Archive for the ‘Psychology’ 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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DE VITA CHRISTIANA SUB LUMINE PSYCHOLOGIAE HODIERNAE

January 19, 2009

*Ivo da C.Souza

Introductio:

Haud sane dubie summo mihi honori est summoque gaudio, has lineas latino sermone conscribere, necnon in hac commentatione item lectoribus meis offerre lumen psychologiae modernae super vitam christianam proiectum. Illud iamdudum mihi firmiter persuasum est, latinas litteras excolere et penitius in dies degustare, magnum afferre emolumentum pro mente nostra bene colenda et aliis linguis maximo cum fructu callendis. Dum quadraginta abhinc annis, in Saligonensi Seminario, adulescens cursum persolvebam, Latinitatis scriptorum opera crebro seduloque lectitavi et degustavi. Mihi pergratum est, commentarios, qui Latinitas inscribuntur, a Mons.Antonio Bacci ex Urbe Vaticana in lucem olim editos, me alacriter legisse necnon amore Romanorum sermonis flagravisse, ac cursu studiorum meorum, in Seminario Minori diligenter sollerterque confectorum, illo aures magis magisque assuefecisse. Abhinc paucos annos cum Iesuita Patre Antonio Freire, in Universitate Bracarensi Latinitatis praeceptore (qui iam obiit diem), quem “Ciceronem Redivivum” vocabant–pulchro quidem exornatoque sermone exarabat atque cum lepore scribebat–, epistularum commercium lusitanice inivi, et multa multumque ab eo et circa eum edidici, quae mihi pro vita mea theologica et spiritali magnopere profuerunt. Proh dolor!, hodie sermo latinus iam in seminariis nostris e prisco ac crastino gradu defecit et–hoc aegro animo gravatoque loquor, minime prouti acti laudator temporis–auditores, a quibus iam haec lingua aliena facta est vel saltem iis minus familiaris evasit, etiam fructibus eius maximis luculentisque orbari videntur. Hanc praeclaram opportunitatem nactus (hac praeclara opportunitate mihi oblata), –quam pergrate atque perlibenter excepi–, eximiis latinitatis magistris meis (qui iam e vita migraverunt), uti par est, grates ingentes persolvere et a vobis, lectoribus meis, patientiam veniamque poscere mihi liceat. Hoc thema/argumentum, quod selegi, mihi videtur lectoribus meis, praesertim sacerdotibus qui hodie tenus hunc sermonem penitus intellegere necnon aliquantulum degustare valent—etsi forsitan rari nantes in gurgite vasto–, utile fore quam maxime. Ad psychologiam quod spectat, haec sunt argumenta theologiae recentioris indolis ‘holisticae’ (uti mos est hodie dicere) et interdisciplinaris. Praeprimis de psychologia moderna sermo instituetur, et dein de methodo exsistentiali therapeutica in contextu exsistentiae christianae disserere, quod opportunum ac lectoribus meis perutile fore duxi, aggrediar.

1.1: Psychologia Exsistentialis:

Nostra prorsus aetate nova reapse tentamina in campo psychologiae et psychanalysis orta sunt, nempe, quae ex experientia hominis originem ducunt. Logotherapia quae dicitur, videlicet, vi sensus vitae sanatio, ad scholam psychologiae pertinet, et potius a Gordon W.Allport “psychiatria exsistentialis” huic conamini nomen tribuitur. Oportet breviter perpendere quid sibi velit logotherapia et quae sint eius fundamina, priusquam de eius principiis, criteriis et lineis therapeuticis sermonem faciam. Haec vox “Logotherapia” (e vocibus graecis “logos” et “therapia” ducta) quidem significat sensum vitae detegere, profundam significationem rerum reperire, novos adspectus rerum invisere perscrutarique, et exinde medellam aucupari. Hic agitur nimirum de nova ratione in psychotherapia et psychologia pastorali nostris hisce temporibus invecta. In campo vastissimo psychiatriae exsistentialis logotherapia protulit adhibuitque methodum psychotherapeuticam (quae vox graeca significat “servire, curare, sanare animum”). Quod ad fidem christianam attinet, oportet incunctanter fateri quod psychotherapia habet quid commune cum Christotherapia, seu arte christiana medendi et sanandi, de qua infra agam. Logotherapia reapse excedit analysim exsistentialem, quippe quae, uti mos est, quoque “ontoanalysis” nuncupatur. Illa est non solummodo analysis exsistentiae seu entis, sed potius est analysis significationis vitae. Aliter dicto: agitur non solum de ente (graeca voce ons, ontos), sed de sensu (graece logos, quae vox sonat “verbum” seu “sensus”). Logotherapia ad activitatem therapeuticam protenditur.[1] Ut paucis persolvam verbis, logotherapia est non solummodo analysis, sed therapia, seu ars medendi. In qualibet medendi arte, semper omnino subiacet visio quae theoria dicitur (ex vocabulo graeco theaomai, “videre, conspicere, contemplari”; exinde theoria, quam germanice Weltanschauung vocant, nempe “mundi visio”, seu “mundividentia”) et activitas, seu practica ratio viaque. Logotherapia, quatenus medendi ratio et ars est, explicita philosophia vitae fulcitur. Ut presse fusiusque exponam, logotherapia enititur tribus fundamentalibus, inter se connexis assumptionibus et principiis, videlicet, liberum arbitrium, voluntas significationis et significatio exsistentiae. [2]

