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01.06.2024 02:01:54 138x read.
Ongoing Formation as Transformation (by Cyril de Souza, S.D.B.)

Ongoing Formation as Transformation (by Cyril de Souza, S.D.B.)

The ongoing formation of religious is often understood as a “consolidating” action by which the initial response of the individual to the vocational call, through different phases of formation, is further clarified, strengthened and made constantly mature. As the individual begins to respond to the religious call, he/she begins to be aware and to understand step by step and stage by stage, the deeper implications of that call and of the corresponding response. Thus, there is a gradual deepening and a continual growth of that initial response towards the fullness of the imitation of Christ and a slow and steady growth in becoming perfect just as the heavenly Father is perfect. All this comprises the consolidating dimension of ongoing religious formation. However, there is another aspect of ongoing formation, which should not be lost sight of, and that concerns “transformation,” Besides consolidating the response through a continuing ongoing formation, the individual in his/her growth in vocation realizes the need for a constant transformation in the process of the imitation of Christ and in becoming perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. What really is this transformation? What are the implications of transformation?

Discovering the etymology of the word transformation gives us a better understanding of what it implies. The word transformation is made up of two Latin words, trans and forma, where trans could mean “across, over, on the other side.” In combination with forma it would literally mean “a change of form” and, according to its use, it could refer to any type of change, as for instance, a change of character, or of clothing style, or even more importantly of consciousness. It is this kind of transformation that we will look into now; however, at the very outset, it should be pointed out that it is a complex process involving thoughts and feelings. Transformational learning has far-reaching consequences on personality, more than any other kind of learning. It is a learning experience that shapes the learner and produces a significant impact to the point of affecting the learner’s subsequent experiences. In a transformational learning process one’s “meaning perspective” changes; “meaning perspective” refers to one’s overall world view, which comprises specific knowledge, values and beliefs. Usually one’s meaning perspective is passively formed right through one’s life experiences in childhood, during the youthful years and in young adult hood. These elements serve as a filter in perceiving the present reality and in determining how to organize and interpret one’s current experiences. Through the process of ongoing formation the religious should acquire self-knowledge and, by rational discourse and critical reflection, explore the depth and meaning of the elements that make up one’s worldview in order to produce a more inclusive world view.

The success of the outcome is rated by the development of greater autonomy as a person, which in a way also defines the condition of adulthood. Transformational learning can be attained only to the extent that one uses the tools of critical reflection and rational discourse in order to arrive at a self-knowledge that is total, deep and long-lasting (psychological effects). In the same strain it should be added that this transformational learning reorganizes one’s perspective and will seriously affect the intimacy of relationship and vision that one has of God and other spiritual realities (spiritual effects). “The full development of religious values and Christian sanctity in a soul is inconceivable if a man does not start out with a healthy mind, well balanced in its activities.” This affirmation seems to imply that any deficiency in mental health would be an obstacle to full spiritual development. It further assumes that psychological growth and spiritual growth are interrelated. The greater the psychological maturity acquired, the greater the possibilities for spiritual development.

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