Toward a Causal Account of Priestly Formation

A Reading of Pastores Dabo Vobis

Pope St. John Paul II published Pastores dabo vobis on March 25, 1992, when the Church celebrates the Annunciation, the initial moment of the Incarnation. No doubt he chose this date deliberately — and fittingly so. For when a man enters seminary to undergo priestly formation, he commences a process of gestation in the womb of Mother Church whereby he develops into a fit vessel to be equipped with the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In seminary — in this “seedbed” — the young man should prepare himself to be an alter Christus, another Christ, after the manner of an ordained priest. As John Paul puts it, “[P]riests are called to prolong the presence of Christ, the one high priest, embodying his way of life and making him visible in the midst of the flock entrusted to their care.”1 The publication of Pastores dabo vobis spurred a re-evaluation and, in many instances, an overhaul of formation programs in seminaries around the world — a process that is still only in its infancy.

I work as Director of Intellectual Formation at Holy Trinity Seminary, a minor seminary adjacent to the University of Dallas. I’ve witnessed firsthand how the wisdom and anthropological insight of John Paul touches the hearts and minds of young men preparing for priesthood. When new men begin orientation in the seminary in August, I present an overview of intellectual formation as envisioned in Pastores dabo vobis and the Program of Priestly Formation. I work hard not to overwhelm these wide-eyed young men — many are barely 18! — for whom the words “philosophy” and “theology” are sometimes daunting. To be fair, though, they are excited by the prospect of starting university studies with a view to becoming liberally educated and partaking in the wealth of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

This annual task during orientation has compelled me to ponder the process of priestly formation as a whole and especially how it integrates the four dimensions or pillars of formation. One thing I notice every year is this: if it isn’t clear to these young men at the very outset of their seminary career, it becomes clear soon after that academics is going to occupy a whole lot of their time over the next six to eight years. To be sure, during their seminary career, these young men will spend time building up their characters, growing in a life of worship and prayer, and acquiring skills in order to minister to the people of God. They will, in other words, be formed humanly, spiritually, and pastorally. But they will spend a very large portion of their time as students, student chiefly of philosophy and theology, i.e., in order to be formed well intellectually.

Any decent philosopher knows, though, that what someone spends the most time doing is rarely the most important and essential activity that person does. A professor spends more time preparing for class and grading tests and essays than engaging in teaching itself, i.e., directly forming the minds and hearts of students in the classroom and during office hours. The case of a priest is no different. The priest’s most important and essential activities are performing sacrifice and forgiving sins — saying Mass and hearing confessions—but he doesn’t necessarily spend most of his time doing these. Even in the Mass itself, the most important and essential moment, that of the consecration, seems just that: a brief moment relative to the preparation for it through the proclamation of the Word and the Eucharistic prayer.

My point is this, then: we cannot say that priestly formation is integrated in a hierarchical manner by looking at time stamps and ranking the dimensions of formation in order of “net time per pillar.” To be sure, by that measure intellectual formation would likely be on top. In fact, I think we go wrong whenever we try to establish a hierarchy among the dimensions or pillars of formation. Doing so is likely to highlight the importance of some facet of formation at the cost of some other one.

To understand priestly formation more deeply, then, I propose that we approach its integration in a more philosophic manner — an approach that I suspect the great philosopher-Pope John Paul himself took in writing Pastores dabo vobis. In this case it means inquiring into the essential integration of priestly formation along causal lines, thereby clarifying its causal structure. In other words, we would do well to consider the integration of priestly formation from a causal perspective, not a hierarchical one. In what follows, then, I carry out a causal analysis of priestly formation. The fact that there are four dimensions of formation naturally invites such an analysis, given the traditional four causes, and yet I have yet to see the dimensions of formation explicated along these lines. And yet I believe John Paul himself deliberately — or perhaps out of “philosophic habit” — framed priestly formation in this fourfold manner.

