The Seminary as Nazareth: Formation in a School of Prayer | Deacon James Keating, Ph.D. | Ignatius Insight | February 11, 2010
The Seminary as Nazareth: Formation in a School of Prayer | Deacon James Keating, Ph.D. | Ignatius Insight | February 11, 2010
Pastoral study and action direct one to an inner source, which the work of [priestly]
formation will take care to guard and make good use of: This is the
ever-deeper communion with the pastoral charity of Jesus, which...constitutes the principle
and driving force of priestly ministry. 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. 
How does the seminary guard this inner source of ever-deeper
communion with the charity of Jesus? How does formation lead a seminarian to be in communion with
the very sentiments and behavior of Christ? In this essay I will explore one
way that such a communion may be established and guarded. It is a way of prayer
and meditation that invites the seminarian to enter Nazareth and live there with
the Holy Family. This way of being and praying is expressed well by Pope Paul
Oh, how I would like to become a
child once again and start my studies over in this humble and sublime school of
Nazareth. How I would like with Mary, to receive once again the true knowledge
of life and the superior wisdom of divine truths. 
Here the Pope reveals his deepest heart, his desire to live
with the Holy Family. Such a desire can be satiated as time and space do not
deny its fulfillment. At its core such a desire expresses a man's longing to
live with God, to live where holiness defines all of reality. Incipiently many
seminarians come to the seminary looking to have the same desire fulfilled: I
want to live where Christ lives.
Vocation directors usually use John 1:38 to attract the
attention of young men who are weary of aspects of our current culture and want
to seek the "more." In this part of the Gospel of John we hear a question asked
by any sincere seminarian, "Master, where do you live?"(v. 38). Jesus says in return, "Come and see." In John 1:43ff there is another
version of this conversation that is more relevant to our present meditation on
Nazareth, however. In this version Nathaniel asks if "anything good can come
from Nazareth?" and Philip responds, "Come and see." What did Philip want
Nathaniel to see—the town of Nazareth? No. He wanted Philip to see the
kind of man that is formed in Nazareth, a formation that is taken up into the
love between Mary and Joseph and their reception of the love of God the Father.
Here the "come and see" invites the disciple to behold the kind of man formed in Nazareth, a man who can see very
deeply, who gazes with love on the full truth of a man. He sees Nathaniel, knows him and then in response to
Nathaniel's astonishment over this knowledge reveals even more: the source of
this knowledge, which is Jesus' communion with all things divine. "You will see
heaven open up." In other words, you will see what I see.
As the seminarian gets closer to the mystery of Christ's own
identity and his communion with Mary, Joseph and the love of the Father, he
gains a sure footing for entering priestly ministry. The kind of man Nazareth
forms is one who ministers to other's needs from out of his own communion with
the mystery of Divine and human love. The seminarian is called to let Christ
tutor him in this mystery of ministry: the mission of priesthood can only be
sustained throughout the life of a priest if he receives love and stays in communion with that love. Here is the core
curriculum of the seminary; here is its "content":
The first task of intellectual
formation [in the seminary] is to acquire a personal knowledge of the Lord
Jesus Christ, who is the fullness and completion of God's revelation and the
one Teacher. This saving knowledge is acquired not only once, but it is
continuously appropriated and deepened....Intellectual formation has a...missionary
purpose and finality. 
There may be a number of seminarians who respond to the call
to priesthood only to recognize that their "personal knowledge of the Lord
Jesus Christ" remains undeveloped. If such ignorance lingers while the
seminarian is still in seminary his future priesthood may become burdensome
because he does not know how to receive love and stay in love. His priesthood is
secured and continues toward holiness when it flows from communion with Christ
and all who He is. This reception of Christ's love as 'personal knowledge'
reaches its apex in mission, for communion founds mission. Christ, Himself, did
not remain in Nazareth but was sent forth from his family; even still He
continues to spiritually receive their love and affection. Nazareth has not
vanished; it is the love between Mary, Joseph and Christ in the presence of the
Trinity. Not only can good come from Nazareth it is the very home of goodness
A Spousal Love
The seminary, then, is foremost a transfiguring encounter
with Trinitarian love, a love made known in and through a "personal knowledge
of the Lord Jesus Christ." If the priesthood Christ wishes to share with the
seminarian is to be effectively received and personally internalized then he
must allow Christ to become intimate with him. To enter into communion with the Trinity is a gift
of grace, a grace each seminarian has been appropriating since his baptism.