a)Libertas voluntatis:

Hominis liberum arbitrium pertinet ad immediata data experientiae, cum in vita semper in dies ad morsum realitatis invitamur, uti francogallice dici solet, “la morsure du reel”. Haec data nos ducunt ad methodum phenomenologicam, quae dicitur, quaerendam, ab Edmundo Husserl repertam et adhibitam. Dantur solummodo duo typi personarum, quae arbitrantur se libero arbitrio non frui, nempe schizophrenici (seu mente capti) et deterministi. Ut deterministi contendunt, etiamsi experimur perinde ac si libero arbitrio fruamur, tamen reapse dolo laboramus. Exinde a nobis disquirendum est, utrum experientia nostra ad veritatem manuducat, necne. Quis potest vero iudex constitui in hoc responso stabiliendo?

Pro viribus moduloque meis disserere conabor de hac libertate. Prae oculis tenendum, Sigismundum Freud in “pan-determinismum”, qui dicitur, incidisse. Novis assertis illum multa nova in campum scientificum adduxisse haud dubium est — in hoc quidem omnes consentiunt–, ac praesertim de inconsciis viribus impulsionibusque, in homine latentibus, disceptatio illi in meritum tribuenda. Attamen adsunt plura in scriptis eius quae a nostra mente toto coelo differunt, haec aequa lance diiudicari et renui oportet.

Humana libertas depingi potest ut libertas limitibus circunscripta, sicuti hodie in eloquio exsistentialium peritorum dici mos est, “libertas situata/in situ sita”, seu in adiunctis concretis situationeque reposita, minime absoluta et absque finibus necnon condicionibus, sive biologicae, vel psychologicae, vel sociologicae naturae. Attamen in vi potestateque hominis est illis adiunctis vicissitudinibusque vitae pro re nata obviam ire, et habitudinem ad hanc situationem exsistentialem definire. Hominis est eligere quod se perficit et secernere quod sibi nocet, brevi verbo: quae sublimia quaedam valores constituunt secum ferre, sed quae abnormia quaedam personalitatem dignitatemque humanam minuunt, devitare seponereque. Exinde utique nova aperitur via aditusque, dimensio videlicet noetica, quam audit, quippe quae necessitudinem suam universo circumdanti sibique determinat. Homo non est servus, sed dominus suimetipsius ac sui compos animi, cum possit sua sponte agere, sese perficere et humanitatem suam creationi superimponere, breviter: sigillo suo omnem rem obsignare, quin tamen, nostro iudicio, dominium Dei Creatoris per fas et nefas respuat. Vi noetica, sese scilicet re-vertendi super semetipsum facultate pollet. Quod animalia hac virtute facultateque carent, neutiquam videlicet valent super se re-flectere, ne sensum quidem percipere nec in eo progredi, omnibus est, quam maxime pernotum. Datur tensio esse inter et sensum (being and meaning). Haec tensio ita enti humano inhaeret, ut ex eo eradicari nequeat, et ita opus est ad hominis bene esse mentale. Ita, incipientes directione humana, nempe voluntate ad sensum, adepti sumus pedentetim aliud problema, scilicet “confrontationem sensus”, quae dicitur, scilicet in aerumnis procellisque vitae nostrae sensum capere, et recta capessere.

