IIC 133: Models of Integrated Personal Formation -- Catholic Style, with Matthew Walz, Ph.D.


In this episode, philosopher Matthew Walz, Ph.D. the Director of Intellectual Formation at Holy Trinity Seminary, explains the integration of the four pillars of formation laid out in Pope St. John Paul II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis. We dive into why it is so important to integrate the four types of formation and whether there is a hierarchy or sequence among them. We then discuss Dr. Walz’s models of integrated formation first presented in his article, “Toward a Causal Account of Priestly Formation: A Reading of Pastores Dabo Vobis”, which can be found here: https://www.hprweb.com/2021/01/toward-a-causal-account-of-priestly-formation/. Dr. Walz explains how the four pillars of formation—human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation—parallel Aristotle’s four causes, which are the material, formal, efficient, and final causes. The types of formation also parallel the “four loves”—love of self, love of God, love of truth, and love of neighbor. Finally, these four kinds of formation parallel the dimensions of Christ—Christ in His human nature and as priest, prophet, and king. We wrap up this episode by discussing what Dr. Walz means by “dimensional trespassing” in the process of formation.


[00:00:01] On March 25th, 1992, Pope Saint John Paul II issued an apostolic exhortation titled Pastores Dabo Vobis. Pastores Dabo Vobis, “I shall give you shepherds”. That’s what God promised us. That’s what he told us in Jeremiah 3:15 when he said, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart.” That document, Pastores Dabo Vobis, is all about the personal formation of seminarians and priests. And within Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope Saint John Paul II laid out four areas, four dimensions of personal formation. Those four dimensions: first, human formation, second, spiritual formation, third, intellectual formation, and fourth, pastoral formation. Four domains. Sometimes they’re called four pillars of formation. But these are not meant to stand alone. These are not meant to be in some sort of isolation. These are not meant to be, you know, somehow disconnected from each other. In paragraph 71 of Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that “the aim of ongoing formation must be that of promoting a general and integral process of constant growth, deepening each of the aspects of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral, as well as ensuring their active and harmonious integration based on pastoral charity and in reference to it.” Here is the money quote in there: “insuring their active and harmonious integration.” The integration of human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation and pastoral formation. Those four areas of formation, all four of these dimensions of formation are supposed to be integrated in a harmonious way.

[00:02:11] And that makes sense. Now, I was talking with Pat Molyneux at the Human Formation Coalition, and he was showing me his diagram of personal formation. You can see this at humanformationcoalition.org/about. So he’s got these four dimensions of personal formation represented by four overlapping circles. And where all of these four meet, there’s a flame in the center representing integrated formation. And this is in contrast to a model of what Pat Molyneux calls isolated and unbalanced formation, with the four dimensions of formation siloed away from each other. Pat Molyneux in that diagram was repeating visually what Pope John Paul II wrote about in Pastores Dabo Vobis about ensuring the harmonious integration of all four dimensions of formation, human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. And Pat was discussing with me how his diagram of integrated representation of formation was so helpful to so many people who could recognize the need to integrate their formation. And he asked me what I thought of his model. And this got me really thinking. It got me researching. I said, “I have got to look into this. We have to be able to understand the integration of these four domains of formation much better.” And so, like I often do, I got into research mode. I started to dive into the literature. What is out there? Who has been addressing this need? Identified by the Pope, 1992, more than three decades ago, this need to integrate those four dimensions.

[00:04:00] And I found a doctoral dissertation from 2008, Monsignor Thomas P. Nydegger wrote The Integration of the Four Pillars of Priestly Formation According to the Fifth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation. So I was excited. Monsignor Nydegger, he’s no lightweight. In 2005, Monsignor Nydegger was named chaplain to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. He’s been the director of formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary of Theology at Seton Hall University. He’s been the associate vice president for student services at Seton Hall. He’s also been a parish priest, and this dissertation runs to nearly 550 pages. It’s got eight pages of references, more than 100 citations. This is a gold mine. I have found it. I am going to be able to find everything that it’s been written about the integration of these four dimensions of formation between 1992 and 2008, all in one place. But it didn’t work out that way because this is a quote from the conclusion of the dissertation. Monsignor Nydegger says, “How effectively and successfully Roman Catholic seminarians actually implemented this integration was the point in question of this dissertation. The question was, whether integration, other than being printed on the pages of the Program of Priestly Formation [5th edition] was on the radar screen of leaders and policymakers in seminaries on a national or local level.

[00:05:26] This is a very serious question. Not only did there appear to be a lack of evidence for making effective and concrete integration the rationale of the document, but there seemed to be a lack of evidence of even addressing the integration of the four pillars of fruits of priestly formation even in this author’s seven years of experience in seminary formation.” Because, remember, Monsignor Nydegger, he is a formator, right, in a seminary. He’s not seeing this being done. So he goes on. “However, this lack was only part of the problem. It was not just the fact that integration was the central point of the program of priestly formation, but it was the reality that no concrete and definitive image of what that integration should look like was given. The essential problem was what that successful integration looked like, particularly when all that existed was a statement that maintained there should be integration.” So let’s look at this. He’s saying, look, it’s talked about it, it’s said it’s necessary, Pastores Dabo Vobis laid it out in 1992, but nobody’s done it. Nobody has actually come up with a model of what integration looks like, and it’s lacking in the seminaries. He goes on to say, “But the most important question was what successful integration looked like in and of itself. What were the characteristics of successful integration? The USCCB did not identify these characteristics.” Again, that’s in their program for priestly formation.

[00:06:50] That’s the document where they’re implementing or attempting to implement, give guidance to seminaries about how to implement Pastores Dabo Vobis. While they stated that integration must be the hallmark of any theology program of priestly formation, they need their articulated this integration nor how it was to occur. In other words, there’s a big fat zero on this. In other words, there’s no model of how we integrate these things. And so, from 1992 to 2008, we got 16 years where this has not, this work has not been done, according to who I would say is the expert in researching this, wrote the whole dissertation on it. No models. And so my reaction was, no, no, no, I am not having this, right. Something has to have happened. Okay. 2008. That was 16 years ago. All right. So we’ve had another 16 years go by. There has got to be something out there. I am not accepting this state of affairs. This is where I can get kind of like young and assume that by the sheer force of my will, I can change reality. You know, just if I want something badly enough, right, I am going to go find something. So I searched and I searched. And then I found. You know, like it goes. Seek and ye shall find. And today, I am not only going to share with you what I found about the integration of these four dimensions, the critical need for integration of these four dimensions of personal formation.