A causal understanding of the integrity of formation should enhance the way formators, professors, and others involved in seminary work undertake their roles. Isn’t it always a bonus to know what one is about as much as possible and thus to recognize with greater clarity the specific contribution one is making? It seems to me, moreover, that understanding the fourfold causality involved in formation, or at least some such account, helps to keep the dimensions from trespassing into each other’s domains when, for instance, one dimension tries to achieve an end or play a role that belongs more properly to another dimension. Some principle of differentiation and mutuality may prove helpful, then, to prevent “dimensional trespassing.”

Now, the four causes are, of course, the material, the formal, the efficient, and the final. My contention is that in Pastores dabo vobis, John Paul enumerates the dimensions of formation in an order that corresponds to this traditional listing of the causes. Human formation, then, bears on material causality; spiritual formation, on formal causality; intellectual formation, on efficient causality; and pastoral formation, on final causality. I don’t think these correspondences are surprising, except perhaps that of intellectual formation with efficient causality, and so I particularly hope to make sense of that interesting correspondence in its turn.

Before explicating the dimensions themselves, I want to acknowledge two practical points The first is this: in the day-to-day activities of priestly formation, it is difficult — if not simply impossible — to tease apart the four dimensions. Existentially speaking, the four dimensions are deeply intertwined. This is one reason, in fact, why understanding the integration of formation along causal lines is illuminating, because in giving rise to an effect, the four causes always work in concert with each other, and so the whole effect is explained only when all four are invoked. Practically and institutionally speaking, of course, we do — indeed, we must — treat the four dimensions as distinct, since progress is best achieved when a seminarian hones in on this or that specific aspect of his development. These necessary, practical distinctions, however, should not lead us to overlook the integral unity of priestly formation as a process.

The second point is this: the seminarian himself is primarily responsible for his formation. Formation succeeds only when a seminarian undertakes it deliberately and freely. This is not to discount formators, professors, and others involved in seminary work; they are, of course, indispensable. They act as dispositive causes who provide guidance, encouragement, correction, redirection, and the like. Causally speaking, then, formation depends chiefly on the seminarian himself assisted by formators, professors, and others. My analysis here, then, aims to reveal the different causal dimensions according to which a seminarian undertakes his own formation within a framework of helpers. The questions behind my analysis here, then, could be put thus: How should a seminarian prepare himself for ministerial priesthood, materially speaking, formally speaking, efficiently speaking, and teleologically speaking? In addition, regarding those who assist the seminarian, how should they dispose him for ministerial priesthood, materially, formally, efficiently, and teleologically?

Now, the language of formation lends itself to imagining it as an artistic process, the exercise of some art or craft whereby a certain material is molded by someone into a prescribed shape in order to serve a given purpose. This is partially true; certainly human artifice, in the best sense of that word, is at work in priestly formation. But, as I indicated at the very beginning, it may be better to imagine it more as a gestational process, a process of natural development and organic growth. The seed of a vocational word is planted within the seminarian, and his task and that of his formators and others is to draw that seed into full blossom. At the end of this paper I will allude to a way of conceiving formation more along these humanly organic lines.

Human formation

Human formation concerns the matter or material of priestly formation. Among the four dimensions of formation, the correlation of human formation to material causality is perhaps the easiest to see. “‘The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation.’”2 Thus John Paul begins his treatment of human formation in Pastores dabo vobis, quoting the words of the synod fathers. Human formation is the “necessary foundation” — basis, in Latin — of priestly formation. Human formation disposes the underlying, the subject, the male human being as such, for ministerial priesthood.

John Paul nuances this immediately, though, providing a Christological lens through which one should see human formation and, in turn, priestly formation as a whole. He writes:

The priest, who is called to be a “living image” of Jesus Christ, head and shepherd of the Church, should seek to reflect in himself, as far as possible, the human perfection which shines forth in the incarnate Son of God and which is reflected with particular liveliness in his attitudes toward others as we see narrated in the Gospels.3

Jesus Christ’s humanity was complete, perfect, fully worked out. In his youth he grew in wisdom and stature and grace before God and man. Such maturation into his humanity allowed his ministry to be effective. His presence was authoritative; the crowds had never witnessed anyone like him.