Logotherapia ducit ad sensum specialem, qui tamen invenitur in illo sese transcendente, et veram provocationem (challenge) constituit. In hoc mundo libertatis vivimus, in quo “vacuum exsistentialequod dicitur, creatum, experimur. Quam ob rem vacuitate inanitateque periclitamur, dynamicus motus exsistentialis amittitur, et quod peius graviusque fieri potest, neurosi ac psychosi laboramus. Vita enim nostra illecebris periculisque scatet; proinde vitae expostulationibus adamussim obtemperare, seu illius pericula, discrimina exigentiasque effugere conamur, et in hoc ipso gressu securitatem instinctualem quaerimus. Quae cum ita sint, quaestio haec incessanter indesinenterque ob oculos nostros versatur: Quid de me posthac fiet?

1.2: Sui Transcendentia:

Sicut nubes praeibat Israelitis, et viam ostendens, eos ducebat, ita quoque propositum nostrum, instar stellae, nos manuducit. Attamen si hoc signum praesentiae Dei in sinu populi Israelitici remaneret, potius quam eos in rectam directionem duceret, nubes haec omnia tegeret, et Israelitae e via deciderent. Ut aliis verbis me proferam, sensus minime cum esse coincidit. Sensus idealis, instar stellae, nobis praeire oportet, ne e via excidamus. Sensus enim praeire debet esse; sensus viam aditumque sternit enti, exsistentia decidit nisi in terminis transcendentiae vivatur, debet proinde ulterius progredi. Sub hoc angulo, distinguere possumus qui gressum regunt moderanturque (“pacemakers”, qui dicuntur), inter et qui pacem stabiliunt, tranquillitatem ordinis, concentum et harmoniam vitae servant (“peacemakers” quos audiunt). Alii adferunt sensum et valores exsistentiae humanae, ac directione ope sensus exsistentialis nos ditant; alii autem a nobis auferunt onus vitae sensu sedationis (alii). In hoc sensu, Moyses erat “pacemaker”, quippe qui conscientiam hominum non sedavit mollivitque, sed eam excitavit. Moyses populum suum, tabulas lapideas decem praeceptorum secum ferens, adiit, et eos non pepercit provocatione rationum et valorum; dum “peacemakers”, ex alia parte, populum pacificare et eos sibi reconciliare conantur. Sic dicti, “peacemakers”, obliviscuntur sapientiae in monito Goethe repositae: “Si hominem censemus sicuti est, nos eum peiorem reddimus; si autem eum, sicuti esse debet, ei subvenimus fieri quod est” (ut sermone anglico vertam, “If we take man as he is, we make him worse; if we take him as he ought to be, we help him become it”).

Stadium maturationis progressusque psychologici obtineri potest, in quo stadio libertas, quae est conceptus centralis in philosophia exsistentiali, fit responsabilitas. Unusquisque est responsabilis adimpletionis sensus specifici suae vitae personalis. Etiam responsabilis est coram re, seu erga rem, causam, numen seu vim–in conscientia sua seu in societate humana. Certamen exsistentiae humanae omnibus est pernotum, iuxta illud Vergilii: “Video meliora proboque, deteriora autem sequor” (videsis etiam illud Beati Pauli: “Non enim quod volo bonum hoc facio, sed quod nolo malum hoc ago”, Rom 7:19). Attamen plures sunt qui exsistentiam suam in terminis responsabilitatis coram Deo interpretantur. [3]

Logotherapia est theoria saecularis, ratio et ars practica medendi, constringi debet effatis vel assertis factualibus, libertatem decisionis seu electionis relinquens unicuique, sive in linea religiosa seu agnostica. In religione, veritas dignosci potest evidentia quae omnibus hominibus proba acceptaque manet. In omnibus religionibus datur possibilitas seligendi quod naturam humanam complet et ditat. Logotherapia prostat omnibus obvia, sive theistis sive atheistis, pro logotherapia enim responsabilitas pertinet ad essentiam exsistentiae humanae. Logotherapiae doctus non potest influere aegrotum in suam decisionem personalem, scilicet qua unusquisque ratione debeat responsabilitatem suam interpretari, seu personalem sensum complecti. Conscientia humana obnoxia est errori. Sed hoc factum non parcit ei oboedientiam, exsistentia nostra involvit pericula. Muneri huic debet unusquisque sese devovere, necnon, quod sane obtinet, operam ingentem impigramque navare. Melius est vivere in mundo in quo libertas locum tenet, et ubi quod haud rectum est seligendi facultas offertur, potius quam in mundo in quo non datur alterna potestas, breviter: in mundo ubi dantur sceleratores, sicuti Adolfus Hitler et sodales, necnon beati homines, sicut Venerabilis Agnelus Sousa et Mater Theresa. Mundus liber anteponi, pro certo, debet mundo totalitario et conformismo vique cohibito.