This spiritual sonship, given to each man by the Father through Christ and in
the Spirit, founds the fullness of his vocation as one who lives to give
himself away in love.  As a man's priestly vocation
becomes clear and he enters seminary a new configuration of this grace of
baptism is waiting:
the grace of spousal love. This grace is activated and internalized when a
seminarian acknowledges that his vocation is a way of spousal self-donation.
All spousal love has its origins in God ("Therefore, behold,
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to
her" [Hos 2:14])  who wishes to be close to His Bride (humanity, Church)
through the ministry of Christ the Bridegroom who then, in turn, shares His own
mission with priests. The Incarnation, therefore, is the gracious overflow of
God's spousal love for creation; a love that culminates in the self-donation of
the Bridegroom on the cross (Matt. 9:15; Eph. 5:25). Christ himself was formed
by the spousal love of Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:51-52), a love reflecting God's
own for His creation. Mary received Jesus into her own love for Joseph and
God the Father;
Jesus in turn received their love and gave himself to them (Lk. 2:51), and
eventually His own spouse, the Church.
The seminarian is invited to enter the grace of
familial-nuptial love in the same way Christ knew such love on earth: through
the reality of Nazareth, through the reality of Mary and Joseph's love for God,
for one another, and for the Son, Jesus. In our current time when the spousal
relationship is undergoing profound cultural attacks, and when married couples
and priests alike struggle to be true to their vows we need to receive Nazareth
in grace and invite it to enter the seminary as refining fire. Seminarians are called to be
formed in a prophetic way as men espoused to the Church. That which is now
being rejected—marriage—Nazareth will in the end purify, elevate,
and rectify through the priesthood. By virtue of his prophetic character the priest
is summoned to participate in the communion of love  that is Mary, Joseph and Jesus. "[The priest] proclaims the word in
his capacity as "minister," as a sharer in the prophetic authority of
Christ and the Church."  In his chaste spousal love the seminarian gives
witness to the singular attention Christ gave to His own Bride, the Church.
Time and Grace
One rationale for the existence of a seminary is to form the
seminarian so he will cherish time. This cherishing is not for its own sake.
Time is cherished as sacred because of what the Spirit is doing to and for the
seminarians. He is advancing them in age, wisdom and grace (Lk. 2:52). This is
how it was in Nazareth. This focus on time and relationships is ordered toward
the completion of a masculine identity that was given to the seminarian at
birth. His manhood was then related to the mystery of salvation at baptism.
Under the loving discipline of his parents he further appropriates his identity
as a son and brother
and now, in
seminary, moves toward espousing the church and this vocation's inevitable paternal fulfillment.  The seminary, then,
is primarily a relational process of formation in a priestly identity that
can only be established upon a solid process of human and spiritual maturation.
In order for this identity to be maturely appropriated by a
priest he needs to receive and enter into the communion of love that is Mary,
Joseph and Jesus. The reception of such love defines the formation of one who
is to share in the original priesthood of Christ, a priesthood that had a
significant portion of its character established by way of this same
familial-nuptial love. The Holy House of Nazareth, then, is to be transported to each seminary. To have the
seminary become the house of Nazareth is to acknowledge that Christ carried
Nazareth within Him during his ministry. He was the"product" of the silence, the work, the
prayer, and the mystery of masculine-feminine love that He received. When the
disciples met Christ, they met Nazareth. Those thirty years of full silence
are carried in Christ's Heart, carried
there to be forever shared with His priests in their own amoris officium.  Nazareth is still germane to
the formation of priests because Nazareth has never ended; Christ remains in unceasing unity
with the Father, Mary and Joseph.
This domestic fellowship becomes the seminarian's
entryway to deeper
participation in Trinitarian love. It was the Incarnation itself that revealed the Trinity to man so
that humanity might be purified and elevated to know and participate in God's
love. As a result of his coming in the flesh we become capable of entering
divine love and dwelling there with Him and his saints forever. "The basic
principle of priestly spiritual formation is ...to live in intimate and unceasing
union with God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit" (Program
of Priestly Formation [PPF], 107). To be drawn to the Trinity in and through the holiness of
Joseph and Mary's marital love is the way of purification and renewal for
particularly for those who share in Christ's own chaste spousal love. By
seeking communion with the first "domestic church", which is Nazareth, the
seminarian remains in fellowship with Mary, Joseph and Jesus thus glimpsing the
origin of nuptial love itself: the Trinity. 