The seminarian, too, should see his human nature as something to be perfected or completed for its own sake as well as for becoming a fit vessel of ministerial priesthood. “Future priests should therefore cultivate a series of human qualities,” John Paul says, “not only out of proper and due growth and realization of self, but also with a view to the ministry.”4 What, then, constitutes the realization of human perfection that in turn becomes a basis for priestly ministry? In a nutshell, a life of virtue or excellence, especially expressed in human relationality, that is rooted in affective maturity. Affective maturity provides a natural, psychological foundation of healthy inclinations or loves upon which a life of moral and relational excellence can be built. Through human formation, therefore, the seminarian exercises and hones his psychic and moral potentialities, freeing them to reach their natural and virtuous ends, so that he can serve as a bridge for others to Christ.

Spiritual formation

From a causal perspective, it is unsurprising that after human formation, which disposes the seminarian materially, John Paul treats spiritual formation, which disposes him formally. Pairing the material and formal dimensions together makes sense, of course, since the former is the proper potentiality to be actualized by the latter. John Paul’s opening words concerning spiritual formation suggest precisely this hylomorphic relationship: “Human formation, when it is carried out in the context of an anthropology which is open to the full truth regarding the human person, leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation.”5 Moreover, if this hylomorphic relationship is understood along organic lines, then spiritual formation should be seen as the “soul” of formation. In fact, the following passage bears this out:

And just as for all the faithful spiritual formation is central and unifies their being and living as Christians, that is, as new creatures in Christ who walk in the Spirit, so too for every priest his spiritual formation is the core which unifies and gives life to his being a priest and his acting as a priest.6

In dealing with spiritual formation, then, we should ask ourselves: Toward what should affective maturity and moral excellence be led? How are affective maturity and moral excellence to be completed?

Were I to sum up John Paul’s answers to these questions, and thus summarize his understanding of spiritual formation, I would say this: spiritually speaking, the seminarian should achieve union with God through Christ supported by a well-formed religious disposition. Indeed, these two aspects of spiritual formation—charity undergirded by religion—are suggested by John Paul when he addresses the seminarian’s spiritual growth. “The educational process of a spiritual life,” he writes, “seen as a relationship and communion with God, derives and develops from this fundamental and irrepressible religious need.”7 The human orientation toward the transcendent, which constitutes our natural religious capacity, is specified in Christianity by a life of charity, i.e., loving union with God. Thus, citing the Second Vatican Council’s Optatam totius, John Paul says:

Spiritual formation . . . should be conducted in such a way that the students may learn to live in intimate and unceasing union with God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Those who are to take on the likeness of Christ the priest by sacred ordination should form the habit of drawing close to him as friends in every detail of their lives.8

A little later, referring to Optatam totius again, John Paul indicates the religious expression that this friendship with Christ can permeate and elevate:

The decree Optatam totius would seem to indicate a triple path to be covered [in seeking Christ]: a faithful meditation on the word of God, active participation in the Church’s holy mysteries and the service of charity to the “little ones.” These are three great values and demands which further define the content of the spiritual formation of the candidate to the priesthood.9

Charitable union with the Father through Christ, which bespeaks maturity in prayer and contemplation, finds religious embodiment in meditation on the Scriptures, liturgical celebration, and ministry to the impoverished. Hence the seminarian, psychologically sound and morally upright, opens himself up to and is completed by the theological virtue of charity and the acquired virtue of religion, the crown of all the moral virtues. Such is the combined goal of human and spiritual formation, which disposes the seminarian hylomorphically for ministerial priesthood.

Before moving on to intellectual formation, a last word about spiritual formation. As I said, taking a cue from John Paul, spiritual formation appears to the be soul of priestly formation. What does this mean? In part it means that without spiritual formation, the other dimensions of formation are likely to lose their vitality, the vitality they receive by being placed on a trajectory toward a transcendent God, God the Father, through Jesus Christ. Human formation, for instance, is likely to become merely the acquisition of natural virtue for its own sake. Intellectual formation is likely to become a sort of training for life or a career. And pastoral formation is likely to become something closer to preparation for social work. Spiritual formation is the vine from which the other dimensions of formation draw life. Growth in charity and the acquisition of the virtue of religion, then, give shape to the other dimensions of formation, animating them with a distinctively Christian vitality.