2.1: Sensus Vitae:

Uti iam supra nuper enucleatum est, in nova technica Logotherapiae adhibetur nova methodus, quae phenomenologica dicitur, scilicet data immediatae experientiae vitae actualis investigamus ratione arteque phenomenologica, quae introspectionem exsuperavit evicitque. In hoc processu peritus in logotherapia aperit agrum visualem/prospectum aegroti, cui significationem exsistentiae patefacit, et eum certiorem facit quomodo mentium cordiumque transformatio miraculum fiat, et in vitam novam spem conferre potest. Hoc gressu novam conscientiam sumendi, potius per opera sua, per creativitatem suam, necnon per experientias impulsionesque suas, aegrotus potest innovata ratione experiri et degustare quidquid verum est, quidquid bonum est, quidquid pulchrum est. Item hac ratione datur occursus (“encounter”) cum altera persona, seu communicatio, persona ad personam, facie ad faciem, cum aliis entibus humanis. Cum quis potest aliam personam in sua unicitate, peculiaritate, vel “haecceitate” inspicere, uti eloquio quidem scholastico dici solet, hoc sibi vult cum aliquo esse, etiam in situatione in qua quis creativitate caret. In hac situatione quoque potest quis sensum vitae adimplere et perficere. In hoc fato, cum quis contra spem dimicet, ei porrigitur occasio ad valores adimplendos, immo ad valores summos heroicosque aggrediendos, et spem nanciscendam, verbo: ad significationem doloris rite adipiscendam. Vita immutari et sensu adimpleri potest tribus rationibus: primo: quo quis quid exsistentiae offert (exempli gratia, opera sua); secundo: quo quis a vita seu a mundo quid accipit (valores experiundo); et tandem tertio: per fatum quod mutari nequit (velut morbus exitialis, minime resecabilis, vel insanabilis, vg. cancer). Quod natura nobis non parcit, et nostrae condicionis ingeniique nostri pars fit, nempe, mors, culpabilitas et dolor, nemini nulli est ignotum. Aliter dicto: Tres adspectus tragici humanae exsistentiae sunt mortalitas, fallibilitas et dolor. Anxietas, culturae nostrae hodiernae civilis inhaerens, quae nos crucianter angit et nobis non parcit, immo nos pervadit et permeat. Quomodo transformanda humana vita? Anxietas est unum ex symptomatibus seu vexillis exsistentiae modernae. Transitio vitae non demit neque minuit significationem exsistentiae humanae. Humana fallibilitas est datum experientiae, quae non oportet effugi. In facie trium tragaediarum, homo potest detegere, reperire verum sensum exsistentiae suae, quod tamen quid obiectivitatis postulat. Unusquisque homo est unicus, non potest substitui vel suppleri. Vita eius non est iterabilis. Responsabilitas, quae dicitur, derivatur quoque ex facto exsistentiali vitae obviam veniendi. Unicitas humana postulat responsabilitatem, quae potest intellegi ut “ad responsum abilitas”, problematibus exsistentiae nostrae quibus responsum debetur vitae. Opportet eum scire quae responsa in decursu vitae danda sint. Dubitandum prorsus non est quin omnis questio verum responsum habeat. Hoc tamen non implicat hominem semper rite meritoque responsum seu solutionem cuique problemati invenire, verum sensum exsistentiae suae reperire. Ast potest accidere quod nec semper sit paratus ad responsa apta danda. E contra, homo fallibilis est. Errare humanum est. Ille debet periculum errandi agnoscere, potest nempe periculo laborare errandi, secundum illud Goethe, “Semper oculum bovis moliri debemus, etsi sciamus non semper eum percellere possimus”, seu, soluto eloquio dicere possumus: semper maxime bonum assequi conandum est, ceteroquin comparate bonum nancisci non poterimus. Ad rem refert quae dicitur “frustratio exsistentialis” seu “frustratio sensus”, quo morbo hodierna societate magnopere laboramus. [4]

2.2: Psychotherapia:

