The term “pastoral counseling” can hold a variance of meanings to different individuals. To some, this brings to mind an image of a male pastor who helps clarify God’s direction in a person’s life. To others, this term specifically relates to a professional counselor who only helps those practicing the Christian faith.
Although there are many different definitions of what pastoral counseling is, I notice several common themes which writers have drawn upon. The term “integration” appears a lot in reference to guiding a client towards physical, mental and spiritual well-being. For Christian clients whose faith is important to them, knowing that pastoral counselors share their faith helps develop trust, rapport and accountability.
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
With the many thoughts and images the term “pastoral counseling” evokes, it is not difficult to imagine why the disciple is so difficult to define. Yet, with a culturally, historically, and religiously rich word such as “pastoral,” surely a counseling profession claiming the title must also contain a certain depth.
Growing up as an Air Force “brat,” moving around every couple of years and living on different military bases around the world was a part of my everyday life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the lifestyle I also pictured for myself. However, I also wanted to attend Franciscan University. Thankfully, I’m able to do both thanks to Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at the University of Pittsburgh—just 40 miles from campus.
Mother Teresa is a favorite saint for many young Catholics, myself included. She moved mountains with her quiet, steady, and loving presence. She answered a call that was extremely difficult, trusting in God even when she falt utterly abandoned and alone. And this great saint, a leader of service and love, a spiritual giant among mankind, started simple.
Mission is fruitful. Mission is hard. Mission is learning how to serve and to be served. Over ten-day break, I was on a team that went and ministered to high school students in Budapest, Hungary. The Austria program had five Eastern European mission locations this semester: two in Slovakia, two in Romania, and one in Hungary. Each mission varied in its experiences and ministry but all benefited from the raw experience of the Lord’s love and His ability to work through each missionary individually.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: a modern witness to the hope that springs from the Gospel. A young Italian whose faith and way of life were harmoniously fused. A man who prayed through the night and climbed a mountain in the morning to hear the voice of God clearer. A man whose life was full of constant joy and self-giving.