[00:08:28] But I’m also going to share with you who I found. I am Dr. Peter Malinoski, also known as Dr. Peter. I am your host and guide in this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast. I am so glad to be with you. I’m a clinical psychologist, trauma therapist, podcaster, writer, the co-founder and president of Souls and Hearts. But most of all, I am a beloved little son of God, a passionate Catholic who wants to help you taste and see the height and depth and breadth and warmth and the light of the love of God, especially God your father, that you come to know that you also are a beloved little son or daughter of God the Father. I also want you to come into a deep relationship with Mary, your mother, God the Father, Mary your mother, your spiritual parents, your primary parents. I am here to help you embrace your identity as a beloved little child of theirs. That’s what this podcast is all about. That’s what this episode is all about. It’s all about being formed. To bring that about, to live out our mission, I bring you new ways of understanding yourself, fresh conceptualizations informed by the best of human formation resources and psychology, always grounded in the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church.

[00:09:57] And why? To help you flourish in love, that’s why. This is Interior Integration for Catholics, episode number 133. It releases on March 4th, 2024 and it is so good to be here. It is so good to be together. Thank you for your time, for your attention. This podcast would not exist if it were not for you and my other listeners, so you make it all happen. Now. Let’s pick up the story. When I was searching around trying to find someone who had come up with an integrated model of the four dimensions of formation, I came across this January 2021 Homiletic and Pastoral Review article titled Toward a Causal Account of Priestly Formation: A Reading of Pastores Dabo Vobis. All right, this is it! A causal account of formation. Oh, most excellent. And so I called up the author, philosopher Matthew Walz. And I spoke to him very nicely, like I can do. Right. And what do you know? What do you know? He agreed to be with us on this podcast episode. And he’s here. He’s right here with us. Right. It is so good to have you on Interior Integration for Catholics, Dr. Walz. It is a blessing to have found you in your work. It is a blessing to have you as our lead-off hitter, as we open up a many-episode series on the integration of personal formation on this podcast.

Dr. Walz: [00:11:31] Well, thank you, Peter, for that wonderful introduction. Maybe a little too generous, but I am I’m very happy to be here, in part because now I know that at least one person has read my article, which is, which for us, for philosophy professors — like, that’s an accomplishment. Someone actually read my work. So I’m very happy to be here with you today.

Dr. Peter: [00:11:56] Well, it is so good to have you with us. And we had an opportunity to talk last week at some length about this, and I just so much enjoyed getting to know you. And now I can rank modesty among your list of attributes that I so admire. And that’s just, it’s just wonderful. Just a little bit of a bio on Dr. Matthew Waltz: In 2008, he joined the faculty at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Dallas. 2012, he became the Director of Intellectual Formation at Holy Trinity Seminary. That’s the college seminary connected to the University of Dallas. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Christendom College in 1995, with a double major in philosophy and theology. Go Christendom College — my daughter Marie is heading out that way this fall. He went on to the Catholic University of America, earned his doctorate in philosophy, did his dissertation on St. Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of free will. He’s been teaching at the college level since 1998 for more than a quarter century now. He served as the department chair in philosophy for four years, and now is the associate dean at the Constantine College of Liberal Arts at the University of Dallas.

Dr. Peter: [00:13:05] His areas of specialization medieval philosophy, ancient philosophy. Favorite philosophical authors include Saint Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Bonaventure, and Pope John Paul II. He’s been married to his beautiful bride, Teresa, since 1999. They have two sons and six daughters. And he also provided his favorite quote from Saint Anselm, “I do not seek to understand, so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also: that unless I will have believed, I will not understand.” All right. So. I don’t know. I’m just so excited to, to just, to just sort of have this conversation. But I think we may need to just kind of set the table a little bit here because for some of our listeners, you know, they’ve heard me go on and on about human formation, you know, but they may be less familiar with spiritual formation, intellectual formation, pastoral formation. So if we can just get a kind of a brief, just description of these four areas, just kind of a working definition of like, how do we how do we begin to understand these things? Dr. Walz.

Dr. Walz: [00:14:22] Yeah. That’s a, that’s a very good place to start. I think, on the one hand I would say that the words we use to describe the four dimensions are fairly straightforward. But what they point to is not so straightforward, perhaps. Namely, the complexity of being human. Human beings are multidimensional. We live on different levels, so to speak. We have a nature, and human formation acknowledges that we have a nature. We are a being that is natural and physical. And, you know, to put it in more sort of a traditional terminology, we are rational animals and perhaps with an emphasis when it comes to human formation, of acknowledging the fact that we are animals and that we have to deal with what it means to be living with a history and a certain time and place and the way that we’ve been formed, you might say, from the bottom up and not just from the top down.

Dr. Peter: [00:15:24] And we have a body. We’re physical beings, right? Embodied beings, which, you know, just differentiates us from the angels. Yeah.

Dr. Walz: [00:15:32] And living, living sentient bodies that retain a memory and the marks of the past. And in some ways, human formation really hones in on our nature as human, as rational animals. And I would say with a, with a bow, so to speak, to the embodiment side of that. How do we deal with our embodiment? Spiritual formation, as you might imagine, really deals with, you might say, the the other pole of our existence, the pole of our ability to relate directly to God, a pole that in some ways is incipient in human nature, but of course, has been opened up by the coming of the Christ and the relationship to God the Father that he has opened up for us. So really, spiritual formation deals with us precisely in that relationship to Jesus Christ and His Father and the Holy Spirit. Intellectual formation is really honing in on the fact that all of that, that the whole sort of range of our existence from being capable of God — capax Dei, as Saint Augustine would say — all the way down to being a body that if you threw me out a window, I would fall like a rock. And so this whole range that the human being sort of exists on. Intellectual formation allows us in, in terms especially of our self-awareness, to sort of step back, as it were, from ourselves and to grasp that whole both the God to whom we can relate all the way down to any of the sciences we might use to explore our bodiliness, as well as everything in between, of course — the moral, the intellectual, the emotional and all of that. So intellectual formation acknowledges the fact that one dimension of our existence is in the intellect’s ability to make us both self aware and in some ways aware of the entirety of existence. The intellect is in some way open to all being. And so it sort of acknowledges the possibility that one thing we have to think about in formation is how do we actually exercise that self awareness, and how do we exercise our ability to know all things.