Quid sit psychotherapia, et quanam ratione exerceatur, oportet nunc perscrutari ac perlustrare. Hodie opus est ut addamus alteram dimensionem psychologiae, quam “height-psychology” audit, nempe psychologiam altitudinis psychologiae profunditatis (“depth-psychology”). Haec psychologia debet attendere adspectibus aspirationibusque altioribus. Psychologia profunditatis conferri potest cum pede plano vel hypogeo aedium (ground floor or basement). Necesse est loqui de convictionibus et fidei effatis, quibus vita plurium sublimata et elevata est, quippe quae plures ad unguem elevavit, et ut ita dicam, ad fastigium manuduxit, iis subvenit ad melius nobiliusque vivendum. Opus est loqui neve de materialismo, neve de idealismo, sed de realismo. Novus typus neurosis ‘characterizatur’ absentia alacritatis et initiationis, defectu securitatis instinctivae, iactura illarum traditionum, quae vitam hominis olim, priscis temporibus, moderabantur ac temperabant. Principiis obsta! O tempora, o mores!

Quaestio quae heic ventilatur est: Utrum homo possit potentiam virtualitatesque suas ad actum redigere, an debeat sese exprimere valoribus exsistentialibus, quin virtualitas sit finis sed ad finem medium vel adminiculum. Brevi verbo: Virtualitatis expressio a valoribus humanis regenda est, quin in vim negativam decidat. Principia sui efformationis in bina reduci valent: Primum; principium “form-abilitatis”, quam audit, hominis scilicet abilitas suae vitae configuratione ditari.

Secundum: principium dynamismi sui efformationis semper continuatae. Implicite semper homo suam vitam efformare figurareque conatur. Processus hic holisticus vocatur, quia, capacitate unica transcendendi integrandique praeditus, homo tendit ad vitam suam totam unificandam. Efformatio haec etiam “spiritalis” vocatur.

2.3: Crisis transcendentiae:

Transcendentia est unus de fundamentalibus motibus dynamismi efformationis humanae. In unaquaque persona datur ‘actualizatio’ potentiae ope transitionum ab infima ad altissimam formam vitae. In unaquaque transitione fit “crisis transcendentiae”, quam audit, gradatim et suaviter leniterque, cum clima favet, cum omnia adiuncta arrident. Attamen haec lenta ac suavis progressio dari non potest, si spiritalis efformatio neglegatur. Crisis (ex vocabulo krino, ad litteram significat “vias abire”, “a parting of the ways”), connotat periculum et opportunitatem. Habet duo elementa, videlicet defessionem seu lassitudinem et incertitudinem. Nos reddit angore fractos, implicat amissionem unius formae vitae quae nobis familiaris erat, et optionem alterius formae quae erat forsan nobis extranea. Sinensis sermo habet binos characteres pro voce “crisis”, scilicet pro periculo et pro opportunitate. Praebet ansam pluribus periculis: primo, periculum fixationis ex metu in gradibus vitae non vigentibus, seu vicissim, periculum nimiae reactionis adversus priorem periodum efformationis. Re ipsa hoc conducit ad repudianda priora authentica beneficia pro nostra efformatione. Secundo: periculum exoptandae falsae formae vitae. Tertio: periculum praeteritorum non solutorum problematum et denuo apparentium neurosium. Quarto: periculum defensivae superactivitatis (“withdrawal”) ad crisim effugiendam. Nihilominus, quaedam crisis transcendentiae significat opportunitatem essendi vere humanum, detegendi nostram personalitatem unicam, integrandae incessanter vitae nostrae in sapientia et interioritate (“inwardness”), crescendi opportunitate, in contactum veniendi cum nostro intimissimo se (“deepest self”). Valores ex experientia vitali eruere, excelsioribus valoribus sese imbuere, sapientia crescere, en igitur proiectum vitae. Sui efformatio indiget utique dimensione transcendentali. [5]

Quaestiones in crisi transcendentiae oriuntur: Quid sibi vult vita? Quo eo? Quamne formam debeo dare vitae meae? Possumne adiutorium invenire pro mea directione in traditione efformationis? Sumne deditus huic traditioni? Haecne traditio exprimit aspirationes pro sensu inveniendo? Illa ratio thematum fit pro crisi transcendentiae. Ad formam nostrae vitae effingendam oportet nos scire in quam directionem opus nobis sit progredi. Hanc directionem ad inveniendam scire oportet quid vita pro nobis sonat, et quid discere possimus ex traditione efformativa a nobis selecta de sensu vitae in generali. Logice perinde fluit, et meridiana luce iam apparet, quaestiones de sensu vitae agentes prioritate gaudere, illas autem de directione, efformatione, et traditione efformativa, sequi. In usu vitaque communi, quaestio de directione oritur primo in crisi transcendentiae et durante therapia transcendentiae. Tunc investigabimus praeteritum: Quo ivimus? Quam directionem vita nostra sumpsit? Conspicimusne erga futurum? Quomodo vita nostra moderanda est deinceps, in posterum?

