealthy. Prescribe a path that never leads to wellness and you have repeat business for life. So sad.

  23. Father,
    I think you want to change a word under the subject analogy. Were you have is “black-slappers” I think you want “back-slappers.”

  24. Preach that word Msgr. Pope!!! God has never in all our human history, watered down ANY of His Commandments, precepts or doctrines. What so many of us have forgotten is the HE IS GOD. We, in our refusing or arguing against His implicit laws, are guilty of presumption. And any shepherd who does this is guilty of far more. They are Judas Iscariots. i will not attend M ass at any Catholic Church which strays from their truths of the Christ-period.To be complicit in the smallest way betrays, in my mind, heart and soul, my beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ.

  25. How many busy parish priests have the time to ‘accompany’ every one in a sinful and irregular living situation???? If there are 2000 families in a parish, how would he even know which ones are in such situations to ‘accompany’ them and to have them ‘gradually’ stop offending God?

  26. In the multitude of counselors there is safety — this blog is like full-circle 🙂 lol’s

    With America it’s maybe like:

    Matthew 11:16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

    Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

    This day may be soon.

    Do you all want to hear an interesting word about the word Zion 🙂 (Evangelism)

    Check out this video from the: 13:30 Minute mark to the 16:48 mark 🙂

    Zion = The Bait on the Hook to Catch the Fish — The Nailed Hand of the Messiah.

    Blessings >

  27. Luke 13:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.


    (should of put: that day — in other comment) >

  28. I thought the Sacraments are the Catholic form of accompaniment.

    A more critical Synod topic, not on the agenda, is “how to keep cradle and/or faith filled Catholics in the pews”. Seems the back door is wide open as the faithful accompany each other out of the Church.

    I get the feeling the Pope and Bishops of the Synod are focused on the exceptions rather than core Catholicism. In a way it is kind of like Nero fiddling as the city burns. Great music, but the heat is coming.

  29. “But accompaniment for accompaniment’s sake is not really a pastoral strategy.”

    Dear Msgr, I sense you are ’tilting at windmills’ in your critique of form (word for agricultural building) over content (not a sign of barbarian hordes on the horizon) – ie may I ask you to consider the lessons for human experience of being from Plato’s story of the cave?

    As a catechist familiar with the workings of the GDC, in particular insights into the Divine Pedagogy, may I draw your attention to the lexigraphical similarities (ie meaning of the letter groupings, the etymological root) of the words under discussion? For the Italian word accogliere communicates motion of an acting person (accog- gather) in the same sense as the English word pedagogue (-ago- lead)

    The Almighty is the Divine Teacher.
    We serve humbly as slaves* to his Wisdom, we have none other.

    IMHO any negative connotations of the word “gradualism” are a bogeyman of your imagination.** Gradual is the proper means oriented to the end of perfecting being – whether animal, plant or mineral – created in immature form within a universe designed to accomodate (“accogliere” in Italian) development into maturity. Anagogy in Scripture abounds with poetic examples (bruised reeds, flickering wicks) of the art of accompaniment as pastoral strategy. There were two sets of stone tablets containing the decalog, recall. Moses’ had to ‘accogliere’ God’s chosen people along the path up and down Mt Sinai TWICE – he lost his cool with the first set and smashed them in a fit of pique!
    * a pedagogue was the domestic servant whose job it was to walk his Master’s children (ie to accompany them, accogliere) from home to their teacher in a public place where other students gathered to receive instruction) http://www.amazon.com/The-Pedagogy-God-Centrality-Catechesis/dp/1931018723

    ** “The pedagogy God uses is also gradual; it does not seek to bring about instantaneous results. It is slow, deliberate and unfolds in stages”

    1. I’m letting this comment through to show how NOT to post comments here. I would like to encourage all commenters to address the issues raised. Do not address me. I am not the point. I am surely grateful for expressions of appreciation, but other than answering clarifying questions, I prefer to stay back and let you all opine, and discuss among yourselves.

      Further speaking to my inner life or motivations by references to my imagination, fears about bogeymen etc. are speculations on this commenter’s part, and none of her business. I have written what I have written, comment on that, not me.

      Finally, dismissive terms like “tilting at windmills” are not helpful. I have written an article that this commenter disagrees with. Fair enough, but my arguments, are not frivolous or simply imaginary, as her dismissive image suggests. I have written concerns that I think are substantial given our current cultural setting and would ask that the arguments be taken seriously, even in she wants to disagree.

      Comments work best when they focus on the issue raised, not the man (in this case, me). Say what you think about the point and why you disagree and leave me out of it.

      Again, Commenters are free to talk back and forth between themselves, but other than answering clarifying questions, I have had my say and prefer to let you all discuss the issue(s) among yourselves.

  30. More on God’s Pedagogy, catechesis as craft, where formation is a 3-D artisanal learning-by-doing relationship, (as opposed to rote learning of “flatland” 2-D formulas “what Hans Urs von Balthasar called an “Islamization” of the notion of God”) from my fellow countryman Petroc Willey here:

Comments are closed.