Dr. Peter: [00:17:56] So that’s sort of like the rational part of the rational animal, right? Not just animal.

Dr. Walz: [00:18:00] Yeah. We’re not just animal. And we also have a capacity — and this relates to the spiritual somewhat — to contemplate. And that also opens up, and that’s already starting to get into seeing ways in which these will be interconnected with one another. And then lastly and perhaps most obviously pastoral formation, I am called. All of us — but of course, we’re talking about this at least Pastores Dabo Vobis, primarily in the context of priestly formation, acknowledging the fact that on the one hand, we are essentially social. We were born into a social network, and we exist in a social network. We both receive and give within that network. And in particular, a priest, for instance, is called, of course, to pastor within that network, to be able to feed the sheep and tend the flock. So pastoral formation, in some ways, the whole thing is oriented towards the carrying out of that mission of pastoring that the priest is called to. But, as we’ll probably talk about throughout this conversation, this is a model, of course, that can apply across the board, I think, to all human persons, all of whom are called to give in some ways of themselves in a pastoral mode.

Dr. Peter: [00:19:17] Right, right. And these apply to everyone. So, you know, 1992, you know, John Paul II is really looking at the formation of seminarians and priests. We here at Souls and Hearts are really looking to broaden this out. How can we mine the church’s documents, the wisdom of the church. And there have been some statements that the church has put out, you know, particularly about the formation of the laity as well. Christifideles Laici, which came out a little earlier, I think it was in 1988. But then also Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord was a document that came out, I believe, in 2006 that was specifically focused on lay ministers. So, you know, there have been some documents, but I mean, the centerpiece of it all really is Pastores Dabo Vobis. So this is where it was was all started. But when I was little, Dr. Walz, when I was little, I was known for always asking this question, “Why? Why?” And that wasn’t always an honest, it wasn’t always that as a little four year old, I was seeking truth. Sometimes I was trying to wear my parents down, you know, and get them to do what I wanted them to do or whatever. But there was a spirit of inquiry. So I want to ask you this question. Why? Why is it important to integrate these four dimensions of formation rather than to just foster their development separately? Why not just have the specialists in each of these four areas just help people along, grow these things up in a siloed way? Kind of like four pillars, right? Kind of separate. Why is it important? I mean, apart from just saying, well, because Pope Saint John Paul II said it was, right. The argument of authority. Like what? Help us. Help us nourish our understanding of this, but with the why. Yeah.

Dr. Walz: [00:21:03] I feel like I could answer that question sort of from different perspectives or different levels. I guess I would say maybe just to lay the groundwork for this, for an answer to that question would be, the conviction that the human being is one being. A conviction that is not altogether — despite the fact that we all act like we’re one — a conviction that, at least philosophically, and as I think we can see in the culture, in the way that some of those philosophies have seeped into the culture, is not altogether a conviction everyone holds in terms of especially falling into more dualistic ways of thinking about themselves, in terms of my body and my real self and things like that. So the heart of integration is the fact, you might say, the metaphysical fact that we are one being and body and soul, that the same being that is capable of falling like a rock is also able to be open to God and to receive God fully, and the same one that has an intellectual life that can grasp the whole, but one that is deeply dependent on the senses as well, and one that has an orientation to the life, the social life, but also can be deeply solitary and enter into a mode of solitude. So, do we actually believe that we are one? I think that’s a serious philosophical question. And I guess what the upshot of that, I think what I’ve seen in, in the course of working in formation is that, that fact means that… I guess I’d put it this way. Integration in one sense, is unavoidable. It’s going to happen either well or poorly. And it’s it’s the same thing in a family setting, right? Your child is going to take in whatever it’s taking in, whatever dimension, it’s going to be brought into that unity.

Dr. Walz: [00:23:10] And they’re either going to have a sense of the fact that it fits together, or a sense that it’s actually not very harmonious. So in one respect, I would say integration is happening in a seminary formation program, whether you like it or not, it’s at least happening in the individual. And it might be happening poorly. And often it is poorly because for it to happen best, as is often the case that that natural process which is going to lead to some kind of integration, ought to be undertaken by human reason and sort of deliberately brought to an integrated potentiality that is fulfilled, you know. So you have a mix here between the the metaphysical fact that all of this is formation that’s coming into an individual, whether you like it or not. And we must sort of artistically and prudently undertake that and figure out ways in which we’re going to make that integration more harmonious, glue it together better, so to speak, etc. And I think for Karol Wojtyla or Pope John Paul II, in writing Pastores Dabo Vobis — you know, I don’t want to speculate too much because I don’t, I didn’t know the man and I didn’t know his reasons. But I wonder whether he’s aware, especially as a philosopher, of living in an extremely disintegrated age when it comes to our self understanding, and in particular, losing the natural foundation. And that’s why I think the introduction of human formation as a distinct but interconnected dimension… to me, that strikes me as having set the table for integration. [If] you don’t acknowledge the need to address nature in its own right, you lose the, as he will call it, the basis or foundation of it, both integration and formation.

Dr. Peter: [00:25:15] Yeah. If theology leaves metaphysics behind, it’s going to have a problem.

Dr. Walz: [00:25:19] Yeah. And I would even say go further. If it leaves behind natural philosophy, right, if metaphysics isn’t, in fact, metaphysics, if it isn’t something that is presuming the natural unity, and yet also the natural complexity of the human being, then things are going to go awry. And I imagine — and again, this is my speculation — but I imagine if he’s looking back in 1992, after the bishops got together and thought about this, I have a feeling he knows there’s a lot of messes that are going to have to be cleaned up, and what’s at the heart of it? We haven’t addressed the fact that we’re dealing with rational animals and in particular animals and in particular bodies, which of course plays into his whole theology of the body. This return to the natural foundation upon which grace has to build. It’s got nothing else to work with except nature. And so I think once you introduce human formation, in some ways, the other ones kind of naturally build around it, because we can see that they are all ways of understanding that basic rational animal that each of us is, both in terms of being intellectual, capable of God, and essentially social.

