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What is “Companions on the Journey”?
Companions on the Journey is an adult formation opportunity sponsored by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo.
Companions on the Journey provides an opportunity for continuing spiritual discernment in the context of a small faith-sharing group, and is designed especially for individuals who are unable or who are not ready to participate in private spiritual direction.
How Does “Companions” Work?
A small group of spiritual “companions” meets regularly under the direction of a professional spiritual director or guide. The atmosphere is prayerful, respectful and confidential. The format includes a combination of prayer, reflection, personal sharing, reflective listening and mutual support.
Each participant has an opportunity to share a recent experience and to comment on what they think may be the spiritual significance of that experience. The spiritual director or guide and other participants then have an opportunity to share their own impressions about the spiritual significance of the person’s experience.
It is not the purpose of the group or the spiritual director to criticize, judge or interpret a person’s experience or its spiritual significance. Comments are offered in a spirit of respectful affirmation, based on the premise that God often speaks to us through other people and a community of faithful companions.
What Is “Spiritual Discernment”?
Spiritual Discernment (sometimes called “Spiritual Direction” or “Spiritual Guidance” ) is an ancient spiritual practice in many religious traditions, including Christianity. It describes the process by which an individual or group of individuals meet regularly with a spiritual guide to examine their lives, to recognize God’s presence and to discern God’s will.
Spiritual discernment provides more support and encouragement than direction or guidance. It is not the role of the spiritual director or guide to provide answers, or to tell participants what they should do. Spiritual discernment works on the premise that God speaks to each of us in our hearts; our challenge is to become attentive enough, and discerning enough, to understand what God is saying. The role of the director or guide is to help participants discern, with God’s grace, what God desires for their spiritual wellbeing.
This is what distinguishes Spiritual Discernment from typical faith-sharing groups; the focus is not on what a person believes, but on identifying what God is saying or doing in the person’s life. The purpose is not to create new personal friendships, but to establish a bond of trust and care which will enable participants to identify and understand God’s word in their lives.
What Should You Expect if you Participate in “Companions”?
If you choose to participate in Companions on the Journey you should expect to grow in your personal spiritual life, your awareness of God’s presence in your life, your understanding of God’s will for you, and your ability to respond to God’s presence.
You should also expect:
• to grow in your appreciation for God’s presence in the people and world
• to be treated with respect and understanding at all times;
• to be guided, encouraged and supported in your personal spiritual journey
• to have your opinions, insights, convictions and experiences treated with
reverence and confidentiality;
• to never be forced to say or do anything which would be uncomfortable,
dishonest or embarrassing;
• to have your spiritual growth and continued participation in the group
prayerfully evaluated by the spiritual director or guide.
• to participate on a regular basis in a prayerful evaluation of the spiritual
director or guide and the group as a whole.
It is the mutual responsibility of the spiritual director or guide and the individual participant to assess an individual’s continued participation. It is the responsibility of the director or guide to determine, if necessary, when a participant’s continued participation is no longer beneficial for the individual or the group.
What Does “Companions” Require?
Participation in Companions on the Journey requires that each person has a desire to know God more deeply, is willing to enter into a process of inten-tional spiritual discernment, and is willing to share their spiritual journey with others.
• Participants should have an awareness and reverence for the Spirit of God
in themselves, in others, and in the world around them.
• Participants must be willing and able to be discrete, to respect
confidentiality, and to accept a diversity of spiritual convictions, styles and
• Participants are expected to attend regularly, listen attentively, and
Who Should Participate in “Companions”?
Most adult persons who have been catechized in a religious tradition and actively participate in a religious community will benefit from participation in a process of spiritual discernment such as Companions on the Journey; however, this experience may not be beneficial for every individual.
Spiritual discernment is not a substitute for personal counseling or professional therapy. Some individuals may find private spiritual direction more helpful; many participants will gradually grow into a readiness for private spiritual direction.
Find Out More
New Companions groups will be formed when a sufficient number of persons are interested. If you are interested in private spiritual direction or participation inCompanions on the Journey, contact the Director of Religious Education in your parish or contact:
Director of Adult Faith Formation • 320 Mulberry St., Waterloo IA 50703.
Phone: 319-234-9912 • Email: DBQ208s3@dbqarch.org