CARF Foundation

13 May, 20

Spiritual coaching: we need it

In this springtime, the Gospel presents us with a country scene: a flock grazing in green pastures, and a man tending them. It is an ancient image in the cultures of the Near East: presenting the king as a "shepherd", that is, as someone who guides in search of food, and protects his people.

Already in the Old Testament the prophet Ezekiel had spoken of God as shepherd of Israel: Thus says the Lord God: I myself will seek out my flock and feed it. (Ez 34:11).

Jesus the good shepherd

Jesus' words are provocative for those who knew the text of Ezekiel well: 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. 12 The wage earner, the one who is not a shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and flees - and the wolf snatches them and scatters them, 13 because he is a wage earner and does not care about sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me. (Jn 10:11-14). He presents himself as the good shepherd, that is, he assumes as his own task what is proper to God. And he does so with boundless generosity and dedication, even to the point of giving his life. This is what he did on the cross and what we have celebrated during Holy Week.

Each one of us, it is fair to say, are "intelligent sheep", but "sheep" in need of help, of someone to defend us, of someone who knows us and loves us, and who guides us. The Lord takes care of us and guides us by using people close to us who help us to listen to his voice. This is what in the tradition of the Church is called "spiritual direction" or "spiritual accompaniment". We all need it.

Jesus did not manifest his plans directly to St. Paul at the moment of his conversion. When Paul asked him: What should I do? He replies: Arise and go to Damascus; there you will be told all that you have to do.. There he asked one of those early Christians, named Ananias, to explain everything to him and to accompany him in those first moments of his Christian life. Surely Paul would speak to her in all sincerity about what was inside him, and she listened attentively to his words, eager to learn and put into practice what he was suggesting. Ananias would help him to concretize his good dispositions.

Francisco Varo Conversation 1

Don Francisco Varo en la Parroquia.

Following the example of St. Paul

Each of us needs to do the same. It can be good to meet with a priest with whom we can talk in depth about everything that concerns us, so that he can guide us, encourage us, and also administer the sacrament of confession to keep our souls clean and well disposed, full of strength for the great battle of love and peace that is the Christian life.

Soccer teams need a coach, a "coachman" who is experienced and who brings together the team's strengths. Politicians, artists, businessmen have their personal "coach", an expert who offers them ideas and advice on how to succeed in their professional activities. All the more reason why we all need a good "coach" to guide us in our spiritual life...

The help that can be given to us by those who accompany us on our journey is very diverse: they will open up horizons for us; they will guide us in forming an upright Christian criterion that will be manifested in our work, in our family environment, in ordinary difficulties... so that our lives will reflect the marvels of the Lord; they will encourage us in moments of discouragement or difficulties...; they will have words of encouragement and advice that will give us firmness.

También, con su experiencia, nos puede señalar los obstáculos que encontremos en la vida interior y nos ayudará a superarlos, de modo que la gracia de Dios pueda actuar a fondo en nuestros corazones; nos indicará los medios más adecuados para crecer en el amor a Dios; corregirá con prudencia las posibles desviaciones que se puedan presentar en nuestro camino; nos acompañará en los momentos de desconcierto o de especial dificultad; nos ayudará y animará siempre en la lucha interior; nos alentará a ser fermento en medio del mundo, allí donde las ha situado el Señor…

In these personal conversations, they will also help us to share these feelings of Christ to help everyone, to be men like the Apostles, who carry the good news of the Gospel throughout the earth.

How can we make good use of this means of Christian formation?

First of all, if possible, we should set a fixed day and time each week, for example, to have this conversation with the priest... and make sure that we see each other regularly, overcoming any unforeseen events or changes of plans. With the WhastsApp it is very easy to modify the appointment a little if necessary, so as not to miss any conversation.

It will also help us to prepare it well, making ourselves known so that they can help us better. I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep -Jesus says. The pastor needs to know the real situation, as it is, with its virtues and defects, in order to give us the most adequate recipe.

And go with the desire to listen and learn, to know Jesus better: and my sheep know me.

Moreover, whoever is a good "sheep" is beginning to be a "good shepherd" who collaborates with Jesus in his task: I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice and form one flock with one shepherd. (Jn 10:16). There are many who are far from God, a little or a lot abandoned in their Christian life, and Jesus wants to reach them too, and he counts on the collaboration of Christians, of each one of us, so that they too may find the way to happiness.

Let us make concrete resolutions: Do I talk every week, calmly, with a priest? If not, with whom and when could I meet to begin? Am I totally sincere so that they know me well and help me? Am I making an effort every day to put into practice the advice I receive?

We will closely notice the paternity of God. Also the maternal care of our mother the Virgin, who will not hesitate to obtain the grace of God that we need, when she sees that we put the opportune means on our part. We ask her to help us to put into action the good desires that the Lord has placed in our hearts today.

D. Francisco Varo Pineda
Director de Investigación de la Facultad de Teología en la University of Navarra y profesor de Sagrada Escritura. Publicado en "Diálogos para comprender".


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