Intellectual formation

John Paul was a philosopher. He was also a professor. He valued the intellectual life. No doubt he reflected deeply on the significant role it played in his own priestly formation and his subsequent priestly ministry. As I interpret it, intellectual formation disposes the seminarian efficiently, as an efficient cause, in his preparation for ministerial priesthood. It provides him, in other words, with the drive, the engine, the underlying energy, to exercise ministerial priesthood.

John Paul’s first words regarding intellectual formation situate it in relation to the other dimensions of formation. He says:

Intellectual formation has its own characteristics, but it is also deeply connected with, and indeed can be seen as a necessary expression of, both human and spiritual formation: It is a fundamental demand of the human intelligence by which one “participates in the light of God’s mind” and seeks to acquire a wisdom which in turn opens to and is directed toward knowing and adhering to God.10

For the seminarian preparing for priesthood, especially in our day, this deep human desire for truth and wisdom ought to be oriented toward addressing a dire pastoral situation. John Paul depicts it thus:

The present situation is heavily marked by religious indifference, by a widespread mistrust regarding the real capacity of reason to reach objective and universal truth, and by fresh problems and questions brought up by scientific and technological discoveries. It strongly demands a high level of intellectual formation . . . Moreover, there is the present phenomenon of pluralism . . . It demands special attention to critical discernment: It is a further reason showing the need for an extremely rigorous intellectual formation.11

Marked as it is by indifference and a consequent relativism, the current intellectual climate places heavy expectations on the seminarian’s intellectual formation.

In contrast to indifference and relativism, the seminarian’s intellectual formation should instill confidence in his ability to achieve truth and the drive to do so. This, in turn, should impel the other dimensions of formation. As John Paul puts it:

The commitment to study, which takes up no small part of the time of those preparing for the priesthood, is not in fact an external and secondary dimension of their human, Christian, spiritual and vocational growth. In reality, through study, especially the study of theology, the future priest assents to the word of God, grows in his spiritual life and prepares himself to fulfill his pastoral ministry. This is the many sided and unifying scope of the theological study indicated by the Council.12

This driving and unifying role of intellectual formation might be summarized in a single word, a word that appears 17 times in John Paul’s treatment of intellectual formation: studium, “study.” Studium, of course, comes from the verb studere, meaning to strive, to struggle, to go after eagerly, to pursue with seriousness. Understanding studium or study along these lines suggests how the seminarian’s engagement in intellectual formation serves as the agent or efficient cause of his overall formation. The deep desire for wisdom — philosophical eros, as the Greeks understood it — when embraced deliberately and diligently, strengthens the seminarian to strive for truth and to adhere to it when found — the truth about himself, about God, about his neighbor, and about all other created realities.

One might imagine it this way: real study — the eager, serious, disciplined pursuit of truth and knowledge — serves as the “bonding agent,” the “glue,” of formation. It congeals the other dimensions of formation into a unified whole. There are at least three reasons for this: first, because real study demands discipline of both mind and body; second, because real study enables the seminarian to penetrate and understand the other dimensions of formation, thus enabling him to appropriate them, to make them more deeply his own; and, third, because real study develops in the seminarian a seriousness regarding truth and a strong adherence to it that will underlie all that he carries out ministerially as a priest. In preparing to become in a unique way an alter Christus, the seminarian comes to understand the powerful words that Jesus declared to Pilate: “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37).

As with the other dimensions of formation, intellectual formation too has a twofold aspect, namely, philosophical study followed by theological study. The former solidifies one’s deployment of natural reason for the sake of truth, whereas the latter springs from faith and in turn strengthens faith. Both, moreover, should be undertaken with eros, with a focused intensity of seeking. Indeed, notice how intently the deeply erotic thinker John Paul speaks about this in a beautiful passage concerning philosophical inquiry:

Philosophy greatly helps the candidate to enrich his intellectual formation in the “cult of truth,” namely, in a kind of loving veneration of the truth, which leads one to recognize that the truth is not created or measured by man but is given to man as a gift by the supreme truth, God; that, albeit in a limited way and often with difficulty, human reason can reach objective and universal truth, even that relating to God and the radical meaning of existence; and that faith itself cannot do without reason and the effort of “thinking through” its contents, as that great mind Augustine bore witness: “I wished to see with my mind what I have believed, and I have argued and labored greatly.”13

Notice here the religious character of the seminarian’s philosophical studies. Undoubtedly such an approach to intellectual formation is grounded in the union with God and religious devotion that spiritual formation builds up, and it is oriented by the love of neighbor that pastoral formation develops.

