Archive for the ‘Existentialist trends’ Category

PRIESTLY VOCATION AND HUMAN GROWTH

January 19, 2009

*Fr.Ivo da Conceição Souza

Introduction:

Priestly formation should be and is a top priority in the growth of the Christian community. The Church cannot continue to grow without leadership, without ministerial priesthood. It is a concern for all, families, parishes, dioceses, schools, colleges, universities, bishops, priests, laity. In the present changing society, there are different emphases and demands which affect the priestly formation. Vatican II in its Decree on Priestly Formation, Optatam Totius, has provided wise guidelines for the renewal of the priestly formation. It is clear from the Church documents that there cannot be renewal in the Church without a clergy, vibrant with life. They help us to have a clear vision of priestly formation in today’s competitive, demanding world. Vocation is God’s gift, but it is conditioned by the family and social background.

One of the problems today is the crisis of identity among priests and seminarians. With modern consciousness, life-styles, mobility, information, means of communication, there is an identity crisis, mainly due to sociological causes as well as to the strident process of secularization. We have to “save the savable” in the period of crisis. Priests have been in exodus, till today the crisis has not totally subsided.

Amidst all the vicissitudes of life, one thing is certain: the priest must be Christ-like–which has been condensed in the traditional Latin phrase: “Alter Christus”. John Paul II clearly affirms: “Certainly there is an essential aspect of the priest that does not change: the priest of tomorrow, no less than the priest of today, must resemble Christ”. On the one hand, the priests of the third millennium “will continue the work of the priests who, in preceding millennia, have animated the life of the Church”. On the other hand, there is a need of adaptation of the life and ministry of the priest “to every era and circumstance of life”. It is necessary to identify important concrete tasks and pastoral methods so as to “respond adequately to human expectations” (Cf.Pastores Dabo Vobis, no.5), particularly to the challenges posed by the contemporary Indian reality. The Church of the morrow will be fashioned, to a great extent, by tomorrow’s priests. In this essay, I shall try to discuss briefly the formation of the seminarians of today, in the light of contemporary anthropology and existential psychology, by going through the different phases of their growth “from the Minor to the Major Seminary”, till they reach human-spiritual maturity.

1.1: Priestly Vocation:

From the very outset, we have to bear in mind that “every life is a vocation”(Cf.Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Populorum Progressio, no.15), since God made Man “in his image and likeness” (cf.Gn 1:26f), he called Man to humanize the earth and imprint the seal of his personality on the whole creation (see Gn 1:26.28), by living an intimate relationship of love with God and his neighbour. (We use the word Man in its generic sense). This call to communion with God reveals to Man the truth about his existence and is “an outstanding cause of human dignity” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, no.19). In this dialogue of love with God we find the possibility to grow according to the “project of life”–which is God’s gift to us–, to give meaning to our relationships and realities of daily existence, to reach the fullness of life (cf.Jn 10:10), and to write our Gospel-letter of Love, a Good News for others (cf.Jn 13:34)–which is our gift to God. At the root of every vocational journey there is the God of Love, who walks with us, the Immanu-El, the God-with-us. We discover the presence of God in our personal story by surrendering ourselves totally to him, by letting our human outlook and option be transformed by his Spirit, because “if Man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for his own sake, Man can fully discover his true self only through a sincere gift of himself (cf.Lk 17:33f)” (GS no.24). This is the secret of the human existence, of an authentic self-realization. Every Man is called to build the earth, every Christian is called to build up the Church and to witness in today’s society that our existence will be fruitful, if it has its roots in God, if it is docile to the workings and promptings of the Spirit, and that a civilization without God soon becomes a civilization without love, and is therefore doomed to die. As Vatican II puts it: “All Christians, in any state or walk of life, are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love” (LG no.40).

In this context, the priestly vocation is a sign of the permanence of the Church, symbol and sacrament of God’s love. Through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), we are incorporated into the Christ-event (Christ-Person and Christ-Community), we are sent to proclaim the liberating Good News and empowered to witness to a life-giving love. Together with the laity, the priest has to re-evangelize life and culture, rather create a “culture of life” and renew all things in Christ (cf.Eph 1:10). By Christian vocation we are called to share in the life of Christ and participate in his mission. Therefore, we must see the priestly vocation within the wider reality of Christian vocation. It is a special call to ministry in the Church by which through the sacrament of Holy Orders the priest is empowered to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom, to lead it in worship, and to build up the Christian community; in short, the ministry of Word, Sacraments and Service (LG nn.20 and 28; PO nn.1-6). Priesthood is the ministerial participation in the triple office of Jesus: Prophet, Shepherd and Sanctifier. Priests are “consecrated after the image of Jesus Christ, the Supreme and eternal Priest, as true priests of the New Testament to preach the Gospel, to shepherd the faithful and to celebrate the divine worship” (LG no.28; PO nn.3-6, 13; PDV no.26)

1.2: Image of Priest:

The image of a priest in India, as it is everywhere, can be summed up under three headings: Prophet of the Good News of God’s Kingdom, Animator and Builder of the Community, Leader of the Worshipping Community.