Dr. Peter: [00:26:38] And the USCCB, in the Program for Priestly Formation, sixth edition in paragraph 116 said, “Through human formation, the foundation is laid upon which the other dimensions can be received and live.” So there the bishops are full in agreement with what you’re saying. Like, we have to really appreciate our humanity.

Dr. Walz: [00:26:58] Because I think the notion of foundation or basis is what the Latin is in Pastores Dabo Vobis. That’s an interesting way to talk about human formation. On the one hand, I like it because it’s it’s kind of an artistic way to talk about it. It’s thinking about building a house in some ways, building a dwelling place for for your being and the right way to structure it. But it does in a certain way look at the process of formation as something like an artistic activity, where you’re crafting a being that has a certain kind of stuff to work with, right? The stuff you have to work with is rational animality, right?

Dr. Peter: [00:27:38] Right. I was imagining, as you were kind of speaking, of like the preparation of a meal. You have all the ingredients and you could put them together in a haphazard way. You know, if it’s not thoughtful or whatever, you know, the ingredients of that meal could be mixed in ways that, you know, are integrated in a sense, right? In the sense that they’re interconnected, but not in a harmonious way. Right. If the cayenne pepper doesn’t go into the chili, but it winds up on the ice cream, you know, that’s not going to be harmonious, right? You know, there’s just going to be, in a sense, a deformation, which is what, as a clinical psychologist, I’m dealing with all the time. I’m dealing with deformation or malformation, things that came together in ways that really did not foster the person’s flourishing or their capacity to enter into intimacy with God.

Dr. Walz: [00:28:31] Yeah. And I wonder, yeah, thinking about John Paul II and the degree to which he’s looking at what’s going on in seminaries at that point and wondering, you know, number one, like, why was there such an exodus from the priesthood? Number two, why am I starting to see cases of abuse and things coming through Rome? So he has to see that there’s something missing here. And again, in some ways, it plays into the strength of his entire intellectual life, is the recovery of the natural through bodiliness, and our having to recognize that in a funny way, that is the underlying principle of unity in the process of becoming human in a mature way.

Dr. Peter: [00:29:16] I was just reviewing some of the literature on women who have been convicted of spontaneous unpremeditated violent crimes. And if you look at that literature, you will see estimates ranging from 40 to 60%, some of them even higher, that it’s done in their premenstrual period. In other words, there is an unusual spike in unpremeditated acting out. So if you take that as a sort of proxy, if you will — I may be overreaching here — but for, you know, severe sin or grave sin, there’s something going on bodily here that’s impacting that. It’s really an interesting example of how bodily factors can really impact, you know, our existence and the way that we think and the way that we behave. Yeah. And this is something that can be left out of, you know, sort of disconnected pie in the sky theorizing that can treat the human condition and the human person in a way that’s entirely too abstract.

Dr. Walz: [00:30:22] Yeah. And if you think in particular if the problems you’re seeing coming in have to do with the sexual realm — and of course, at that time there’s, you know, calls for the end of priestly celibacy and all sorts of things like that — in some ways it might say, yeah, the focus here is we’ve forgotten that natural basis upon which any sort of healthy intellectual life, spiritual life or pastoral life has to be built. You just can’t solve a problem of vice when it comes to your body simply by applying spiritual solutions.

Dr. Peter: [00:30:55] Well, and I think people are coming to understand in the 90s as well, that you could frame the sort of sex abuse crisis, the priest sexual abuse crisis, as a failure of chastity or a failure in, you know, the virtue of purity or continence or you could frame it as vice, you know, like succumbing to lust. But I think with that particular situation, people were saying, no, this isn’t just a question of spiritual ideas or spiritual realities. There’s something very fundamental that’s going on here that reaches beyond a poor moral decision made. And why is it that there would be a sexual attraction to a child in the first place? What’s going on with that? You know, is there something disordered coming up with that?

Dr. Walz: [00:31:53] Yeah. And I know I put a lot of focus on in these comments so far on human formation, primarily. Not to say it’s the most important, and we can talk about hierarchies and things like that. But it is really crucial to see that it’s the basis and foundation. And I think for Pope John Paul II — why is that? I think he’s deeply convinced, and he thinks it’s deeply true that grace presupposes and completes nature, right. Grace has nothing, it has no vehicle for its presence in the world except through nature. And so to really understand the working out of any of the, sort of, distinctively priestly characteristics that formation is trying to elicit from a young man, it has to be building upon the basis of nature, a human nature that is psychologically healthy and striving for virtue morally.

Dr. Peter: [00:32:55] Well, you brought up this question of hierarchy. That, this leads me to wonder, is there a hierarchy among the dimensions of formation? Is it better to say there’s an order of precedence among these different, you know, dimensions of formation? And if so, you know, what is it and how should that be organizing our thought as we begin to build a model?

Dr. Walz: [00:33:20] Yeah. It’s a good question. And I partly I wonder whether you can answer that question without already having a model. In other words, that those questions really go hand in hand.

Dr. Peter: [00:33:30] Well, I want you to tell us about your model.

Dr. Walz: [00:33:33] If I could problematize that first before.

Dr. Peter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take it, take it.

Dr. Walz: Because it does seem to me that if you ask the question of hierarchy or precedence, I feel like you could answer that in different ways according to, sort of, what are you measuring up against? Right? Precedence or hierarchy always presumes some sort of end or standard that this or that is closer to or most resembles, and therefore it’s higher in the pecking order. So there is a way, for instance, in which you could immediately say the pastoral dimension is the most important, because clearly that’s what it’s all for. But you could also say from a human point of view that human formation is really crucial, because if that goes wrong, everything else goes wrong. Intellectual formation is the most important because it takes the most time and takes the most focus. Then of course, the one that is most obviously the most important, at least, sort of absolutely speaking, is my relationship with God, that’s at the source of it all.

Dr. Peter: [00:34:33] All right. It’s sort of like asking, are your lungs more important or is your heart more important, or is your brain more important?

