Spiritual Counsellor : a Team member, Guide and Friend

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Spiritual Counsellor : a Team member, Guide and Friend
 

 

The Spiritual Counsellor is a team member just like the others members, and yet he occupies a particular position.  He is a team member, guide and friend.[1]

Firstly, the Spiritual Counsellor is a team member just like the others: the relationship with the rest of the team is not hierarchical; he is not there to ‘teach’ us in the strictest sense of the term.  The Responsible Couple are there for the organisational aspects of the Team, which means that the Spiritual Counsellor does not have this to deal with.  Indeed, our two previous Spiritual Counsellors felt for once that they attended as much as for themselves as for us.  In line with this, the Spiritual Counsellor has us to his house just as each couple hosts the team; he joins us in informal gatherings of the team and can partake in the annual retreat.

But he remains a team member and a priest.  Whereas couples have received the sacrament of marriage, he has been ordained; his place in the team demonstrates the parallel between both our vocations: we journey towards Christ each in our own way.  He is the link between the team and the Church and diocese: in our Team, sometimes we take the time to discuss the deeper questions that touch the Church, and this discussion is all the more interesting because we have different sensibilities.  The Spiritual Counsellor’s presence enlightens us on these tendencies: how to teach catechism?  It also means that we can express ourselves as a church-going family about our expectations and have them heard or at least discussed.

Finally, with the presence of our Spiritual Counsellor, we have a representative of Christ at the heart of the ecclesial community, which is our Team.  This feeling of forming a small church culminates when we celebrate the Eucharist as a Team.

Secondly, our Spiritual Counsellor is a guide, who helps us with his knowledge.  He has a culture of the Bible that enlightens us during our prayer time, but also in our study of the Word.  We would not have been able to grasp the depth and breathe of numerous texts (like the Gospel of St John) without the explanations of our Spiritual Counsellor.

He supports us thanks to his experience; his prayer practice and his assiduous reading of the Word mean that he allows us to broach the Endeavours not just as homework but as tools that help us get closer to Jesus.  He helps us be less tough on ourselves when we feel our efforts are insufficient; he brings us back to what is essential.

He is also enlightened by our testimonial as a Christian couple, he who is in contact with numerous other families.  We give him lots of ideas for marriage preparation, on the way couples work, on the place Christ occupies in our lives, but also about children, sexuality.  In this regard, the team members’ testimonials on the happiness and difficulties of each couple can also instruct the Counsellor.  In his mission as a priest, he has to prepare couples for marriage, to celebrate unions.  Thus he acquires a better knowledge of couples and the family, of the place of the sacraments, the perception the children and their parents have of catechism or parish life.

Finally, he becomes a friend, who exerts a benevolent presence.  He is a sentinel for the Team; he arbitrates the election of the Responsible Couple, thereby exercising his discrimination and a certain responsibility.  He always finds a solution to resolve disagreements or tense situations and knows how to help us refocus our discussions and preoccupations.

He is our link with the Church. We see him frequently if we are in his parish or if we visit him.  Our Spiritual Counsellor has christened several Team members’ children, has taken the time to talk to the older children and has heard the confession of those Team members, who asked for it.

Over time, he has become a close friend of the family.  This was the case with our first Spiritual Counsellor with whom we journeyed for six years.

Thus the Spiritual Counsellor, a brother in Christ, can become a friend who accompanies us and whom we accompany in the important events of life.



[1] Speech made at a session for Spiritual Counsellors, Annecy, France, 5 November 2012