Like Jesus, the Prophet, the priest is the teacher and herald of the liberating News of God’s Love. He is anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the Good Tidings to the poor (anawim, cf.Lk 4:18, see Is 61:1f). His primary duty is to proclaim the Word of the Gospel, the Christian message (PO no.4; LG no.25; SC no.35; cf.Mk 1:15; 16:15; Rm 10:17), to transmit the Revelation fruitfully (OT no.16). This is the ministry of the Word. Evangelization through the Word is depicted as a service (cf.1 Lk 1:2; Acts 4:31; 6:4). His prophetic role has to be seen in the context of India. Culturally, it is unity in diversity, the cradle of several ancient religions, the meeting-place of vibrant religious traditions; economically, it is poor and there is social injustice; and socially, it is discriminative. Formation in the Seminary will prepare the priests-to-be to respond to the challenges posed by the contemporary Indian reality. The priest is a champion of human rights, justice, and love. He should be able to read the “signs of the times”, and accordingly see, judge and act. Therefore, he should be a man of dialogue, a seeker and defender of truth and a collaborator with others for the common cause of a better humanity.

Like Jesus, the Priest, he is the steward entrusted with the mysteries of God (cf.1 Cor 4:1), minister of sacraments. He transforms the believing and sharing community into a worshipping community, thus enabling it to live a life, centred on the Eucharist, the source and summit of its Christian worship and prayer (PO no.5), the memorial of the sacrificial death of Christ and of his glorious resurrection, sign of unity, bond of love, the paschal banquet (PDV no.48).

Like Jesus, the King-Shepherd, the priest is a shepherd, animator of the community, minister of reconciliation (cf.2 Cor 5:18)–through his self-sacrificing service, he builds up the Church as the family of God (PO no.6). “By virtue of their consecration, priests are configured to Jesus the Good Shepherd and are called to imitate and to live out his own pastoral charity” (PDV no.22; cf.Jer 3:15: “I shall give you shepherds after my heart). His mission is to overcome divisive forces, bring about reconciliation, and gather all peoples into a brotherhood of unity by discerning and facilitating the charisms and ministries within the community. The redeemed community is a listening and worshipping community. It listens to the Word of God, shares in the Sacraments and lives a life, centred in the Eucharist, the fountain and source of its Christian life and activity (PO no.5). At this stage let us remember of an important point, namely “Vocation within vocation”: Each one has do discern his own place within the priestly ministry. It is a task that is incumbent on the bishop as well as on each priest. Unless there is discernment, there will be a waste of personal resources with the consequent detriment to the Church. Itself.

1.3: Signs of Vocation:

Sometimes it is easy to say that somebody is called for priesthood. But there are also difficult cases for discernment. We have to distinguish between the conditions and the specific signs of a vocation. There are different kinds of aptitude in the order of intelligence, of feeling and of volition, without which any sign proves worthless. The signs are quite a different matter. There may be a personal inclination (attraction to the priestly state), which may take one form or another: negatively, a person may feel a spiritual uneasiness about his refusal to follow an inner call; positively, he may be convinced that God is calling him and that he can reach self-fulfillment only by accepting this call for priesthood. The motives may be natural or supernatural.

The Eucharist is one of the factors in the analysis of the signs of a priestly vocation. In a candidate to priesthood we should find a disposition to accept the message of Jesus of Nazareth, an ability to open a life-absorbing conversation with Him, an orientation towards the Eucharist. In fact, it is the Eucharist that makes us conscious of God’s love for us, of our vocation to love. It is through the Eucharist that we came to discern our future vocation, it made us receptive of God’s call. It was a deep experience, although not utterable in words, of the greatness and radicality of that love, which was later on penetrated through the Word and Sacraments during the priestly ministry. Since vocation is a commitment to Christ, it is also a commitment to the mystery of his love, of his flesh and blood. It is an option for life, for love, for life-giving love, which is visible in the sacrificial meal of the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of death and Resurrection of Jesus.

The candidate may fill that nothing else is going to satisfy him. He may be willing to respond to the call of Jesus: “The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few” (Mt 9:37). Jesus looks at him lovingly and calls him, by providing him with an urge to work in his vineyard (cf.Mk 10:21). The example of zealous priests never ceases to attract young men to this calling. Vital decisions in human life are based on man’s freedom, they are an adventure. The task of the formators is to discern the gamut of indicators of the priestly call.[1]

My vocation had its origin in the love of the Eucharist—I loved to serve at different Masses during the day. This enthusiasm brought me to discover the love of Jesus for humanity and led me to believe that it was a task worth the dedication of a lifetime. My contacts with good priests and laity, the faith-love atmosphere in my family, friendship among my classmates in the school—all these are factors that helped the growth of my priestly vocation. To proclaim the Word, to heal the world, to give life and love to the broken society at all levels–this Ideal brought me to the Altar of God.