Dr. Walz: [00:34:40] On one hand, I think those speculative questions are helpful for sort of exercising the mind to see the interconnectedness. But practically speaking, they almost often become very unhelpful questions asked just on their own. If they’re asked because you need to sort of figure out prudently how to deal with and how to distribute resources or something, they can make a lot of sense. But on its own, it seems to me, as you said, it’s like asking, you know, is the lung more important than the heart? But if you can’t live with either, in some ways it kind of doesn’t matter. And asking the question in a purely speculative way might have the the bad effect of causing a kind of horse trading attitude towards the dimensions of formation, like they’re in competition with each other, and a certain envy might arise within the ranks of the formators.

Dr. Peter: [00:35:40] That would never happen, though, among faculty, like in a seminary, that would never happen among, you know, people that are engaged in this because, you know, we’re all on the same team, right, Dr. Walz? And again, I’m not asking for any inside information about what goes on, you know, in your seminary. But yeah, I mean, I that’s very human, right. For us to have turf wars or for us to have a preferred way of looking at these things.

Dr. Walz: [00:36:04] Yeah, we have a default intellectual envy that if we think of one thing as higher than the other, it’s very hard for us not to demote that which is lower and think less of it. And that’s not what’s going on in in formation. I would say that that way of thinking, if you go with sort of pure hierarchical thinking, in some ways it fails to see formation precisely as a process, because as a process, you realize that any process is going to have various inputs, all of which are going to play an essential role, and it’s ongoing. So at any given moment, one area of formation for a young man might come up as the most important at that moment. Like, this is where the defect lies, or this is the area that has received the least attention so far. So as a process, it would be very hard to make any claim that could sort of universally say “the most important dimension is x, y, or z”.

Dr. Peter: [00:37:09] Well, and Pope John Paul II doesn’t say anything like that, anything remotely like that in Pastores Dabo Vobis.

Dr. Walz: [00:37:15] Yeah. So at least what was on my mind in thinking about Pastores Dabo Vobis and whether there is a model whereby we could understand the interrelationship was — a couple of things. Number one, there’s four. Four is an important number. Number two, John Paul II was a philosopher. And number three, the way that he ordered them, as you articulated in the introduction, human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral. That’s what came to my mind in thinking through integration was — the four causes. If we have before us a process of formation, how would I analyze it into its distinct aspects or dimensions? Now remember, it’s an act of formation. Formatio. What are we doing? We’re trying, in some ways, as I said earlier, to shape a human being, in this case, a male human being, in a way that disposes him to receive the priesthood of Jesus Christ well. That process immediately raises — to me at least — the very wording of formation makes you think like we are dealing with an artistic process here. Something like you can think of in terms of like, sculpting a statue.

Dr. Peter: [00:38:43] Right, the clay. Right. We’ve got clay and we’ve got formators.

Dr. Walz: [00:38:47] And we have formators. So what was sort of striking me was really thinking about if you go that route, then the four causes seems like really applicable because in the four causes…

Dr. Peter: [00:38:59] Well, let’s back up a bit. What are the four causes?

Dr. Walz: [00:39:01] Yeah, so the four causes are a way of thinking about how to explain how a thing comes to be and how it continues to exist.

Dr. Peter: [00:39:10] Okay. This is Aristotle, right?

Dr. Walz: [00:39:11] This is Aristotle. Through looking at primarily human causality, the way that humans bring about things in the world, especially, as I said earlier, works of art. If I’m trying to affect the world in some way, I have some stuff to work with that’s in front of me — the matter. I want to shape that stuff in a certain way. It’s going to have a certain form, or formal cause. I am the one doing it as the efficient cause or the agent cause, and I’m doing it for some reason, some end, an end that could be both intrinsic to the thing itself — like if I’m making a bed, I want it to be in itself comfortable — but I might also have the end of like, I need to do this to make money because that’s my job, how I earn cash. So in some ways it’s a very objective way of looking at any process of bringing something about to its completion. So that’s the four causes in a nutshell. And there’s all sorts of evidence that we don’t need to get into, that John Paul II, he’s deeply philosophical, he’s deeply well read in the Aristotelian tradition, including Thomas Aquinas. So the four causes for a thinker like him is almost second nature. Like, this is how you answer questions — “What’s it made of?” “How is it structured?” “What is unifying and bringing about that structure in that stuff?” “And to what end?” “For the sake of what?” If you’re in that tradition, that becomes kind of second hand, like you don’t realize you’re actually thinking according to the four causes all the time. And it’s funny, when you teach students about it, it’s really illuminating for them, right. This actually gives you a holistic answer to the question of what this is and how it came to be the thing it is.

Dr. Peter: [00:41:09] Well, and it gives us a direction in terms of its order too, like what is it ordered toward, especially with that fourth cause, but supported by the previous three.

Dr. Walz: [00:41:17] Yeah. And and I don’t want to geek out too much on this, but it also is about how a human intellect trying to explain bodily things that exist in time can explain them well. Because with the material cause you’re really dealing with just what is presently given, and then you’re figuring out what kind of shape or form does it have, or do I want to give it. So the matter and the form are sort of like in the present moment — what do I have here? Efficient cause is, in a certain way, to look back in time to think about what brings it about. And the final cause is future oriented. Where is it going? So, in a certain way, if we are looking at this as a process, I have to look at it as a thing that has a present reality, has a past, present and future that sort of describes the fullness of its existence. By the way, this is maybe an interesting connection, but in Fides et Ratio in the opening prologue to that work, he says, there’s five questions that demarcate every human life. “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Why is there evil present in the world? And what awaits us in the afterlife?” I would argue that you got four causes again, plus the afterlife. But you have, you know, who am I presently? Where did I come from? Efficient cause. Where am I going? And then why is there evil? Why is evil sort of undermining the form of things? That’s maybe getting a little too complicated, but it shows you that John Paul II is very often steeped in this.

Dr. Peter: [00:43:05] Well, and you bring this out in the article the Homiletic and Pastoral Review article, that the way, the order in which he presented these four dimensions in Pastores Dabo Vobis has meaning, right. It follows what you’re discussing here. So whether this was explicitly intended by Pope John Paul II or whether it naturally just flowed from, you know, how he understood human existence in the world and spiritual reality. It may not even matter that much because these threads make sense, is what I’m hearing you say.