The same intensity of seeking, the same erotic disposition, ought to mark the seminarian’s theological studies. In this case friendship with Christ clearly underlies the task of faith seeking understanding. John Paul writes:

[S]ince the faith, which is the point of departure and the point of arrival of theology, brings about a personal relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ in the Church, theology also has intrinsic Christological and ecclesial connotations, which the candidate to the priesthood should take up consciously. . . . If our faith truly welcomes the word of God, it will lead to a radical “yes” on the part of the believer to Jesus Christ, who is the full and definitive Word of God to the world (cf. Heb. 1:1ff.). As a result, theological reflection is centered on adherence to Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God: mature reflection has to be described as a sharing in the “thinking” of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:16) in the human form of a science.14

John Paul no doubt experienced personally how his own intellectual seeking, his personal pursuit of truth, solidified his life of virtue, energized his life of prayer and devotion, and strengthened his shepherding of souls. And thus in these passages from Pastores dabo vobis, at least as I read them, he highlights how the seminarian is disposed effectively, as an agent of truth, by philosophical and theological study, in order to carry out ministerial priesthood as fruitfully as he can.

Pastoral formation

Thus far we have addressed the material, formal, and efficient aspects of formation. What remains, of course, is its teleological aspect. In one sense it is easy to articulate the final cause: formation aims at ministerial priesthood, at the seminarian’s becoming a pastor or shepherd of souls. John Paul makes this clear up front, using teleological language to do so:

The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the good shepherd. Hence their formation in its different aspects must have a fundamentally pastoral character.15

He says, moreover, that this pastoral telos determines the contours of the other dimensions of formation:

The Council text [Optatam totius] insists upon the coordination of the different aspects of human, spiritual and intellectual formation. At the same time it stresses that they are all directed to a specific pastoral end. This pastoral aim ensures that the human, spiritual and intellectual formation has certain precise content and characteristics; it also unifies and gives specificity to the whole formation of future priests.16

This much, I think, is obvious. Clearly the seminarian’s formation is oriented toward becoming, like Christ, a priest, prophet, and king who offers sacrifice, teaches and preaches, and governs the souls under his care.

The question I want consider here, however, concerns not so much the telos of formation as a whole, but more how that telos makes its presence felt in formation. John Paul’s answer to this question has two aspects: first, a description of what the seminarian ought to achieve through pastoral formation and, second, a specification of the fitting mode of pastoral work that a seminarian undertakes.

With regard to what the seminarian ought to achieve pastorally during his formation period, John Paul says the following:

Pastoral study and action direct one to an inner source, which the work of formation will take care to guard and make good use of: This is the ever-deeper communion with the pastoral charity of Jesus . . . It is a question of a type of formation meant not only to ensure scientific, pastoral competence and practical skill, but also and especially a way of being in communion with the very sentiments and behavior of Christ the good shepherd.17

A little further on John Paul adds:

[P]astoral formation certainly cannot be reduced to a mere apprenticeship, aiming to make the candidate familiar with some pastoral techniques. The seminary which educates must seek really and truly to initiate the candidate into the sensitivity of being a shepherd.18ormatio pastoralis intellegitur, nequit profecto redigi ad tirocinii cuiusdam modum, quasi presbytero sufficiat familiarem sibi fecisse aliquam praxim pastoralem. Quod pro Seminario hic de educatione proponitur, veram suscipit initiationem ad pastoris sentiendi rationem.]

