AN ANAMCARA

Fr Jim Cogley


The practice of journeying with an anamchara was a key concept in Celtic Christianity. This soul friend was a wise advisor, a good listener and someone with whom you could share your deepest thoughts. To seek out a soul friend was considered of paramount importance and particularly for the early monks. Abbots even acknowledged that it was more important to follow one’s soul friend than to obey the monastic rules. Christ had sent out his disciples two by two and so the Christian journey was never recommended to be undertaken alone. In his book Anamchara where John O Donohue explores the meaning of soul friend for our times, he writes: The anamchara was a person with whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anamchara your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul. The deep need for unburdening our souls, in a non-ritualistic way, is widely recognized by all experts in the psychological and human development field. The practice would also alleviate the lack of spiritual maturity and the unhealthy level of isolation that is experienced by so many priests and prevent many of the pastoral crisis that have been so frequent in recent times.