1.4: Agents of Vocation Promotion:

The fostering of priestly vocation is the responsibility of the whole Christian community (PO no.2) (Charter of Priestly Formation for India, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Commission for Clergy and Religious, April 1988, 2.3.1-5). The family, the school, the parish are the agents of vocation promotion. A family, imbued with faith, love and commitment to their Christian vocation, will contribute greatly to the fostering of priestly vocations. A dynamic parish community is the see-bed of priestly vocations. Schools, particularly Apostolic Schools, have an important role in promoting priestly vocations. In order to awaken in the minds of promising boys a desire for priesthood, programmes such as vocation seminars, retreats, vocation camps, family prayer groups, exhibitions, vocation Sundays, counselling are useful. The role of small Christian communities, Altar Boys’ Association, Christian Life Community, Focolare Movement, Neo-Catechumenate, Charismatic Renewal, Youth Movement is important. Many priestly and religious vocations are coming from these movements. Priests’ life-witness is one of the best means to promote vocations—their spirit of prayer and service, simplicity of life, and true paschal joy (PO no.11). Priests in the parishes are also formators–they should strive to identify candidates with aptitude for priesthood and guide them with their life-witness of faith, love and hope. Annual Vocation Day, a special prayer by the parish community, a prayer during the Rosary in the family are some other means for the purpose.

2.1: Multi-dimensional Formation:

We find in the book of the Acts of the Apostles three criteria for the recruitment of deacons. Like the apostles of Christ, they have to serve (Acts 6:3, diakonein); they have to be of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. In today’s terminology, these three criteria are the human, spiritual and intellectual dimensions of formation. To be fully human, to have refined character, to be a well-integrated and mature person, to have a high moral caliber, to be adjustable with one another—all these constitute the human dimension of priestly formation. It is the foundation (‘infra-structure’), on which other structural dimensions are built. Being integrally human implies that one’s intellectual and spiritual aspects of life too must be ‘integral’: as a leader of community, a priest needs to have sufficient intelligence, which enables him to have a grasp of situations and problems, to assess them objectively and to deal with them prudently. With a mission and a vision, he is minister of Word, Sacraments and Service. He should be people-oriented more than task/office-oriented. He cannot be insensitive to stark realities around them. Being irritable towards people, not trained to administrative and managerial work, he may be bereft of job satisfaction, and turn lukewarm, rather a stumbling-block than a catalyst in the renewal of the Church. He should have the biblical vision of the Church as the people of God in the renewed ecclesiology, as a community of love, sharing, fellowship and communion, instead individualism and family feuds may prevail. One of the factors that attracts the believers to their community is the fellowship among the Pentecostals. They allure them away to a new way of being the church. Our pietistic mentality may foster individualistic spirituality–people do not learn the basis of Christian way of life, a life of communion and sharing (“Spirituality of communion”), exemplified by the communitarian and self-giving life of the Trinity and lived, to some extent, in the early Christian community. As a shepherd, he should give warmth of his presence and love to each faithful in the parish, without any discrimination, and collaborate with all in building the Kingdom of God, without aligning with the rich and the influential in the parish. The three dimensions of priestly formation, namely human, spiritual and intellectual, should converge into the fourth dimension, that is pastoral (PDV no.42).

Today the priest has to become a factotum, multifaceted, multi-dimensional: not exclusively cultic, not a cog in an administrative machine (cogwheel), but a leader of the community, light for the people, spokesman in their struggle, catalyst in their daily life, more than all a shepherd after God’s own heart (cf.Jr 3:15), able “to gather them together and to guide them” (PDV no.1; cf.Jn 11:52).

This multi-dimensionality of today’s priest demands that the priests-to-be must get a multi-dimensional formation. All these aspects of formation “have its object to make them true shepherds of souls after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ”, as the Decree on Priestly Formation insists: “All the elements of their training, spiritual, intellectual, disciplinary, should be co-ordinated with this pastoral aim in view” (OT no.4).

2.2: Growth of Vocation:

Priestly vocation is a gift given by God and accepted in human freedom, it is the history of an inexpressible dialogue between God and human beings, a mysterious plan which is entirely directed by God and realized by the free response given by the one who is called. Jesus “called to himself those whom he desired; and they came to him (Mk 3:13). The purpose of this call is “to be with him”, so as to be sent out to preach the Good News, experienced in the intimacy with Jesus (Mk 3:13-15; cf.Jn 10:36). Thus, the one who is called prolongs and continues the presence and the mission of the One who has called.

If all seminary staff members are formators, the seminarian himself is a self-formator. With his God-given freedom he can resist to formation or benefit the maximum from it. He is the agent of his own formation. The seminary staff, structures and processes will ultimately function as facilitators in relation to the seminarian, providing him with the atmosphere and conditions in which he will learn to assume responsibility (response-ability) for his own formation and make of himself the kind of priest that he is called to be by Christ in the local Church (CBCI Charter 3.1.5).

We can analyze the three phases of growth of a seminarian during the period of his formation in the Minor Seminary, which is rather an Apostolic School or Orientation Year.

1.First Phase: Episodico-exterior (10-13 years). First Period: Dream of a Child (10-11); Power of Ideal (12-13).[2]

At this age there is a search for his own “project”, it is not tradition-oriented, but reason- or experience-oriented–teenager demands reasons, he wants to “touch with his own hands”, be convinced of his belief, and only then he will act with decision.