By remaining in such fellowship Christ gives to His sons
what was given to Him by Mary, Joseph and The Father. Christ assures the future
priest; "I will not leave you orphan, I will come to you" (Jn. 14:18). Some
translations express the word orphan as "desolate." In the intimacy of Nazareth
the seminarian will find the truth of his spiritual life: desolation is not
his inheritance. Seminary spiritual formation is ordered toward moving men out of
desolation and toward the consolation that Christ carries for them within His
own receptive Heart. Desolation ends when one receives the content of
Christ's own heart,
a heart defined by communion with the Father and bound in love (the Spirit) to
Mary and Joseph. To live in such communion gives rise to priestly mission and a
lifetime of self-donation for the welfare of the Church.
Nazareth in Practice
Succeeding the story of Nathaniel, as mentioned above, St.
John moves us to the beginning of the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7ff; Jn. 2:1-12)
where all things are made new (Rev. 21:5) because the Bridegroom has emerged
from His formation
(Jn. 2:1ff). This formation of Christ'swas nuptial-familial. It was a formation received
through a marriage sourced in heaven, announced by an angel and sustained by
mystical dreams (Matt. 1:20). From such communion Jesus emerged to reveal His
ultimate identity as the One whoconstantly beholds the loving gaze of His Father.
Nazareth, as formational reality, protects interiority by
promoting and esteeming the communion that is the Holy Family and
introducing the seminarian to participate in this communion. The seminarian
participates in Nazareth by living where the Holy Family lives, in truth and
love. He has to remain with the Holy Family in such humility so they can relate
to him, reach him and "see" him. The seminarian progressively learns that he
has to inhabit the same reality as the Holy Family, to dwell in a freely offered "Yes" to
the will of the Father. If he does so, the Holy Family will heal him, instruct
him and send him.
Christ said yes and embraced Nazareth (Lk 2:51), Mary said
yes to the approach of God (Lk. 1:38), and Joseph said yes to both God and Mary
(Matt. 1:20). Joseph had to suffer a new idea about marriage, one not of his choosing but of
God's. Hence Joseph had to trust and depend upon God and Mary in a radical way,
since the newness came to him through her. The seminarian must do the same
and stand before the Holy Family in all truth and humility. "Here are my wounds, my poverty; may
I meet you in the place where our mutual poverty and dependency lead us to
depend upon God?" 
The Gift of Nazareth
What should seminarians, who have received the grace of
Nazareth, concentrate upon during their four years of formation? In answering
this question recall that the Program of Priestly Formation saw spiritual formation as the
heart and core of seminary.  Hence, I would invite seminarians to follow
the example of Pope Paul VI and cry out in prayer for a new spiritual childhood. "Oh, how I would like to become a
child once again and start my studies over in...the school of Nazareth."
Formators can assist the seminarians to become spiritual children by
encouraging them to live in trust, surrender and complete honesty. Paradoxically spiritual childhood is
the way to affective and spiritual maturity. The more seminarians make their
interior lives available to God the Father, and the communion of love that is
the Holy Family, the more they will be on the way to full manhood in Christ (Eph. 4:13). Such growth in
maturity is made possible because Nazareth is safe; it is held in love by He
who is Truth, and by the One who measures growth in priestly formation not
simply by academic years but by an eager receptivity to divine love. 
The fruit of having communion with the "residents" of
Nazareth is not simply spiritual and affective maturity alone, it is also
Nazareth, as the core (PPF, 115) of seminary life, deepens a life of interiority
for mission. Christ
did not stay "hidden" for thirty years for himself; he stayed in a bond of love with
the Father, Mary and Joseph for the sake of his mission. The very nature of
seminary invites seminary formators to intentionally order the contents of
class, spiritual direction, human and pastoral formation toward interiority for
mission. Out of such formation a priest will be able to lead the laity, those
who transform culture, to the very source of their mission: the indwelling
Spirit of Christ. Without a love of interiority a priest may not have the
capacity to assist the laity in internalizing and securing their own mission.
The more he appropriates his own call to holiness as the gift he gives to
the laity the more
the evangelical mission which marks the laity will be secured by them, as
holiness diffuses itself. 
