Formation and Terminology

By Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV

Can a person persevere in a certain lifestyle?  Learn the charism of the institute or vocation?  Demonstrate ability to live the life in a generous manner freely without it being overwhelmingly difficult?  Learn the basics of the lifestyle?  Show promise of being able to flourish spiritually, mentally, physically, psychologically, [and for most vocations, socially]?  The Church requires formation for lifelong vocations, especially for candidates to the Marian and Petrine dimensions of the Church because it is not intuitive and to make sure that candidates are able to have balanced lives.

Those who do not undergo basic formation in institutes of consecrated life or the seminary are often ignorant of the theology and praxis of consecrated life or clerical life.  Moreover, they do not always understand the terminology or “jargon” that have specific meanings within the context of consecrated and/or clerical life and theology.  This is also occurs when, for example, a diocesan priest who isn’t conversant with the full theology of consecrated life attempts to found religious communities or societies of apostolic life without knowing the profound theological differences.  Misinformation can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Let’s look at some common errors people make who haven’t had a solid formation.

1)  The idea that chastity, celibacy, continence, and virginity mean the same thing.

2)  The idea that a person can have a profession of vows and not be a diocesan hermit or member of a institute of consecrated life.

3)  The idea that diocesan priests must be destitute to live up to their “vow of poverty”.

4)  The idea that secular institutes are an inferior vocation for men and women because by their nature they should not have members wear habits.

5)  The idea that religious brothers are clergy-lite and are a waste because they didn’t become clergy.

Can you spot what’s wrong in each of the 5 ideas?  Discuss.

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