Mutuae Relationes 24: Introducing Formation

SenanquecloisterChapter V addresses the formative aspect of the relationship between bishops and religious. We begin with a brief unnumbered introduction:

The Roman Pontiff and the bishops carry out in the Church the supreme role of authentic Teachers and Sanctifiers of the entire flock (cf. Part I, ch. II). Religious superiors, in turn, are vested with special authority for the direction of their own institute and carry the heavy burden of the formation of the members (cf. PC 14; 18; Part I, ch. III).

Bishops as a whole share a universal authority, and superiors govern their own communities. Both should attend carefully to formation:

Consequently bishops and superiors, each according to (their) specific role, but in harmony and united effort, should give precedence to their responsibilities regarding formation.

What is formation exactly? It’s something of a buzzword in some church circles. I would interpret it as the Church does here:

24. Bishops, in accord also with religious superiors, should promote, especially among diocesan priests, zealous laity and local religious, a clear awareness and experience of the mystery and structure of the Church and of the vivifying indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by jointly organizing special seminars and encounters on spirituality. They should, moreover, insist without ceasing that both public and personal prayer be appreciated and intensified, even by means of appropriate initiatives, carefully prepared.

Formation is not just education and imparting information. MR 24 suggests some people might be more receptive to it than others. It is not just about information, but also involves “experience.” The focus of “joint seminars” among religious, priests, and laity includes spirituality and liturgy. This sets the tone for more of what is to come in Mutuae Relationes (online here) on “the formative aspect” (MR 24-35)

Thoughts or comments on today’s post?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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