What Draws a Seminarian to Nazareth?
In prayer the seminarian draws close to the nuptial love of
Joseph and Mary, learning from them what loving the Church means. Entering this
love a seminarian comes "home"; he is taken up into the love between mother and
father. Emotional safety is crucial for growth in affective maturity. As we
direct a seminarian to enter the love between Joseph and Mary in his prayer we
are entrusting him to the foundational love of all Christian marriages. We are
beckoning him to surrender himself and learn from Joseph how to love the
"woman" (Jn. 2:4; 19:26-7). Since this tutorial is accomplished in the
imagination of the seminarian at prayer the fullness of his own life in relation to Mary and Joseph
is opened to him in the Spirit, the source and giver of life. The Spirit
protects the imagination from becoming fantasy and therefore disconnected from
doctrinal and spiritual truth. At the heart of nuptial love is life, fecundity. Formators
should be directing the seminarian to this heart as if the seminarian were a
thirsty man needing water.  What should the seminarian pay attention to
when he is in the heart of such prayer? He is to imagine the life at the core
of Mary and Joseph's love!
Jesus is formed for mission out of this maternal-paternal
love. He is ready for mission because He is formed in humility. This humility
flows throughout the love between Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We see it in Christ
doing the Father's will, the Fiat of Mary and the "Yes" of Joseph to care for Mary as his
spouse. Priestly formation is time immersed in the Holy Family's love. During
this time the seminarian experiences spiritual sonship in a new way. He shares
his deepest affections with the Holy Family and the grace he receives from this
love prepares him to become an emotionally and spiritually mature spouse and
father. It is impossible for man to receive fatherhood as a vocation unless he
has experienced being loved as a son. This love founds his capacity to make
himself one who endures sacrifice for the love of his children. In the priest
who bypasses spiritual childhood, spiritual and affective deformation occurs.
 Tragically, this kind of man takes power and remains isolated and
unrelated to the joy that is known in being loved. In this case one becomes
authoritarian rather than fatherly, or he becomes a "taker" filled with
delusions of entitlement.
The seminary is a place of personal vulnerability to the
healing love of the primordial Christian family. In this way all facets of
formation; academic,  human, pastoral and spiritual ought to invite the
seminarian to "stay" within the loving relations of the Holy Family. Each
person of the Holy Family will bring a particular facet of the mystery of his
vocation to the seminarian. In reality the persons and the relationships
between the persons in the Holy Family become crucial "content" in the process
Jesus, Joseph and Mary
We do not need to linger here on how the person of Christ
relates to the seminarian since this relationship is covered so thoroughly in
priestly documents and theology.  We can make one point here about Christ,
however. There is no guarantee of or right to ordination once a man enters the
seminary, but if he enters formation fully, there is a hope that he will meet Christ. Christ
will then communicate to him a sense of self that is healthy and spiritually
mature, since it was born in the interchange between the seminarian's own
receptivity to host the truth and Christ's own desire to be that truth for him.
Here the seminarian
must come to awareness that Christ is his gift and that all facets of formation
conspire to show him Christ.
In academic, pastoral and human formation seminary formators
want each seminarian to host the truth about self, doctrine, or charity, but
more so they want the seminarian to know that it is Christ himself who is the
Truth. All seminary formation ends in the sharing of Christ's own priestly
heart, a heart formed out of love for truth, His Father's will, and the love
between Mary and Joseph. Let me close then with a meditation on a reality that
is not as well trod as a seminarian's relationship with Christ: a seminarian's
relationship with Joseph and Mary.
How Can the Seminarian Approach Joseph?
In a March 2009 homily, Pope Benedict XVI said:
Joseph agreed to be part of the
great events God was beginning to bring about in the womb of his spouse. He
took Mary into his home. He welcomed the mystery that was in Mary and the
mystery that was Mary herself.... Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love
He then defined what this healing means later in the homily:
In contemplating Joseph, [we]
come to experience healing from emotional wounds, if only [we] embrace the plan
that God has begun to bring about in those close to [us], just as Joseph entered into the
work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in
... Joseph was caught up at every
moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph
reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery
and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated
from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it
was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and
left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. 