There is a search for reality by his own efforts, “age of credo” is at the end, there is a beginning of the sense of autonomy, of realism. Religious truth is to be presented, without any stupid, puerile, fantastic colours, but in the form of objective, exhaustive examples and explanations, for instance, Bible stories, life of Jesus, history of Christianity, lives of the attractive saints.

2.Second Phase: Rational-affective (14-15 years). First Period: Looking at a Star (15-16); Second Period: Human Willpower (17-18).

Adolescence is the period of “storms and stress”. At this stage, there is a conflict between two tendencies: gregariousness and individuation. On the one hand, the adolescent seeks to be accepted by others (gregariousness); on the other hand, he seeks to be himself (individuation). He can be enslaved by conformity to the peer group and the acceptance of status symbols. He needs acceptance, sympathy and love from the family so that he may not be a slave to arbitrary standards. This is the time of hero worship, which is nursed through the reading of the lives of priests, missionaries, Jesus, the Man. It is the time of dreaming of ad insulas longe. Since adolescents are full of fantasy and ideal, are charmed and fascinated by the heroes, Jesus can charm their minds and conquer their hearts. Likewise, the adolescent may question authority and even his religious faith. These are rather symptoms of intellectual awakening. There is instability and insecurity, systematic refusal of influences, an effort of reintegration in a new social sphere, search for equilibrium and autonomy in every field; at the intellectual level, a partial return to an unconscious egocentrism, which isolates him from the social world, and closes him in abstract ideas and fantasies (this may lead him to day-dreaming with the consequent abulia), a logic impregnated with feelings and emotions, violence of feelings, hidden under cynical and ironic attitude; at the moral level, there may be profound crisis, with new problems, but an intense search of ideals, admiration of personalities (personality cult); at the religious level, he may have crisis of doubt, with a mystical attitude, with abandonment of religious duties.

3.Third Phase: Synthetico-Interior (15-18 years):

Life is to be presented as a beautiful ideal. Life without an ideal is like a sky without stars, a nest without birds, a house without children. Ideal is like a luminous cloud and a pillar of fire, directing in the desert of life. Ideals are like stars. We do not reach them, but like seamen we direct the destiny of our existence in the stormy sea. At a certain stage of adolescence, there is a need to give himself up to a superior ideal. This is a sign of psycho-moral normality. Otherwise, he is to some extent incomplete. With the haversack on the shoulders, the young man is trying to climb the highest mountain. At this stage a sublime ideal should be presented to the young people so as to arouse enthusiasm, which is not an illusion. It will help to overcome his pessimism and egocentrism. Priestly vocation is not suffocation of the powers of heart, but expansion–he must be imbued with enthusiasm for that high mission. Priesthood is to be presented as a happy choice, a beneficial conquest, a precious holocaust, sublimation of love, collaboration in the work of redemption, an engagement, a heroic battle, so that the young people may love that ideal, may tend towards it decisively with all psychological forces. They see their responsibility: the world is full of men and beautiful realities, but also there is a place for them in it. They should be helped to sense this discovery: they will discover the great saving design of God in their life, in the Mystical Body of Christ, where there is a privileged place for them. They are called to be artisans of true history of humanity.

They are in the age of eruption of feelings, they should be helped to direct them to their ideal, to Jesus, who is close to them and accepts them as his friends: “I do not call you servants any longer…Instead, I call you friends…” (cf.Jn 15:15). The crucial point is to enter his friendship so as to save their vocation. They need revision in religion—to re-elaborate, deepen, to mature their faith. Conviction of faith should be nourished by prayer. They look at the educators: this is the critical period in which they see their weaknesses and look at the maturity of their priests-educators. They are boiling with passion and infinite enthusiasm. But when they see the weakness on the part of the educators, they cannot see any halo around them. They may go far from them, and never come back to them…and to their faith. They may think even that they have been cheated by the educator. This is evident in several ex-seminarians…

2.3: Human Maturity:

Priestly formation is a journey “to be with Christ”. It must help him to imbibe the Spirit of Jesus, the Servant-Leader and the Gospel values (Jn 13:3-15; Phil 2:6-11). It implies human formation, which leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation. He should grow in knowledge of divine mystery and needs a high level of intellectual formation so as to be able to fulfill his mission in these difficult times. In order to be involved in the society where he is working, he must know the conditions of the community in its social, economic, religious, political, cultural and historical perspectives, particularly in the context of a pluralistic society. The real objective of the formation is to help them to become true pastors of the Christian faithful after the example of Jesus, to be missionaries, inculturated into the existential milieu of the people of this country (PVD no.57).

Human maturity is psycho-sexual, psycho-social, and intellectual-spiritual maturity. It means stability of character, the ability to make carefully weighed decisions and a sound judgment of events and people. The seminarian should learn self-control, develop strength of character, and, in general, value those qualities which are esteemed by men and make Christ’s minister acceptable. Such qualities are sincerity, a constant love of justice, fidelity to one’s promises, courtesy in deed, modesty and charity in speech (Optatam Totius 11; Pastores Dabo Vobis no. 43; Gravissimum Educationis no.3).

