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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Theology and Priestly Formation

Some have argued that too much attention is payed to theology in priestly formation. They contend that most priests forsake the ministry for lack of human and spiritual rather than intellectual formation. There is something important to this position and efforts to provide better spiritual and human formation must be engaged in earnest. Yet, I am not fully in agreement with the idea that we need to ease up on theological exploration so that proper attention can be given these other areas. This is too compartmentalized in its approach.

All Christian formation, including priestly formation, needs to have the form of an incarnate discipleship - the learning of a whole manner of life that involves all the excellencies of human existence. A theology that does not purify and intensify one's humanity, contemplation and pastoral charity is a very poor theology indeed. The theological task must be lead souls into a baptism of wonder until their whole existence is on fire with the love of God. Any other kind of theology is simply a waste of time. Pure of heart, an existence aflame with Divine Love knows the sanctification of all its bodily and psychological urges, drives and instincts. Completely vulnerable in obedience to the Word made flesh, it is become poor in spirit, an icon of the Father's love for the World. A peacemaker, it yearns for the unity of the Church and stands against discord in the Body of Christ. Hungering and thirsting for justice, such an enflamed soul takes the side of the humble and powerless in society, always ready to offer a word of hope. Most of all, such a disciple rejoices in the face of persecution - for it finds in such rejection, a more perfect identification with Christ.

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