Dr. Walz: [00:43:44] Yeah. And I guess I would say it’s maybe very crucial that it’s not explicit. Because there are limits to thinking about the four causes, insofar as the four causes are rooted in a way of objectifying a reality that’s out there. And thinking about what kind of stuff does it have, what kind of shape does it have, what’s making it and and to what end. Whereas formation in one sense it has an objective reality. In another sense it’s an action that’s interior and therefore doesn’t have that kind of purely external-ness to it. And so that might actually help us to think about other models that can kind of map on to the four causes. When you are sort of very flexible with the four causes and thinking about them, not so much as simply describing objective external realities in their various dimensions, temporally and otherwise, but as sort of the way the human mind can think even about its interiority in terms of its structure. And that I think you would not want formation to be a process that could look like it’s it’s totally objectifiable in that way.

Dr. Peter: [00:45:10] Right, right. Because it could lead to algorithmic approaches to trying to form.

Dr. Walz: [00:45:16] Yeah. And so I think he’s wise and prudent not to call attention to one model, in fact, maybe not even to offer a single model. But in certain ways, he puts the four fold-ness in front of us, knowing that, as I said earlier, they’re going to integrate one way or another. We have — and maybe this is just like how a pope ought to write. Like, I put this in your hands for you to prudently undertake. Your rational ability to integrate this in a way that speaks best in your situation, not with any sort of, you know, deep relativism about that. Like, the fourfold-ness is real, right? These are real dimensions of processes. They have matter. They have form. They have efficiency. They have finality. But if you were to think about that in human terms, matter might not, like… what does it mean to think about your human nature as matter? And what does it mean to think about your intellect, as I would argue, as an efficient cause? So it sort of invites a kind of attempt to illuminate the process with this fourfold-ness without constricting the way you’re thinking about it, only according to a single model, because models always have that limitation. The model is not the thing.

Dr. Peter: [00:46:45] The model is not the thing, but yet it can illuminate with those caveats, which I think, you know, I entirely appreciate. You are connecting in a way, human formation with the material cause. You’re connecting spiritual formation with the formal cause. You’re connecting intellectual formation with the efficient cause, and you’re connecting pastoral formation with the final cause. And I mean, can you give us just — again without undoing what you just said, because I can sense the the hesitancy, right, to take it too far — but can we shed some light just on those connections between those four causes and the four dimensions of formation?

Dr. Walz: [00:47:28] Yeah. And I think — and it may in some ways, we’ve already talked a little bit about human formation. In some ways it’s easiest to see that… Let’s just put it this way. When a man enters seminary, you got something to work with. What do you have to work with? His human nature right in front of you, as he sort of individually embodies it.

Dr. Peter: [00:47:49] And that would include his emotions. That would include his body, that would include his thoughts, his past, his history, his memory, all of his faculties.

Dr. Walz: [00:47:58] You got stuff to work with. And that needs to be healthy and on a good moral trajectory. And if you’re going to sort of add anything that’s sort of at the level of grace, that nature has to be good stuff to work with, ultimately. So in some ways — that’s maybe the most obvious connection — that human formation seems most like the matter or the material that an artist has to work with. I would say the second most obvious is probably pastoral formation. What’s this for? You’re trying to get a man to exercise ministerial priesthood, especially in the diocesan level. It’s all to make him a pastor, right? Pastoring in some ways, the pastoring or the cura animarum, “the care of souls” is what the process is for. So those two seem fairly straightforward to me in terms of this fourfold-ness. I would say the next one that’s maybe pretty obvious is that spiritual formation provides the life, the fundamental source and life. It is the soul to the body, right? If the human nature is the body or the matter, spiritual formation — your relationship with God, your life of charity, properly speaking, as a theological virtue — is what informs the entire process. The entire process is informed ultimately, hopefully, by charity. Charity as the, what would you say? The form of forms. Right. The thing that can in fact permeate anything that is good and bring it back in direct relationship to God. And what I discovered to me that was most interesting is by — you could say, and it wasn’t totally this way in terms of the process of discovery — but you could say by process of elimination, that interestingly, makes intellectual formation the efficient or agent cause, the moving cause.

Dr. Walz: [00:50:01] The thing that if you think about what an efficient cause does like, it’s like if you’re building something like a bed maker, it’s putting the form and the matter together for the end. So the intellectual formation is an attempt to sort of bring it all together. And how do you bring together a process of human and personal formation? You bring it together through the intellect’s ability to appropriate all of that, to understand it and to make it one’s own. That’s how you appropriate and unify a properly human process. But let me give an example of that. So if I’m teaching my children that they should be grateful human beings, right, they should exercise gratitude, they should say thank you when people give them things. And we know that with little children, you know, if someone hands them a piece of candy at the, you know, doctor’s office, they might turn and say thank you. And it might feel a little rote, you know, and in a certain way you’ve sort of shaped them. But at that point they don’t really perhaps have the intellectual capacity to grasp the significance of that. And so how does it become one? How does it become integrated in them? How does it be brought together? As they grow older, you hope they begin to understand, oh, this is because that person was a person and they did this freely and it was a gift. And I need to reciprocate the gift with also a gift, a kind of gift of a thank you. And then it becomes one with…

Dr. Peter: [00:51:42] Okay, so that’s what I’m getting at. I’m almost imagining like a circuit board. Right. And when you teach these children to say thank you, it’s like you’re putting a resistor on the circuit board that won’t be integrated until some soldering happens later on, you know, and then all of a sudden you can access it because there’s been this process of integration, but the components are coming in, you know, early in life so that hopefully they can be integrated, you know, they can be connected later in life.

Dr. Walz: [00:52:12] And I think with intellectual formation from a kind of human point of view, what you want to shape in a person, in a future priest, perhaps, but in any human person is precisely that desire to appropriate and integrate what their experience is into themselves as a whole. Right. So that’s what I mean by connecting intellectual formation to efficient causality. Or you might think of it as like the unifying causality, the glue that holds the thing together. Because what really holds us together as human beings is our self-awareness, our ability to be present to ourselves and to see either the integrity that’s there or even sometimes, of course, the lack of integrity.

Dr. Peter: [00:52:59] So the USCCB has been very clear over the last few editions of the program for Priestly Formation that the primary one responsible for the formation of a seminarian is the seminarian himself.

Dr. Walz: [00:53:16] Yes.