***

In our context, we have to develop qualities and skills for the success of our relationships. There is a general complaint that priests are not polite, gentle and sweet towards the people, unfortunately lacking often even decorum. Particularly, the young seminarians and priests are targeted—they do not keep decorum in their relationship with the laity. They do not refine their manners and etiquette. Being ”set apart from the people” means refined words, respect for others, avoiding vulgarity in talks, following table etiquette and manners. This education should come from the families and be developed in the course of priestly formation.

Indian society is known for multi-religious pluralism and dehumanizing poverty. But it is also known for values, like deep religiosity, community consciousness, deference to wise men, elders and constituted authority, respect for life, zeal for building up harmony, an eagerness to reconcile opposites, tolerance, a touch of austerity, a high regard for family values, and moral principles and a deep sense of the Transcendent. These qualities, when properly cultivated in the lives of the seminarians, will transform them to be genuine persons, pleasing both God and men.

Character formation takes its origin in family. Candidates are to be chosen from families where there is true faith and Christian love in abundance. Human-psychological formation should have a thrust in the affective life of the seminarians so that they build up the basic attitudes towards celibacy. Celibacy is a charism and a gift, it is for “living and loving”. What the Lord commands us is given as a free gift, which we have to welcome with our full freedom, if it is to work in us and transform us. We can apply the human technology of personal growth to spiritual growth. Baptism is the starting-point of all spiritual growth, through which we are re-born to a new life in Christ and in the Spirit, and incorporated into his Body, the Church. We received the gifts of the Word and the Spirit, the infused virtues of faith, hope and love. We grow with all the potentialities of our human being; the attitudes of empathy, confrontation, self-actualization; the skills of unlearning and learning, responding, personalizing and initiating; exploration, understanding and action [3]

If the seminarians are immature in affectivity and relationships, they may be advised and encouraged to choose other walks of life. Graduation and regency may help them to acquire emotional maturity. They should be fully animated to follow the Lord with an “undivided heart”(1 Cor 7:34). During their life in the Minor Seminary, they should be assisted to discern their vocation, to know in depth the priestly obligations and to interiorize the Gospel values in their lives. During regency, structured or unstructured, they may acquire a greater maturity and thus be enabled to make a definitive option for priesthood. By spending their vacations with their own family, they may identify themselves with them, lead a simple life, be apostles to them. Get-together of the parents and Parents’ Day Celebration are to be encouraged. At the same time, there should be an attitude of “reach-out” by their social involvement: exposure programmes, survey, visits, social services, jail ministry, slum ministry, hospital ministry.

In the final analysis, spirituality will be evidenced in his exercise of human and Christian values, such as readiness to forgive, sensitivity to the feelings of others, ability to empathize with them, the practice of honesty and justice, respect for the rights of others, and zeal for selfless service (CBCI Charter of Priestly Formation for India, 3.2.2.K).

***

In the course of his formation to priesthood, a candidate for priesthood is required to acquire the following traits: He should be emotionally well balanced–have respect for the dignity of the human person; be able to accept himself with his strengths and weaknesses and develop a positive self-image; be capable of loving and being loved; have capacity to relate to people affectively; have the ability to confront caringly; accept his own emotions and express them creatively; be able to cherish the good and the beautiful in people and events; be friendly, frank and cheerful; conduct himself with grace and poise; accept his sexuality and have the capacity to relate to the opposite-complementary sex with affective maturity; have capacity to face his problems and to find the means to solve them; to have his inner freedom, and be motivated; finally, take responsibility for himself and be accountable.

This will not be possible, if he is not spiritually equipped—that is, if he does not have a personal experience of God; if he is not open to the Word of God; if he does not have the right concept of God; if he does not integrate his own life experiences into his faith in God. He should be aware of his potentialities and develop them to the maximum; keep himself open to new experiences; capitalize on available resources to make ‘discovery’ an on-going process. A distorted image of God and a negative self-image will take the seminarian to darkness and doom. Good manners are essential for anybody in the civil society. His family background is to be taken into account. Also the personal peculiarities of the individual, unpleasant experiences of childhood and the absence of cherished values in modern ‘scooter families’ are to be considered. We cannot live in illusory self-complacency. What matters is the person, being more than doing or having. In short, “globalization of solidarity” is to be achieved in this era of “global village” and “globalization syndrome” (cf.Ecclesia in Asia, no.39: “globalization without marginalization”). The quality of our life and of our love is more important than our professional competence and efficiency. What we are before God is more important than what we have or do, an important insight for us who are living in a “McDonaldized Society”.

Family background and the experience in the school/parish in younger age are important elements that will determine to some extent the quality of the priest that will emerge. The question is how far can formators complement and supplement what is lacking in this respect.