It is striking to me that in these passages John Paul de-emphasizes learning certain skills, as it were, of pastoral ministry while emphasizing the development of a pastoral heart, a heart like unto that of the one Good Shepherd. No doubt this captures something of what he meant at the very opening of the section on pastoral formation when he spoke of the seminarian “enter[ing] into communion with the charity of Christ the good shepherd.”19

Now, when it comes to the fitting mode of the seminary’s pastoral work, John Paul seems aware of a certain danger, one that I myself have seen. I say this primarily from the perspective of one who works with undergraduate seminarians, although I imagine it may be applicable as well among those in their early years of studying theology. John Paul cautions against the seminarian’s becoming too involved in pastoral ministry to the detriment of the rest of his formation, in particular his studies. He makes this point well in this following passage:

The study of pastoral theology should throw light upon its practical application through involvement in certain pastoral services which the candidates to the priesthood should carry out, with a necessary progression and always in harmony with their other educational commitments. It is a question of pastoral “experiences,” which can come together in a real program of “pastoral training,” which can last a considerable amount of time and the usefulness of which will itself need to be checked in an orderly manner.20

The seminarian’s pastoral work should not swallow up his focus and thus take away from his participation in the other dimensions of formation. This does not mean, of course, that pastoral formation is not to be taken seriously; clearly this is not what John Paul is saying. It means, however, that pastoral formation should involve “experiences.” The Latin word translated as “experiences” is experimenta. One might even think of translating — and understanding — this literally as “experiments.” This seems truer to me by clarifying the mode of the seminarian’s pastoral work; it should be “experimental” in character. This provides for the seminarian a “taste” for pastoral work while enabling his formators to determine whether and how the seminarian can grow into his future role as an imitator of Christ the Good Shepherd.

I might add that I was recently talking to the rector of a seminary about this question concerning the mode of a seminarian’s pastoral work and the way John Paul seems to warn against “too much too soon.” This rector replied that, yes, he understood all the points that John Paul was trying to make in calling for limits on pastoral work by seminarians. Still, the rector quickly added, the real reason for holding back seminarians from too much pastoral work too soon is that it is dangerous! They could do some real damage!

* * * * * * *

Recently I reread with my student-seminarians John Paul’s remarkably deep and well-crafted book Gift and Mystery. I was reading it, in fact, when I first began to write this essay. The two texts resonate with each other. Pastores dabo vobis provides a more objective and instructional account of priestly formation and a general vision of the priesthood, while Gift and Mystery offers a personal testament of perhaps the most accomplished man and priest of the last several centuries, who nonetheless retained a purity and simplicity of heart that allowed him to penetrate and articulate limpidly the essences of things.

I believe that Pastores dabo vobis proposes a highly integrated vision of priestly formation and that scores of priests in the coming years will be eternally grateful to the saintly Pope who published it.  We should not forget, as Gift and Mystery reveals, that the author of Pastores dabo vobis went through an underground seminary in an occupied Poland. Perhaps John Paul would not have arrived at the clear vision of priestly formation laid out in Pastores dabo vobis apart from this experience. Indeed, perhaps the barebones structure of his seminary life enabled the young Karol Wojtyla to encounter priestly formation in its simplified essence and then, so many decades later, to articulate its essence in an integrated fashion according to its four dimensions: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. The mature John Paul the philosopher, of course, did not order these dimensions haphazardly; no, he did so deliberately, inasmuch as these four dimensions come together after the manner of distinct but interrelated causes — material, formal, efficient, and final. Together these causes constitute a holistic process of graced human development that disposes a young man to be an alter Christus as an ordained priest.

I imagine, then, that in Cracow, Poland, living in an occupied land, bereft of mother, father, and brother, empty-handed before God, Karol Wojtyla experienced firsthand this essential fourfold structure of priestly formation, one that for a philosopher seeking wisdom like himself would have struck him as causally integrated. For in that structure we see the four basic loves that define human life addressed and matured by each dimension of formation: love of self, love of God, love of truth, and love of neighbor. Not only future priests, but in fact any human being would benefit by strengthening and perfecting these four basic loves in ourselves, and we can thank John Paul for having called our attention to the intelligibility of every person’s ongoing formation.