Dr. Peter: [00:53:17] And so would that be another way of thinking about, like, the efficient cause here? Like, would that sort of be located, that responsibility in a sense… would you locate that kind of in the efficient cause? Again, understanding that all of this is integrated and so forth. But I just think about that as part of what we need to be using our intellect and our will for, kind of in that realm of intellectual formation, in a sense.

Dr. Walz: [00:53:39] Yeah. I guess I would say this is where you do start to see the limits of the causal model. Because the causal model presumes a kind of otherness between the one bringing about the thing and the thing.

Dr. Peter: [00:53:53] Ah, so it’s an external agent, right, that is forming.

Dr. Walz: [00:53:57] There’s something very clear when you have those clear distinctions.

Dr. Peter: [00:54:01] A sculptor in clay is different than one’s own formation.

Dr. Walz: [00:54:06] One’s own free undertaking. The reconfiguration of my own being. And this is where I think John Paul II is — if he had said, oh, it’s the four causes in that objective way, that could have led to real misunderstanding of the properly human character of this process.

Dr. Peter: [00:54:23] So there may have been real prudence in just, yeah.

Dr. Walz: [00:54:26] Another way to put that this is not just an artistic process that has that objectivity. The moral process — it’s about the appropriation of my own being towards an end, freely.

Dr. Peter: And respecting the dignity and the capacity to choose of the human person.

Dr. Walz: [00:54:46] Yes. In terms of presenting that objective picture of his own formation, it should help him understand the areas in himself that need to be worked on and integrated, because they are distinct from one another, even if never separated. Distinct, but never separated.

Dr. Peter: [00:55:09] Well, and we wouldn’t want to give the illusion that the seminarian or any person can affect their own formation, you know, because they are the efficient cause. You know, because a lot of formation cannot be done one to oneself. It’s got to be, the choice has to be to submit myself to someone else who can form me. In other words, to allow myself to be formed, right? To be responsive and receptive clay in the hands of the potter. So yeah, I can see where it kind of tying it too closely to the efficient cause, the seminarian’s responsibility, could lead there to being a lot of sort of lone rangers out there that are going to do it themselves.

Dr. Walz: [00:55:54] Yeah. And also clay has no ability to of itself invite receptivity. Right. Yeah. So I almost want to say that the four causal model is almost like an entryway into understanding the distinctions that are at play because of the complexity of being human and the complexity of being a priest, too. The complexity of being a human that is created and redeemed and meant to be a gift of self to others.

Dr. Peter: [00:56:30] That’s fascinating. I remember reading your article and thinking to myself, oh, I love this. But I remember thinking to myself, there seems to be some hesitation here to push the causes. You know, you kind of introduce them in the article in each. And now I’m understanding kind of your prudence in, let’s not push it too far. Because there could be an understanding of this that gets distorted and that loses the person and the process in the effort to exercise a program or an algorithm.

Dr. Walz: [00:57:02] Yeah, and I guess I would say the danger would be if you go the four causal route as sort of like imposing it upon it, the danger would be an over-objectification of the process. You would make it look too much like a shaping that is artistic, as if you could sort of take a human being and form them totally from the outside. And that’s why other ways of thinking about the fourfold-ness could be really helpful. So if the object of the process of formation is a well-formed priest, or a well-formed man disposed to priesthood, then I think the four causes is a helpful model. If — but let me take another possibility. What if you want to say what I really want is a virtuous priest. I want a loving priest. Like, if you take that, like, what’s at the heart of it? I want an excellent priest, a virtuous priest. And if Augustine’s right, that virtue really is the Ordo Amoris, right, “the orders of love”. Then what would happen if I saw that fourfold model through the lens of love? That would give you maybe a more interior way of understanding this four-fold ness, one that is helped by already understanding it objectively in terms of matter, form, efficient, and final causality, but one that now begins to see — and I would just suggest again, like, what would be love in the area of human formation? And it seems to me love of self, what you’re trying to shape or you’re trying to form in a young man is an appropriate love of self. Again, this is somewhat Aristotelian, and Aristotle says the virtuous man is the man who is most friends with himself.

Dr. Peter: [00:58:53] I was talking with Anthony Flood about this, and his book, The Metaphysical Foundations of Love has had a huge impact on my practice because he goes into this, you know, this idea, kind of like you said, there’s going to be integration one way or another. Anthony Flood is talking about how Aquinas says you’re going to love yourself one way or another. It’s either going to be in an ordered way, or it’s going to be in a disordered way. And so this idea of starting with the matter and seeing that it’s good and that it’s actually worthy of being respected and worthy of being loved because God loves us in our matter.

Dr. Walz: [00:59:37] Yes, exactly. And embracing every appetite you have as good. Of course, you know, making sure that it’s goodness has to be one that fits into an order. But it is… every appetite you have is good. Every desire you have, in it’s sort of fundamental being, is good. And I think that love of self is really a foundation for the other loves that — in the way that we talked about human formation, if human formation, understood through the lens of love, is about the perfecting of love of self, then you can begin to see how that has to be at the foundation of my love of neighbor. I mean, we’re told that in Scripture, right? Love your neighbor as yourself. So if your model for loving your neighbor is the way you love yourself, you got to get love of self right.

Dr. Peter: [01:00:30] Right, right. It’s presupposed. It’s presupposed in the second great commandment.

Dr. Walz: [01:00:33] Yes, exactly. So again, there we have a connection of love of self to human formation, love of neighbor, to pastoral formation. Maybe it’s obvious to say that spiritual formation is about charity or the love of God. So again, we have we have a way of thinking about the fourfold-ness through the lens of love. But again, we have this leftover. What about intellectual formation? What do I love there? And my claim would be you love truth. Now, truth is an interesting thing because truth in some ways includes God, neighbor, and self, right? But what does it mean to love the truth of God and to love the truth of the neighbor and the truth of the self? Because in some ways the intellectual formation only has available to it what is sort of already present in the other forms of formation. So you might say, like, I need to love myself as I am and as I ought to be. That’s the truth of myself. I have to love my neighbor as they are and as they ought to be. I have to love God as He truly is. And so, intellectual formation, by desiring that your understanding of these things be in accord with the way they really are, and studiously pursuing, wanting them to be the way they are and wanting to apprehend them as they are — which is what we do when we study and we really try to think through these things — that’s what’s at stake in intellectual formation.