Conclusion:

From this analysis of the growth of priestly vocation, rooted in the psycho-sexual-intellectual and spiritual development of the seminarians, we should glean guidelines and directions. At the center should be the Eucharist, sacrament of “thanksgiving” and “thanksliving”. We shall not be able to facilitate the formation of our seminarians without discernment. We cannot be successful if we do not work as a team, as a family. Our seminaries cannot prosper without an adequate selection of seminarians as well as of formators. Without the awareness of the Spirit, our formation may be technically structured, but it will not be effective and fruitful. We cannot build without the Lord, as Simon Peter could not fish without faith in Jesus (cf.Lk 5:4-6)…

Bibliography:

Miguel Mariezcurrena, OAR, “Formacion Humana”, in: Concilio Vaticano II, Comentarios al decreto Optatam Totius sobre la formacion sacerdotal, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid, 1970, pp.357-389

Gerald Grant, CSSR, “General Characteristics of Affective Maturity”, in: AA.VV., Foundations for Maturity in religious Life, St.Paul Publications, 1975, pp.11-31

John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love?, Argus Communications, Illinois, 1967/1972, pp.75-96

J.M.Fuster, SJ, Growing in Christ.A Practical Method, St.Paul Publications, Bombay, 3rd.revised edition, 1991, pp.151-181

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Commission for Clergy and Religious, April 13-22, 1988

Congregation for Catholic Education, Ratio Fundamentalis (RF), 1969

Andrea Maggiali, L’Ideale Piu Alto.Note psicopedagogiche per istruzioni e direzione ai piccoli seminaristi, Editrice Ancora, Milano, 1960

Louis Malieckal, CMI, “Human Formation in the Light of Pastores Dabo Vobis”, in: Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, vol.22/1, January-June, 1998, pp.5-13

Dr.Varghese Chakkalakal, “The Idea of Priestly Formation in Our Time”, in: Pastoral Charity in the Third Millennium: “A Three Day ‘Living Together’ on Priesthood and Priestly Formation in Perspective of an Awaiting Community”, October 6-8, 1997, ed.Justin Panackal, OCD, pp.34-53

Stafford Pole, CM, Seminary in Crisis, Herder and  Herder, New York, 1965, pp.18-29

Summary: The Author discusses in this article the problems of formation of character of the seminarians, following them according to their age. Human formation begins at home, but it is carried on in the Apostolic School or Minor Seminary together with the intellectual and spiritual education. Seminary staff members should be attentive to the growth of each seminarian and try to help them accordingly.

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[1] Cf.Michael PFLIEGER, A Handbook of Pastoral Theology, The Mercier Press, Cork, Ireland, 1966, pp.13-16

[2] Cf.Andrea Maggiali, L’Ideale piu alto, Editrice Ancora, Milano, 1960, pp.306-359. I am leaning myself on the schema of the Author, by explaining it, however, in the light of modern psychology.

[3] Cf.J.M.FUSTER, SJ, Growing in Christ. A Practical Method, 3rd revised edition, St.Paul Publications, 1982, pp.13-15.

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METAPHYSICS ACCORDING TO M. HEIDEGGER

January 17, 2009

Introduction:

If, according to Aristotle, the origin of philosophy is wonder, sketched even in the questions of a child, then the beginning of philosophy for M.Heidegger is the Being, rather the wonder of the Being. Metaphysical concerns are perceived in the questions of children: “What is this?”, “Why is this?”, with their fingers pointing out to realities. Man is a questioning being, he questions about the ultimate reality, about the Being itself. According to M.Heidegger, it is Man’s understanding of Being that dominates and characterizes the history of human thought. Likewise, the disorientation of the modern thought and existence is rooted in “forgetfulness of Being”. Heidegger finds the history of human thought in philosophy and poetry, and in the language that underlies them both. “It is in words and language that things first come into being and are” (cf. M.Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans.Ralph Manheim, Motilal Banarsidas Publishers, Delhi, 1999, p.13). This statement explains his care and concern for words, its origin and vicissitudes, for its nuances and overtones. He is deeply involved in his own language. For him, Greek is the most powerful and most spiritual of all languages (p.57). It is difficult to translate his Greek and German words into English. For example, we have translated SEIN as “Being”, and SEIENDES as “essent/beings” and DASEIN (or Da-sein, as “existence” or better as “being-there”).

Heideggerian Project/Scope:

Martin Heidegger, a seminal thinker, a philosopher of our times, “a man without a biography”, led a simple life of an ordinary German professor. Born at the little town of Messkirch, southwest Germany, on September 26, 1889, for the most part he lived and worked there, in town of his birth, except for the five years at Marburg, until he died on May 26, 1976. His life was basically uneventful, except for the period between May 1933 to February 1934, during which he was involved with the Nazi party. He loved nature. This oneness with nature gave him space and solitude for his philosophical endeavours. He is typically a seeker, a courageous seeker, always underway. He was not afraid in choosing what is true. His thinking was a path, which he unceasingly travelled, in spite of bends and turns. For him, to think was to thank, namely to make a grateful response to the appeal which he listened without respite. The ‘matter-for-thought’ of Heidegger’s seeking has been hailed with interest.