  1. Pastores dabo vobis (henceforth, “PDV”), §15: Vocantur igitur presbyteri ad protrahendam Christi praesentiam, unius Pastoris Summi, idque faciunt Eum per vitae genus imitantes et evadentes imagines, illius instar, in medio grege ipsis concredito. The English version of PDV can be found at http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031992_pastores-dabo-vobis.html. I am providing the official Latin version as well, since at times it articulates things with greater precision.
  2. PDV, §43: «Absque opportuna humana formatione tota sacerdotalis formatio careret basi».
  3. PDV, §43: Nam presbyter, qui ideo efformatur ut «viva imago» evadat Christi Iesu, Ecclesiae Capitis et Pastoris, eam debet attingere humanam perfectionem quae in Filio Dei, homine facto, splendet, quaeque singulari nitore perlucet in eiusdem cum aliis consuetudine, prout ab Evangelistis nobis transmittitur.
  4. PDV, §43: At non proinde ob hanc unice sui ipsius iustam maturationem haec omnia procuranda sunt, sed respiciendum maxime ad futuri ministerii qualitatem.
  5. PDV, §45: Ipsa autem humana formatio, si tamen ea comparatur in contextu anthropologiae quae totam respiciat hominis «veritatem», aperienda et complenda est per formationem spiritualem.
  6. PDV, §45: Atque, ut pro quovis christifideli omnis efformatio spiritualis centrum et unitatem reponat necesse est in eorum «christianos esse» et «christiane vivere», id est, ut nova in Christo enascatur creatura quae per Spiritum incedat, ita pro presbytero eo portendenda spiritualis institutio est ut ipsa fiat velut cor, quod unitatem vitamque conferat iis omnibus per quae presbyter dicitur et est.
  7. PDV, §45: Movetur hinc, ab hac scilicet fundamentali et minime abroganda religionis exigentia, iter illud educativum per quod instruenda est — atque ea potissimum formatio spiritualis dicitur — via relationis et communionis cum Deo.
  8. PDV, §45: «Institutio spiritualis … ita impertiatur ut alumni cum Patre, per Filium Eius Iesum Christum, in Spiritu Sancto familiari et assidua societate vivere discant. Per sacram ordinationem Christo Sacerdoti configurandi, etiam intima totius vitae consortione, ut amici, Ei adhaerere assuescant».
  9. PDV, §46: Conciliare decretum «Optatam Totius» triplicem designare viam videtur cum haec deinceps innuit: «Fidelem verbi Dei meditationem; active in sacrosanctis Ecclesiae mysteriis interesse; caritatis servitia erga tenuiores vel “parvulos” amplecti». Id est, cum enuntiat tres altioris pretii valores, per quos institutio spiritualis candidatorum sacerdotii ulterius describitur.
  10. PDV, §51: Formatio intellectualis, licet suam habeat peculiaritatem, sic cum formatione humana et spirituali connectitur, ut earum necessaria significatio fiat: sese enim ita fingit tanquam necessariam intellectus postulationem, per quam homo «divinae mentis lumen participat» et eam proinde sapientiam adipisci conatur quae vicissim vias detegat ad Deum vere inveniendum Eique plene adhaerendum.
  11. PDV, §51: Hodiernarum autem rerum condicio, graviter per indifferentiam religiosam sauciata, et simul per fiduciae crisim erga veram rationis capacitatem veritatem obiectivam et universalem assequendi, immo, per nova illa problemata et subtiliores quaestiones quas secum ferunt inventa scientifica et technologica nuperrime increbrescentia, excellentius exigit vel profundius formationis intellectualis exemplar. … His illud adiungatur quod ex eo phaenomeno quod hodie pluralismus dicitur provenit; qui pluralismus … peculiarem expostulare videtur criticae discretionis aptitudinem: eaque difficultas nova fit causa cur exigentior in dies formatio intellectualis sit perspicienda.
  12. PDV, §51: Unde studendi alacritas, quae maior portio est vitae illius qui sese ad sacerdotium comparat, nullatenus censenda est exterior quaedam vel secundaria pars maturationis humanae, christianae, spiritualis et vocationalis; re vera, per studium, theologiae praesertim, futurus sacerdos, adhaeret Verbo Dei, incrementa quotidie affert vitae suae spirituali, aptior in dies fit ad pastorale munus suscipiendum. Atque is est multiplex et unius conspectus finis quem studiis theologicis Concilium assignat.
