the other (cf.
3:5). The pace of this accompa-
niment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting
our closeness and our compassionate gaze which
also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the
Christian life.
170. Although it sounds obvious, spiritual ac-
companiment must lead others ever closer to
God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some
people think they are free if they can avoid God;
they fail to see that they remain existentially or-
phaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being
pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around
themselves and never getting anywhere. To
accompany them would be counterproductive
if it became a sort of therapy supporting their
self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage
with Christ to the Father.
171. Today more than ever we need men and
women who, on the basis of their experience
of accompanying others, are familiar with pro-
cesses which call for prudence, understanding,
patience and docility to the Spirit, so that they
can protect the sheep from wolves who would
scatter the flock. We need to practice the art
of listening, which is more than simply hearing.
Listening, in communication, is an openness of
heart which makes possible that closeness with-
out which genuine spiritual encounter cannot oc-
cur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture
and word which shows that we are more than
simply bystanders. Only through such respectful
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