Usually his life is divided into two periods: Early Heidegger (or H-I) and Later Heidegger (or H-II). In these two phases there is continuity in content and aim, in spite of a ‘shift’ or a different perspective. The main purpose of Heidegger’s thought is to raise the question of Being (das Sein). (Cf.his Sein und Zeit, SZ, Tübingen, Max Niemayer Verlag, 1972, p.1: Being and Time, trans.John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, New York, Harper and Row Publishers, 1962, p.19(BT).

The Being of beings (Sein des Seiendes) itself is not a being, but the ultimate condition which allows all beings to exist. It is a process which gives every being passage from nothingness to existence and by which beings remain in existence. It is the Ground or Source, as it sustains every being in its self. Exploring the meaning of Being in relation to Dasein was the main concern of Heidegger’s philosophy. Being chooses Dasein (or the human person) to clarify the question of Being, as Dasein is the only Being who can take up this issue. We shall highlight Heidegger’s notion of authenticity of Dasein in relation to the totality of his writings (H-I and H-II).

Johnson J.Puthenpurackal, in Heidegger: Through Authentic Totality to Total Authenticity, describes the early phase as the ‘hermeneutic circle’ and the latter phase as the ‘aletheiological circle’. For him, Heideggerian way of thinking is a “way through the ‘hermeneutic circle’ to the ‘aletheiological circle’”. He speaks of the human person, but his main aim is to highlight the ‘shift’ (Kehre) between H-I and H-II. Frederich Wilhelm von Herman in Die Selbstinterpretation Martin Heideggers (Meissenheim am Glan, Verlag Anton Haln, 1964, hereafter FWH), compares Heideggerian themes from the perspectives of both the phases, but does not delineate the exact nature of the shift between H-I and H-II. We underline the shift and proceed to analyse Dasein’s authenticity in the light of the shift. Such an analysis involves the study of the human person in his noetic, everyday, whole, authentic, temporal, historical and being-centred dimensions.

1. Dasein as a being-in-the-world: In his hermeneutical or noetic aspect, Dasein is a unique type of being, in that he has a pre-ontological understanding of being, so he can raise the question of Being. Besides, though Dasein finds himself in the world, he is able to understand, interpret, articulate in assertion and express himself in discourse. Thus, Dasein has priority over all other beings. Then, Dasein in his relational and personal dimensions–as relational, he has a “care-full” dealing with entities and a relation of respectful solicitude towards other Daseins. In his personal concern, caught up as he is in his everyday involvements, Dasein is fallen and inauthentic. Thus, in this state, care (Sorge) constitutes the Being of Dasein. The Dasein as a being-towards-the-end, as by his very being-in-the-world, Dasein is always towards his end. In this context, Dasein is analysed in his whole, authentic, temporal and historical aspects. Thus, in the first part, we study the various dimensions of Dasein’s being-in the-world. In the second part, Dasein: A Being-toward-Being, we expound the nature of Dasein as found in H-II. The essence of Dasein is seen in his relationship to Being, in their belonging-together. In order that Dasein can be his true self, he has to be in this belonging-together. In chapter four, Dasein is considered a thinker of Being.

Critique:

1.If we can find deficiencies in Heidegger’s thought, we see that there is no objective theory of knowledge. Consequently, Dasein is not able to validate objectively and communicate his experience of being. In his reaction to the metaphysical-technological thinking which to his mind brought about rootlessness and inauthenticity in the human person, Heidegger discarded the significance of scientific knowledge and rationality. Rather, Heidegger emphasized the praxis-oriented understanding. Further, he stressed the hermeneutical method, which distinguished between natural and human sciences. Natural science is guided by scientific method, whereas human science is governed by hermeneutics. He underrated the value of science and the objectivity of knowledge. 2.Although Heidegger speaks of Dasein as ‘being-with’, yet his analysis of intersubjective relationship is brief, as an appendix to the analysis of Dasein as ‘being-along-side-entities’. His consideration of the social world is rather deplorable. No Other in the horizontal dimension.

3. He does not speak of God. Of Other in the vertical dimension. As the notion of other as communal existence is absent, also the notion of the other as the absolute and the eternal, Thou, is absent in Heidegger’s thought. The Divine of which Heidegger speaks is an aspect of the phenomenological presencing of Being. It is not a God to be worshipped and adored.

4. No moral value system: There is no other, there is also no moral or value system. Morality becomes superfluous if there is no God.

5. No concreteness of Dasein, Heidegger does not speak of his bodily nature. Any genuine relationship is missing.

6. Cut off from any other relationship, Dasein is not authentic and is divorced from action. The notion of authenticity lacks completeness.

7.Existence of Dasein lacks purpose and meaning. Human person is characterized by guilt, limitations and death. The situation of Dasein in the world is tragic and grim. Being centred on himself, cut away from others, the Divine and Being, Dasein is lonely, helpless, meaningless, purposeless. Dasein is suffocated by metaphysical and technological thinking, without any value of life, under technological control. Being a victim of will-to-power, Dasein becomes a commodity, a raw material, in the process of the struggle for power and survival.