  13. PDV, §53: Philosophia haud parvo est auxilio in formatione intellectuali candidati augenda «cultu veritatis», quadam videlicet amanti veneratione veritatis, quae efficit ut veritatem homines dispiciant non veluti rem ab homine creatam et ad mensuram perductam, sed homini dono datam a Deo, qui est Ipse summa Veritas; et ipsam humanam rationem, licet difficulter saepe limitibus adstrictam, veritatem obiectivam et universalem nancisci posse, illam saltem quae ad Deum respicit et radicalem propriae existentiae sensum; neque fidem posse rationem et laborem «ratiocinandi» circa sui ipsius ambitum neglegere, ut egregie testata est acutissima divi Augustini mens: «Desideravi intellectu videre quod credidi, et multum disputavi et laboravi».
  14. PDV, §53: Sicuti fides, in quam theologia exitum simul et adventum habet, personalem credentis rationem aperit cum Christo, in Ecclesia, ita et theologia intrinsecas secum fert notas christologicas et ecclesiales, quas petitor sacerdotii scienter assumat necesse est. … Si Dei Verbi acceptatio est fides, eo ipso convertitur in credentis radicale responsum Christo Iesu datum, qui Verbum Dei est plenum ac definitivum mundo traditum. Consequitur ut reflexio theologica nullibi centrum sui reperire possit nisi in Christo Iesu Dei Sapientia: itemque consequitur ut ipsa maturior commentatio habenda sit velut participatio cogitationis Christi eadem ratione ac nascuntur humanae aliae scientiae.
  15. PDV, §57: Diuturna iuvenum, qui ad sacerdotium vocantur, formatio eo tendit ut illi, qua possunt ratione, Christi Boni Pastoris caritatem participare addiscant. Huiusmodi ergo formatio, magis quam alii omnes aspectus, hunc praecipuum habeat necesse est, characterem quem dicimus pastoralem.
  16. PDV, §57: Idemque Concilii decretum insistit in commendanda coniunctione quae vigeat oportet inter varios formationis aspectus: humanum, spiritualem, intellectualem; iis haud exceptis, quae ad propositum pastorale proprie pertinent. Ita finis pastoralis humanam et spiritalem formationem quibusdam instruit propriisque notis, quemadmodum unam facit et definitam institutionem eorum qui futuri sunt sacerdotes.
  17. PDV, §57: Studium vero et pastoralis navitas remittunt ad interiorem fontem, quem ars educandi custodiendum et laudandum curabit: qui fons est communio in dies profundior cum caritate pastorali ipsius Iesu …. Haec est formatio, cuius non solum est suppeditare doctam artem pastoralem agendique peritiam, sed etiam, et quidem in primis confirmare et incrementis augere rationem illam qua vivit, coniunctim cum iisdem optionibus et placitis, quae Christus, bonus Pastor, amplexus est.
  18. PDV, §58: [F
  19. See note 15 above.
  20. PDV, §57: Studium autem theologiae pastoralis illuminare debet applicationem operativam, studiose adhibitis nonnullis ministeriis pastoralibus, quae vocati ad sacerdotium praestare debent per necessarios gradus, congruenter cum aliis muneribus formationis: loquimur de «experimentis» pastoralibus, quae confluere possunt in verum ac certum «tirocinium pastorale» per certum tempus extendendum et methodice accuratae aestimationi submittendum.
Matthew Walz About Matthew Walz

Matthew Walz is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, as well as Director of the Philosophy & Letters and Pre-Theology Programs, at the University of Dallas. In addition, he serves as Director of Intellectual Formation at Holy Trinity Seminary. Previously he taught at Thomas Aquinas College in California. His research and writing focus primarily on medieval philosophy, ancient philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. He has been married since 1999 to his lovely wife Teresa, and they have been blessed with eight children.

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