If the seminarian can learn to "dwell" in the presence of
Mystery and relate all that he is thinking, feeling and desiring to that loving
mystery of God he will be healed of that which drags at his soul, and fetters
his hope of holiness. Joseph stands close to the seminarian as one who knows
the intimate call to spousal chastity in service to the mystery of Christ's own
vocation. He intercedes for the future priest to trust in Mary, to let her
guide him to all that is good about nuptial self-donation. Joseph is ready to
ask Christ to gift the seminarian with the graces and virtues of Christ's own
Joseph will also counsel the seminarian on his participation in the renewal of
creation, his vocation as an eschatological sign. The seminarian should invite
Joseph to pray for him to welcome within his own body the coming of the "new
age", the age that orders all love through the lens of God's spousal love for
his people. Joseph wants to tutor the seminarian in this truth, "God wants to
renew everything from within the family."  As patriarch, Joseph passes on
to the seminarian a love of authority, an authority that flows from and is
sustained by, his love of Mary and God.  Joseph is for the seminarian an
advocate for true fatherhood, a paternity that flows from his own love of his
spouse. This paternal love is always fruitful as it shares in God's own love for
all those He has created.
Here is what Joseph teaches the seminarian to:
welcome the mystery that is Mary
These characteristics of Joseph, alone, are sufficient to
ponder as content for seminary formation. But, of course there is more.
love your bride without possessing
live in the presence of mystery
and be open to this mystery at every moment. Seek to be docile to the truths
inherent in the mystery of your own vocation
not separate faith from everyday
life. Place no obstacles in God's way, so God can act through your ministry.
What Is the Gift that Mary Brings?
Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary,
the human being who responded better than any other to God's call. Mary became
both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in
her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind.
Mary was called to educate the one eternal priest, who became docile and
subject to her motherly authority. 
And, Pope John Paul II adds,
It is [the priest's] task to
proclaim Christ her Son. And who can better communicate to you the truth about
him than his mother? It is your task to nourish men's hearts with Christ. And
who can make you more aware of what you are doing than she who nourished Him?
Mary communicates to the seminarian the truth about her Son.
The most absolute truth she speaks is: "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn. 2:5).
She knew Him so well that it was at her word that the public ministry began,
"They have no more wine" (Jn. 2:3). She did not ask for wine; she simply
informed Him of the truth: the human race is depleted and they need the joy and
the healing of the Spirit. The seminarian seeks out Mary to converse about his
own mission, his own appropriation of the truth of Jesus' identity and mission.
Here her mystery looms large in the academic study and teaching of theology.
She is the one who internalizes the Word, and then lets the intimacy the Word's
presence compel her to mission (Lk. 1:39).
The seminarian also approaches her to receive the mystery of
woman, to have her tutor him like she tutored Joseph in the ways of a startling
and surprising nuptial life: spousal self donation to the church as a sign of
Christ's own gift. As then Joseph Ratzinger noted, "Mary's motherhood becomes
theologically significant as the ultimate personal concretization of Church.
...She is the Church in person and as a person. She is the personal
concretization of the Church."  If this is so then the seminarian needs to
receive from her the satisfaction of his deepest desire to be "for woman." She
will instruct him to know, like Joseph, that God's Spirit is ready to console
and elevate the affections and intellect in a way that "indicates another kind of closeness in marriage. The spiritual closeness
arising from marital union and the interpersonal contact between man and woman
have their definitive origin in the Spirit, the Giver of Life (cf. John 6:63).
Joseph, in obedience to the Spirit, found in
the Spirit the source of love, the conjugal love that he experienced as a man."  Joseph grew in
his reception of his deepest identity: spouse of Mary, the New Eve, and the Church.
Friendship with him, in contemplative prayer, will result in similar growth in
the seminarian. Joseph consented to a life lived in virtuous continence but he
"had to do so in dependence upon Mary."  In contemplative prayer
the seminarian will learn from Joseph to depend upon "the woman" to teach
him how to embrace her (Mary, the Church) in loving service rather than physical
intercourse. This is analogous to a husband learning from his wife how best to love her
within the patterns of marriage defined by natural family planning. In loving
Mary in accord with God's will Joseph "found in the Spirit the source of love, the
conjugal love that he experienced as a man." Can this truth about Joseph become
the centerpiece of all priestly formation on chaste spousal love?
Here is what Mary teaches the seminarian:
Mary educates the seminarian in the
processes of internalizing the Word
Mary communicates to the seminarian
the truth of who her Son is
Mary gifts the seminarian with the
truth about woman, and his own spousal gift of self-donation to the Church.
