What we hope for
We want to walk together in small groups, either online or face-to-face, to support one another to keep sharing the good news of freedom and caring resistance with those who are also broken-hearted. With creative loyalty, we follow the path that has been walked by many people in history -those who we call our ancestors- and in their lives, we find the nourishment to live with hope and dignity.
Those of us who participate in this spiritual and theological mutual accompaniment are engaged in several challenging struggles. In the midst of global violence, we want to nourish ourselves with the Wisdom that reconciles and transforms.
Either with the formal support of our churches and religious institutions or by managing without their institutional support, we come together in the struggle for Life, especially the most vulnerable and damaged lives.
We embrace the present, as our diverse faith experiences do not deny a secular involvement but empower it. It is in today's life that we choose to prioritize our relationship with people excluded by various types of injustice, discrimination and intolerance.
We help one another to reflect on our lives and our practice, always through the love that springs from walking with the forgotten ones. Through mutual care, critical reflection and the integrated act of feeling-thinking (senti-pensar), we want to support all the forms of our commitments in our different contexts.
We want to interpret our shared experience as if we were a sounding board for our dialogues and encounters that promotes their continuation and deepening. We do all of this in order to articulate a living theology.
Having experienced the liberating insights/intuitions which emerge within our dialogues and group encounters, we want to root them in our diverse spiritual traditions and to find the paths of communion that are opened by Life itself - freely given - by the voices of the victims and by the cries of Earth.
Since 2016, we have been adopting the classical methodology of seeing / judging / acting from Latin American Liberation Theology, but we have updated it in order to involve all of our subjectivity in this process. Our memory, our pain, our joy, our experience of finitude and openness to the other, of vulnerability and liberation-- these all shape our personal, social and religious experience and, therefore, are intimately linked with each other. This network of subjective experiences, offered in solidarity, shapes lively reflection and concrete practices that can give meaning to the past, illuminate the present, and anticipate and open a promising future of liberation and justice for all.
We start with what we see and feel, what we hear, and touch in our daily lives. and through the carrying out of our social and pastoral duties. We do not alienate ourselves from our brothers and sisters; their fears are also our fears and their hopes are also ours. We then identify the symbols, reflections, and practices that strengthen us and we share them with the groups.
After we identify and share these symbols and practices, we find strength in the witnessed hope of Mutual Accompaniment. We lighten our load as we feel encouraged to deepen our commitment to change the world by walking with vulnerable and resilient people.
Core ideas with which we began our dialogue in 2016
We recognize some thematic approaches / groundings that were the initial provocations of our dialogue as we began to walk through spiritual and theological mutual accompaniment:
1) Vulnerability. The vulnerabilities of ourselves and of the world are the sources from which our dialogue springs. We do not want to hide our weakness, but to acknowledge that only from our open wounds can we achieve the communion of life. We want to liberate others, and so we recognize ourselves as survivors. We celebrate the commitment of our struggles and ministries, but we know that, in different ways, we are also oppressors with a need for conversion. We conceive our very diverse services and ministries as a sacramental leadership that is a living sign for the world. This is only fertile insofar as we pay attention to the voices and the transforming practices of the victims, as well as the cries of Earth. We want to decentralize the institutions to which we belong and make ourselves present in the margins, emptying ourselves with humility to make room in our lives for the pain and hope of the people. We of conceive them and of ourselves as part of the same human family that is nursed by the cries and melodies of Earth.
2) Resistance and resilience. In the face of the hegemonic systems of oppression, exclusion and death, we decide to be Friends of Life and Creation; we are inspired by the resistance of the victims and the resilience that has allowed them to keep struggling for life. We want our communities, churches and social institutions to be spaces of healing - not spaces of exclusion. In this epochal crisis of global violence and Earth’s destruction, we see the practices and symbols that foster Life as fires that are ignited from the ashes. In this new dawn, we perceive signs of hope among the discarded people and among ourselves. We also glimpse how new forms of communion and of being a church are anticipating the new world promised by divine Wisdom. Together with the victims, we want to recover the spiritualties that have been kidnapped by a sacrificial model of religion - namely, those religious practices and beliefs which justify and foster a piety of suffering, resignation and a feeling of purity as an accusation of those who are different.
3) Forgiveness offered from the victims. We thus open ourselves to the gracious Life that comes from the forgiveness offered by the victims, a freely-given offering that broadens the present and constitutes today an eschatological anticipation of the world to come. We embrace mutuality, friendship and self-care as principles of hope that nourish our service, ministries and struggles.
4) Diversity. This accompaniment is an intercultural project. We want to weave communion from our many differences, to make a common body from our different corporealities and rationalities and from our experiences, our hearts and minds. We embrace the aspirations and wounds from our stories, as well as the bodies that harbor and keep them open to others. We celebrate the diversity of our contexts as a strength and not as a threat. We open our hearts and minds to the surprise of the plurality of senses and meanings. We commit ourselves to listen with patience and empathy to understand the perspective of our brothers and sisters. We walk towards this horizon of harmony and coexistence in a mutual recognition of our rich diversity and of the communion that sets us free.
These initial orientations are related to the work and theological reflection of our brother and compañero Carlos Mendoza-Álvarez, who has walked through spiritual and theological mutual accompaniment since the beginning of 2016. To get closer to Carlos' work, some of us developed a pedagogical guide that we share here. So far, we count on a Spanish version only, but soon we will count on an English version.