8. Lacks a sense of hope for the future. Dasein’s life ends with death. Being in a particular state-of-life as ‘thrown,’ Dasein is lost without knowing what happens after death. What is the meaning and worth of life? Where does a lonely, enclosed existence end? Heidegger does not have definite answers to these troubling questions.

9. Dasein as being-in-the-world is falling, disclosed, thrown and projecting, constituted of idle-talk, curiosity, ambiguity, falling and thrownness. Even when Dasein’s Being is considered as care, Dasein’s Being is constituted of existentiality, facticity and fallenness. Thus, everyday existence of Dasein becomes inauthentic, which is absurd. There is here lack of precision.

10. Distinction between things present-at-hand and ready-to-hand, between scientific attitude and pratical attitude is inconsistent.

Heidegger speaks of the Divine as one aspect of the Fourfold. It is the immortal aspect in and through which Being manifests. Yet Being is not identified with the Divine. Heidegger does not attempt to clarify the nature of the Divine’s relationship to Being.

His Contribution:

Heideggerian Philosophy is a Call to Genuine Living. With the sudden development of the positive sciences, by the end of the 19th cent., and their impact in the early 20th cent.,  (Nuclear Physics and Microphysics, Freudian Psychology, medical sciences with their new inventions), Man became slave of scientific progress. The whole thrust of the sciences was focused towards bringing practical-useful results, without questioning the ultimate truth of the scientific propositions. Man at this juncture in the history of the West had lost his desire for ultimate meaning, truth and Being, and having turned his attention in finding facts, had become blind to the fundamental realities of Man’s life. Having created the scientific-technological culture, Man began to view everything, even the human person, as tools for the progress of sciences and better living conditions. Thus, Man lost the sense of finality and purpose in life, has become the victim of confusion in every aspect of his existence. In this hopeless situation, brought about by the technological revolution and scientific progress, the meaningfulness of the human person and his existence has been deteriorating.

Dr.Ivo da C.Souza

MUSINGS… BE HUMAN

January 14, 2009

*Francis Archer

Traditionally, philosophy would define Man as a ‘rational animal’, an animal being endowed with reason. Thanks to his reasoning power, Man is different from the animals. A dog cannot reason out and perceive the relation between the cause and the effect (or the function of the middle term).

Another definition of Man is: Man is an ‘incarnated spirit’, an embodied soul. Today existentialist philosophy describes Man in concrete terms: a being born on earth, eating, crying, playing with others, fulfilling his needs, being with others, being in the society. All these are descriptions of Man. Recognizing the uniqueness of Man, the Existentialist

Philosopher restricts the word ‘existence’ to the kind of being exemplified in Man. The being that exists is man. Man alone exists, table is, stone is, even God is. To ‘ex-ist’ means to ‘stand out from nothingness, to keep on emerging from where s/he is at any given moment’. Man exists in the uniqueness of the individual existent, uttering the personal pronoun “I” and “mine”. They assert each Man’s individuality, personality and uniqueness—I am not a specimen of a class, I stand out as this existent and no other. Further, Man is related to the world, into which he “stands out”. In his Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), Martin Heidegger illustrates Man’s relatedness to the word as the being-in-the-world (Sein-in-der-Welt). Man ‘emerges’ in a world of goring concerns and initially asserts himself in his engagement and involvement in practical and personal projects. Man’s being-in-the-world is an existentiale, an essential-structural aspect of being Man: “My being Man is to be a being-in-the-world”. The world for Heidegger is not an extended object (res extensa) as a container in which all entities are placed, nor the sum total of all the entities, like trees, animals, utensils, men. World is none of these, but all these—existentially understood, the world is a field or region of mutual concern. Without the mutually linking or in today’s language, without ‘busy networking’ concern any number of entities makes no world. “To be-in…” means to be familiar with, to be involved in, to ‘re-side’, as in being-in-a-profession, being-in-love. Thus, being-in-the-world is necessarily to be related to other entities and men by a special relation other than a spatial one. As Robert G. Olson puts it, “Man is a being, who is immediately present to the world and who must live out his life in and through his inescapable relation to the world” (An Introduction to Existentialism, Dover, New York, 1962, p.135, emphasis his). This relatedness is directed to-wards things (Umwelt) and human beings (Mitwelt). Man’s being-in-the-world has a relation to the world-of-things to the environmental world (being alongside) and to the world-of-persons to the communal world (Being-with). I am surrounded not only by utensils or being-ready-to-hand (Zuhandensein), but also by persons like me that are not utensils for me, persons with whom I live in constant interaction, or Being-present-at-hand (Vorhandensein). Man is essentially a Being-with-others (Dasein ist wesenhaft Mitsein) (Cf.Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 1979, p.120). Ex-istence necessarily implies co-existence. My relation to the world of things is characterized by practical concern (Besorgen) and to the world-of-men, by personal concern or solicitude (Fürsorge). Martin Buber characterizes this double relation by the words “I-It” and “I-Thou”, corresponding to practical and personal concerns. Do I treat my fellow-men and fellow-women as persons or objects for my use and pleasure? Today’s world needs a definite answer…