Intellectual Formation: Rationale
From the point of view of time, energy and intensity, the intellectual formation of priest is perhaps the most difficult in it search for truth and wisdom. The Church calls for an “extremely rigorous intellectual formation” (PDV 51). Not only must his intellectual life make him capable of speaking about God, but must also be integrated into his spiritual life so that he can communicate to people his experience of the mystery of God in Christ. In this process, his study of philosophy is indispensable for developing a habit of reflective awareness of the relationship between the truth and the human person.
Neither can he neglect the human sciences such as sociology and psychology which enable him to meet his contemporaries effectively. The genuineness of his theological formation will shine out in his ability to enlighten the minds and warm the hearts of his people with the leaven of sacred doctrine and faith. His mature study of Sacred Scripture and his fidelity to personal lectio divina (spiritual reading) leads him to cling to Christ and the communion of the Church. Intellectual formation aims to offer the seminarian a unified and complete vision of the truths of the faith so that the various fields of his study may contribute to the enhancement of the other.
The Seminary of Christ the King has a long tradition of fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and intellectual formation is not stunted by its guidance but rather grows apace so that pastoral action flows from an authentic theological vision inspired by the mind of Christ and his Church.
Especially relevant today is the careful study of cultures and religions which form a kind of “Court of the Gentiles” in almost every city of the world. The seminary strives to find ways of formation which strengthen the student’s ability to discern carefully the good and genuine elements of every culture and tradition and their relationship to the Gospel.
Our times increasingly demand from the formators the ability to assist the students to face the complexity of societal life with confidence, clear and deep reasoning and a pastoral and compassionate heart.
In the Seminary of Christ the King, the first priority is on prayer. The search for the truth must keep us in communion with the truth and vice versa. The second priority is on living community life in the context of our faith. Intellectual life cannot develop unless rooted in the local ecclesial community which in its turn is in union with the universal Church. The students undergo shorter workshops in study, research, writing papers and bibliographies and methodology. A well-stocked ecclesiastical and monastic library is also a vital help to intellectual growth. St. Thomas Aquinas has always been given pride of place in philosophical, and theological studies here at SCK. Contemporary students seldom have good habits of reading and reflection. Hence, fostering these habits is encouraged in the seminary. Above all interior discipline of the mind and heart is encouraged and fostered by an environment of silence and prayerful reflection.
If one could describe the goal of intellectual formation in the seminary briefly one could use the concluding words on Intellectual Formation in Pastores Dabo Vobis:
“The very situation of the Church today demands increasingly that teachers be truly able to face the complexity of the times and that they be in a position to face competently, with clarity and deep reasoning, the questions about meaning which are put by the people of today, questions which can only receive full and definitive reply in the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (PDV 56).
To arrive at such a goal the intellectual formation in the seminary needs to foster a multifaceted approach to the intellectual life. These approaches are themselves like secondary goals that support the primary goal of the intellectual life: the ability to proclaim, communicate and adhere to the mystery of Christ and his Church.
These “secondary goals” would be the following:
- To seek a knowledge of the divine mysteries that are credibly proclaimed and integrate spirituality with a personal experience of God in order to communicate Him (cf. PDV 51). “To give an account for the hope that is in us!” (cf. 1 Pt 3:15).
- To foster and develop as “cult” and veneration of the truth, through a reflective process that shows the relationship between the truth and the human spirit (PDV 52). To make contemporary, the certainty of the truth that is Jesus.
- To maintain a scrupulous respect for the nature of theology in such a way that the theology nourishes faith and consciously takes up the christological and ecclesial reflections that develop a living love for Christ and his Church. Theology should lead to prayer and encounter with Jesus Christ! (PDV 53).
- To help the candidate build a complete and unified vision of the truths revealed in Jesus Christ and the Church’s experience. To assist him to arrive at a synthesis of the different theological disciplines and their coordination. “Scripture must be the soul of theology!” (PDV 54).
- To pay special attention to current problems that raise difficulties such as the relationship of theologians to the Magisterium; high scientific standards of theology and pastoral aims; the relationship between pastoral action and theological vision; and evangelization of cultures and inculturation of the faith (PDV 55). Teachers must be able to face the complexity of the times and impart to the students the confidence and competence to do the same.
- The intellectual formation in the seminary is a serious and demanding work which “opposes firmly the tendency to play down seriousness of studies and commitment to them (PDV 56). “Intellectum valde amas!”