Vita nostra tota consistit in ‘realizatione’ potentiae virtualitatumque nostrarum. Possum esse athleta, philosophus, poeta, pictor, theologus, sacer concionator, scriptor, orator, medicus, musicae cultor, pater, avunculus, seu quilibet alius exsistendi modus. Actualizando potentialitatem meam, ‘actualizo’ mundum meum universumque meum. Nunquam mihi satisfaciet ‘actualizatio’ potentiae meae, quoniam semper superest quod non realizatum, finitum seu completum est. Meum “sane quidem (yes)” meo mundo enuntiatum, continuo indesinenterque urget me et nequit finale esse, vg., cum electrocymbalo (piano) pulso fidiculave (violin) sono, et dein alia experimenta inire mihi placet. Cum potentia sum, non sum veluti spelunca seu saxum in orbe terrarum iners, clausum, sine motu fluxuque, sed concredi possum muneri quod nondum adimpletum est, semper in fieri maneo, semper in occursu cum facultate futurae ‘realizationis’ esse porrigo. Denegare potentialitatem humanam exitiale fieri potest. Si me ducit ad totaliter seu partialiter exitus/successus meos priores paulum vel nihili faciendos/vilipendendos seu renuendos, qui adhuc exitus (achievements) manent, etsi confinibus conscripti; si maneo exitibus meis praeteritis laetus, et ampliorem potentialitatem ‘realizandi’ occasionem nactus minime sum,–tunc depressione, desperatione moeroreque affici possum, aegro animo dedecoreque affectus, crudus, saevus, rebellioni datus maneo. Negatio memetipsius potest me ad necem mihimetipsi conscitam (quae “suicidium” vocabulo infimae latinitatis dicitur), conducere, imago mei (self-image) potest negativa et haud iucunda fieri. In luce meae futurae exsistentiae negare possum praesens et odio habere quod in praesenti momento sum. Odium destructivum et perniciosum est. At persona matura hunc adspectum negativitatis semper magis ut relativitatem experitur. Persona, maturitate emotionali praedita, est bene conscia quod exitus praeteritae vitae sint relativo valore conditi sub luce futurorum eventuum. Haec habitudo ad futurum ‘vitale spatium’ (quod hodie anglico sermone “vital room” vertitur) suppeditat, pacem confert, futuros exitus et gesta admittit, et suimetipsius destructionem seponit.

3.1: Vitae Christianae Ratio:

Responsum, quod lumine effulget, his problematibus, seu potius mysterio existentiae, in nuntio Evangelii suppeditatum offerre satagam. In primis, quid sit vita christiana seu esse christianum, brevibus amplecti possumus verbis. Vita christiana est donum Patris caelestis, qui vitam suam communicat Filio et Spiritui Santo, et ex virtute mortis et Anastaseos (ex graeco verbo, quia vox Resurrectio serioris et infimae latinitatis est) Christi elargitur homini peccatori, eum redimens et hac virtute sanans. Gratia naturam perficit. Deus amor est et amorem suum nobis communicat, Filium suum unigenitum in mundum mittens, ut per eum vivamus (Io 3:16; 1 Io 4:8-10). Origo huius vitae est amor Patris, motus a Patre descendens, qui ad nos in baptismate pervenit et nos intime afficit. Spiritus Dei nobis donatur et eo ipso peccata remittuntur et resanantur, cum omnibus consectariis, sive psychologicis, sive socialibus (cf.Rm 6:3-11; Col 2:12-15). Exinde vi huius participationis homo “nova creatura fit (2 Cor 5:17), et potentia et donis Spiritus pollet (Gal 5:22). Consepultus cum Christo, ille Deo in Spiritu et veritate vivere, et in novitate vitae ambulare exoptat. Vita eius est abscondita cum Christo in Deo (Col 3:3). Ex Deo natus, ex aqua scilicet et ex Spiritu, ille est cum Vite unitus (cf.Io 15:1-8), et dignitate filii Dei gaudet (1 Io 3:1). Ille est divinae consors naturae (2 Pet 1:3). Lumine et pace Christi vivit et haec dona Spiritus, ut gaudium, pacem et libertatem filiorum Dei, aliis exhibet. Nam libertas vera habetur, ubi Spiritus Domini est (2 Cor 3:17b). Amor Dei ad communionem cum illo hominem ducit, et hunc occursum cum eo efficit et continuo pergit. Amor hic est fons et principium vitae, atque utputa clavis et cardo, tenet primatum in vita christiana, inseriturque in substratum physicum, necnon psychophysicum, hominis. Hic occursus amoris datur non modo singillatim cum unoquoque homine, sed globatim, cum communitate scilicet christiana, cum Ecclesia, cuius Caput est Christus. Nova fit tota communitas, a Christo instaurata et ad mundum totum instaurandum missa. Vita nova est donum personale Patris, mysterium participationis vitae Trinitatis, quae ipso facto nova missione nos constituit, nosmetipsos videlicet Deo per Christum donandi et aliis servitium reddendi.[6]