The love of God, of Mary, and of Joseph is real. Their love
is affecting the seminarian even now. The saints are living. We all note these
statements as true discursively, but in the rush of pragmatism and productivity
that is the hallmark of Western culture we can forget that Mary, Joseph and
Jesus' love for one another is still pulsating dynamically between them.
Christ wants to gather his priests within this source of formation to prepare them for a
life of hosting the truth about man and God, the mystery of mankind approached
through the mystery of Christ. Such a host, such a victim priest needs to be
communing with those who have this mystery at the heart of their being: The
Holy Family. If the seminarian is courageous enough he can be drawn into their
love for another and know this mystery himself. Receiving this nuptial-
familial love he will be sent, like the Beloved Son, to change water into wine
and wine into the very life of Christ. "Oh, how I would like to become a child
once again and start my studies over in this humble and sublime school of
 Pope John Paul II, Pastores
Dabo Vobis, 57 (1992).
 Paul VI, Visit to the
Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth (January 5, 1964).
 United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops, Program of Priestly Formation (5th edition, 2006), n. 137
 Documents of
Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes: "... man, who is the only creature
on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through
a sincere gift of himself" (n. 24).
 "And in that day,
says the Lord, you will call me, 'my husband', and no longer will you call me,
'my Baal'.... And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in
righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth
you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord" (Hos. 2:16,
19-20). "Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your
youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant" (Ez. 16:60).
"For your Maker is your husband.... For a brief moment I forsook you, but
with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I
hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer" (Isa. 54:5, 7-8). "You shall be called My
delight is in her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and
your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, your Builder
shall marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your
God rejoice over you" (Isa. 62:4-5).
 "In the words of
the Council, the communion of persons is, in a certain sense, deduced from the
mystery of the Trinitarian 'We', and therefore "conjugal communion' also refers
to this mystery. Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Divine Likeness: Toward a
Trinitarian Anthropology of the Family,
(Mich: Eerdmans, 2006), p. 34
 Pope John Paul II, Pastores
Dabo Vobis, n. 26
 See, Pope John Paul
II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body (Boston: Pauline, 2006), 78:5.
 In the Institute
for Priestly Formation we have come
to see the priestly identity as encompassing four realities: good shepherd,
spiritual father, chaste spouse, spiritual physician. See John Paul II, Pastores
Dabo Vobis (1992) where these
identities are noted, especially n. 3 (shepherd and spouse), n. 60 (spiritual
physician), and for spiritual father we go to Scripture, particularly the
writings of St. Paul, "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved
sons I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, you do
not have many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the
Gospel" (1 Cor 4:14-15).
See also PDV where John
Paul II refers to the priest having spousal qualities: "The gift of self, which
is the source and synthesis of pastoral charity, is directed toward the Church.
This was true of Christ who 'loved the Church and gave himself up for her'
(Eph. 5:25), and the same must be true for the priest. With pastoral charity,
which distinguishes the exercise of the priestly ministry as an amoris
officium,....[W]ith this concrete
spirituality he becomes capable of loving the universal Church and that part of
it entrusted to him with the deep love of a husband for his wife." (Pastores
Dabo Vobis n. 23).
 See, Program of
Priestly Formation, n. 25
 Program of Priestly Formation, n. 15. See Also, Angelo Cardinal
Scolo, The Nuptial Mystery (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 335-336.
 The formation staff seeks to teach seminarians what to
do with their pain, their wounds, and their "poverty." Such poverty is to be
related to the love held for them in the Holy Family. Pain cannot be run from
or hidden it must be shared and entrusted to those who trust God, and have
entrusted themselves to Him.
 Program of Priestly Formation, n.115
 See Karen Dwyer and Edward Hogan, "Assessment of Spiritual
Formation for Diocesan Seminarians" Seminary Journal (Winter 2008, 37-41), for a method and discussion
about measuring objective spiritual growth.
 See, Father John Cihak, "St. John Vianney's Pastoral
Plan" (Ignatius Insight, June 2009), for an insightful essay on the
relationship between holiness and lay conversion and mission.
Also we note this from John Paul II: "An essential
characteristic of missionary spirituality is intimate communion with Christ.
....The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to
mission. ...The missionary must be a contemplative in action...the future of mission
depends ...on contemplation. The missionary is a witness to the experience of
God." (Redemptoris Missio, n 91).
And John Paul II again: "...it would be wrong to think that
ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill
their whole life. Especially in the face of the many trials to which today's
world subjects faith, they would be not only mediocre Christians but
"Christians at risk". They would run the insidious risk of seeing
their faith progressively undermined, and would perhaps end up succumbing to
the allure of "substitutes", accepting alternative religious
proposals and even indulging in far-fetched superstitions. It is therefore
essential that education in prayer should become in some way a key-point of all pastoral planning"
(Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 34).
 Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Divine Likeness p.35
 "Spiritual childhood...means that we acknowledge our nothingness;
that we expect everything from the good Lord, as a child expects everything
from its father; it means to worry about nothing...it means that we must not be
discouraged by our faults, for children fall frequently." St. Therese of
Lisieux as quoted in F. Jamart, The Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St.
Therese of Lisieux (NY: Alba House,
 The seminarian's theological imagination is not to be
defined by academics, a course of studies to be completed in four years. His
spiritual-theological imagination is ordered by his communion with Christ and
the saints. The seminary is to promote and protect this imagination as its staff and structures of
daily living (horarium) facilitate the knowledge necessary to receive love from the living God
and His saints. Academics only deepen a man's love of such communion with the
Trinity. Since a seminarian's identity is not exclusively "student" all studies
are to be sublated into his emerging identity as a priest. No seminary reduces
a seminarian's identity to "student" as a policy, this reduction happens as a result
of a disproportionate weight given to academics in the minds of some students
and faculty. Giving academics such weight is, as it were, a default mode of
existence for most American seminarians. To study the mysteries of Christ on
the way to possessing an intellectual competency in theology is a necessity of
the highest order, but the mysteries themselves open the seminarian to want
competency, they summon him to wisdom---the eventual triumph of love being
integrated with knowing the truth. See, James Keating, Resting on the Heart
of Christ: The Vocation and Spirituality of the Seminary Theologian (Omaha: IPF Publications, 2009).
 For example see especially chapters 1-4 in Pastores Dabo Vobis; Cardinal Avery Dulles, The Priestly Office (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1997); Jean Galot,
of the Priesthood (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005).
 Homily of Pope Benedict XVI; First Vespers of the
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Basilica of Marie Reine Des Apotres Yaounde (March
 Marie Dominique-Philippe, OP, The Mystery of Joseph (Bethesda: Zaccheus Press, 2009), 80.
 Ibid, 81.
 PDV, 82.
 Pope John Paul II, Holy Thursday Letter to Priests (1979), n. 11.
 Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger, Mary: The Church at
the Source (San Francisco: Ignatius 2005), 30.
 John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos (1989), no. 19.
 Marc Ouellet, Divine Likeness (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 118.
Related Ignatius Insight Articles and Excerpts:
Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Proclaiming a Year for Priests on the 150th Anniversary
of the "Dies Natalis" of the Curé of Ars
Surrendering to the Healing Power of Christ's Own Chastity | Dn. James Keating, Ph.D.
St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan | Fr. John Cihak
The Blessed Virgin Mary's Role in the Celibate Priest's
Spousal and Paternal Love | Fr. John Cihak
The Priest as Man, Husband, and Father | Fr. John Cihak
Holy Christians Guarantee Holy Priests | Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Priest as Pastor, Servant and Shepherd | Fr. James McCarthy
The Religion of Jesus | Blessed Columba
Marmion | From Christ, The Ideal
of the Priest
Why Preaching | Peter John Cameron, O.P.
Satan and the Saint | The Feast Day of St. John Vianney | Carl E. Olson
The Ingredient for Priestly Vocations |
Rev. Jacek Stefanski
Becoming a Man of God | An interview with Fr. Larry Richards
The Year for Priests and Its
Patron | Sandra Miesel
Rev. Mr. James Keating, Ph.D., is Director of Theological Formation at the Institute
of Priestly Formation at Creighton University, Omaha. Before joining the staff of the IPF Deacon Keating taught
moral and spiritual theology for 13 years in the School of Theology at the
Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio. He has given over 400 workshops,
retreats and days of reflection on the Catholic spiritual/moral life. In the
field of his professional research, the interpenetration of the spiritual and
moral life, Deacon Keating has authored or edited ten books and dozens of
essays for theological journals.
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