Conclusio: Tandem, humanissime spectatissimeque lector, nostras elucubrationes uno obtutu ut conspiciamus operam dare oportet. Exsistentia nostra est spatio-temporalis, in spatio et tempore reposita/locata. Pro unoquoque nostrum, uti supra enodavi, stat “proiectum vitae”, sive consilium quod a nobis in decursu annorum adimplendum restat. Hoc inceptum exsistentiale fundamentaliter est “proiectum”, in quo nostra ratio agendi cogitandique praestat omnibus aliis rationibus modisque essendi in mundo. Optio vocationalis alicuius connotat modum centralem essendi qui afficit omnes alios modos exsistentiales. Haec optio fundamentalis in sphera religionis est procul dubio fructus Gratiae, quae uti solet varietate experientiarum exsistentialium pro hominibus resanandis perficiendisque pro novis modis Novi Foederis, a Christo instaurati. In Ecclesia quae est praesentia Christi, omnibus hominibus ‘mediatizatur’ per sodales Mystici Corporis Christi. Opus est nos nostram praesentiam aliis in quodam stylo vitae praebere. Nostra “incarnatio” personalis rationis essendi vivendique est non modo desiderabilis, sed admodum necessaria. Huc spectat eloquium hodiernum quod saepissime in scriptis sacerdotum nostrorum refertur, scilicet “Abba-experientia” quam audiunt. Novum Foedus est dispensatio Spiritus Dei qui omnia renovat et nos perfectione amoris resarcit.

Ad rem quoque attinet effatum nostrum, nempe novam societatem exstruendi, ope nostri testimonii verbi servitiique, ut nova postulant tempora, monumentum et signum nostrae transformationis est societas nova, opus fidei quae per amorem operatur (Gal 5:6). Coronidis instar, mihi placet commendare quod pondere momentoque gaudet, iuxta illud Beati Pauli, “quaecumque sunt vera, quaecumque iusta, quaecumque amabilia, si qua virtus, si qua laus disciplinae, haec cogitate” (Phil 4:8). Meminisse me iuvat “Christum habitare per fidem in cordibus vestris, in caritate radicati et fundati, ut possitis comprehendere cum omnibus sanctis, quae sit latitudo et longitudo, et sublimitas et profundum” (Eph 3:17f.). Vita nostra est testimonium illis qui nos adspiciunt, et animadvertunt utrum nos in veritate ambulamus, an non; utrum crescimus “in mensuram aetatis plenitudinis Christi” (Eph 4:13), necne. Ut nos ditasset pauper factus est Christus, ut ait Beatus Paulus: “quoniam propter vos egenus factus est, cum esset dives, ut illius inopia vos divites essetis” (2 Cor 8:9). Quod psychologia exsistentialis nobis proponit nosque docet, hoc Iesus nobis abunde obtulit, sicut promisit: ”Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant” (Io 10:10). Ut Beatus Augustinus, rationem humanam in corde suo maxime acriterque expertus, venuste pulcherrimeque quam maxime refert, et nobis summarium supplicationis Novi Foederis porgit: “Da quod iubes, et iube quod vis” (Conf.X, 29,40; MPL 32, 796). Vexilla nostrae identitatis christianae in vita amoris reponuntur. En mysterium Christotherapiae, quo amore ille nos sanat omnique ex parte reficit. Haec est ratio revelandi generi humano sponsionem nostram,–quae aptius vertitur Francogallica voce: “engagement”–, in re publica, omnibus nos circumdantibus. Omnes insani impensique labores nostri fructum minime afferent, si amor iis non comitatur. In hoc elucet quod Horatius cum lepore conscripsit: “Parturiunt montes: nascetur ridiculus mus”. Frustra laborant homines si Deus iis praesens non fit (cf.Ps 127:1). Faxit Deus ut nova oriatur societas, quae, quae sursum sunt, sapiat (cf.Col 3:2), et sicut luminare lucens, serviat Domino in laetitia! Utinam nos qui haec scripta legimus, fructum maximum carpamus et novae societatis artifices efficiamur…

Summary: Fr.Ivo da C.Souza is a Professor of Biblical Exegesis and Sociology in the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol. He is a biblical scholar and a theologian. He did his Licenciate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (PIB), Rome, and his Thesis under the direction of the Professor of the Biblicum, Prof.Stanislas LYONNET, on “The New Covenant in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. A theologico-exegetical Investigation on 2 Cor 3:1-4:6 and 5:14-21”, with his research in targumic literature. Also he has a Licenciate in Systematic Theology at the University of St.Thomas, Rome. He did M.A. in Sociology at the University of Mysore, Manasagangotri. He has also Diploma in Psychology and Journalism, New Delhi. He is also Secretary of the Theological Commission of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI). He has written in several languages for philosophical, theological, sociological and historical reviews. He has taken part in national and international seminars. He knows 15 languages. He is a musician, having composed several hymns and songs, and written lyrics and music for three operettas in Konkani. The Author writes in Latin, that he learnt with enthusiasm in the Seminary of Saligão-Pilerne, about the Christian life in the light of the modern, existential psychology. Experience is the kernel of Christian life. The “core” of human experience is transformed by the Grace of Christ, so that what we experience is truly and really the dominion of the Spirit that is handled by us according to the use or misuse of our freedom. Existential psychology sheds its light on the Christian experience.

Sommaire: L’Auteur cherche de jaillir de la lumiere sur un theme d’actualite, c’est-a-dire de demontrer comme la vie chretienne peut etre expliquee a la lumiere de la psychologie d’aujourd’hui. L’experience est la moelle de la vie chretienne. L’essence de l’experience humaine est transformee par la Grace du Christ, en telle façon que nous pouvons sentir le domaine de l’Esprit en nous, dans nos coeurs, nous povuns menager mieux notre liberte. A psychologie existentielle jaillit boucoup de lumiere en notre experience chretienne.

Sommario: L’Autore cerca di mettere piu luce su un tema ‘d’attualita, cioe, de dismostrare comme la vita cristiana puo essere intesa a la luce della psychologia odierna. L’esperienza e la medulla della vita cristiana. L’essenza della esperienza umana e trasformata dalla Grazia del Cristo in un modo mirabile che noi possiamo gustare il dominio del Spirito in noi, nei nostril cuori, noi possiamo regulare la nostra liberta umana. La p[sychologia existenziale getta molta luce sulla nostra esperienza umana.


[1] Viktor E.FRANKL, Psychotherapy and Existentialism.Selected Papers on Logotherapy, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1967, pp.13-28

[2]Adrian L.van Kaam, The Art of Existential Counseling; A New Perspective in Psychotherapy, Denville, New Jersey: Dimension Books, Inc., 1966; Idem, ”Existential Theory and Therapy”, Foundations for Personality Study.An Adrian van Kaam Reader,Dimension Books, Inc., Denville, New Jersey, 1963/1983, pp.134-140

[3] Adrian L.van Kaam, “The Goals of Psychotherapy from the Existential Point of View”, Foundations for Personality Study, 1963/1983, pp.404-419, cf.p.404

[4] Adrian L.van Kaam, “The Goals of Psychotherapy from the Existential Point of View”, Foundations for Personality Study, 1963/1983, “The Vocational Director and Counseling”, 1962, pp.583-603

[5] Richard M.Ryckman, Theories of Personality, Seventh Edition, Wodswaorth, Belmont, 2000, pp.631-674

[6] Cf.P.Carolus Vladimirus Truhlar, SI, Structura Theologica Vitae Spiritualis, Collectanea Spiritualis 7, Apud Eades Universitatis Gregorianae, Romae, 1958, 17-61; 63-9; inprimis, pp.109.