Dr. Peter: [01:02:09] So we’re trying to get in touch with reality here. This is like how things actually are, which used to be actually a measure of mental health. Like how — well, you know, now that we’ve gotten so much wrapped up in subjectivity and, you know, even interpersonal, you know, subjectivity like that, we’ve been swept away by, you know, our own internal experience and phenomenology. We’ve, you know, but what you’re saying is that this love of truth is also in some ways, like a love of what actually exists.

Dr. Walz: [01:02:41] Yes. And it purifies and separates what actually exists from what you right now think exists. Like, you know, people might say, “Of course I love myself.” You know. But if you don’t know what you really are, just in being a human being and the full potentiality of your being, and say that this human being is not dualistic, but is in fact unified as a body and soul composite, then you don’t really love yourself. You love what you think yourself is. So actually coming to a right estimation of what human nature is enhances the possibility of love of self. Same with neighbor. Maybe most importantly, in a certain way with God. I can say I love God, but I might not have an appropriate understanding of him. I might be loving an idol in the end, loving some idol. So the studies that we undertake in terms of like, you know, liberal education, philosophy, theology are all attempts to clarify the very objects that are at stake in the other dimensions of formation. And in so doing, they actually align us better, and again, we can appropriate better the fullness of those dimensions of formation. So that would be a way of thinking about the fourfold-ness in terms of love.

Dr. Walz: [01:04:08] If you took love or virtue, I would say as… Let me just say one last thing, because I think the fourfold-ness actually lends itself to our really trying to put on the table several models that in various ways illuminate, because I think that model illuminates the interiority of the process, that the process is really about, what do I love? And in what order do I love? And do I love them as they actually are or ought to be? Another lens, and this one’s obviously more theological, would be through the lens of Christ. If you want to form a man to be Alter Christus, then taking Christ as… sort of thinking about what are the dimensions of Christ? Once again. What’s the foundation? He actually became a man. Right. So the first thing is, is Christ is a man. So like Christ, you have to try to perfect your humanity first. But Christ was also a priest, a prophet, and a king. And I think those descriptions of the Christ give you another fourfold-ness. Christ the man, Christ the priest. Spiritual formation. Christ the King. Pastoral formation. Christ the prophet. Intellectual formation. There are suggestions in Pastores Dabo Vobis that that’s also on the mind of John Paul II.

Dr. Peter: [01:05:38] Oh, wow.

Dr. Walz: [01:05:39] So again, I really want us to see the flexibility of this. I tend to think that the four causes provides like the most accessible way to think about it because of its objectivity. But I think we have to both interiorize that and I don’t know what to call this last one — theologize it, right. Make sure that it’s Christological. Most fundamentally, it’s Christological, because the goal of formation is ultimately to, as much as possible, to make this man be an Alter Christus in the world. And that’s true for all of us, of course. Right. Each of us. Second Vatican Council is very clear about this, like all of us are called as human to be priests, prophets and kings in the world, to exercise our priestly, prophetic and royal ministries.

Dr. Peter: [01:06:31] I think that gets lost so often when we become almost, in a way, Arian in our conceptualization of Christ. We forget that he’s a true man, you know? And Luke 2:52 right: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature in favor with God and man.” Like there’s a developmental process in his humanity, like he grew from being a baby to a full grown man just physically in his body. Right? You know, that was part of what he shared with us. And I think we can sometimes shy away from the earthy, human, enfleshed, you know, embodied being of our Lord and which is a temptation toward Arianism.

Dr. Walz: [01:07:12] Yeah, yeah. Let me if you don’t mind, I want to just read briefly this one passage from Pastores Dabo Vobis. This is in section 43. John Paul II writes, “The priest who is called to be a living image of Jesus Christ, head and shepherd of the church, should seek to reflect in himself as far as possible the human perfection which shines forth in the incarnate Son of God, and which is reflected with particular liveliness in his attitudes towards others, as we see narrated in the Gospels.” But I just want to emphasize the human perfection. Like, read the Gospels with an eye to, how is Christ exhibiting the fullness of humanity there? In any given situation, he has a certain attitude towards this person. He is exercising a certain emotion towards this person, or maybe a set of emotions, and to really try to enter into the humanity of Christ. One way that I talk about this, this is maybe just one example, like when I teach the seminarians about celibacy and what that means, you know, in a certain way, from a theological and philosophical point of view, I also encourage them to really think about — and this might sound strange to the listeners — but to think about the way in which Christ himself arrived at the choice of celibacy.

Dr. Walz: [01:08:46] Like he arrived at that. It became in him an expression of the virtue of chastity, particularly understood by him as a human being. He renounced marriage and undertook celibacy as a human being. He did so with the example of a virgin mother, and with Saint Joseph expressing for him and putting on display examples of chastity. So I tell the seminarians it might be important, not just that, like Christ, you become celibate, but maybe you actually try to imitate the way he arrived at his celibacy. And that might mean how do you relate to Our Lady? How do you relate to Saint Joseph? How are you allowing celibacy to not just be a fact about your life, but a process of being Christlike to try to enter into the human way in which it became a virtue expressed in his life. And I think that’s really important to think about with priestly formation. It’s not just about a product at the end, even in the process of formation, we have to at least try to think about — we don’t have a ton of evidence in the scriptures, to be sure — but we have to try to think about how he came to be a perfect human being in the possession of all the virtues.

Dr. Peter: [01:10:10] Well, and you can see the way that he responds is so radically different depending on the person he’s working with. The way that he responds to the woman at the well is very different than the way he responded to Peter when Peter wanted to deny the need for the crucifixion, it’s very different than the way that he responded to the Pharisees. And why? Because he has an amazing human repertoire of the capacity to engage. He’s not constricted by his, you know, “personality”. That’s one of the things for people that are really wedded to a single unitary idea of personality. I’ll say things like, well, what personality does Jesus have? You can’t come up with one, right? Or Our Lady, you know. Because why they actually have access to a far broader range of their humanness, that doesn’t allow it to be constricted to the idea of a personality, which is usually where just some particularly prominent aspects of a person are coming out. Instead, Jesus has the the entire range of that developed.

Dr. Walz: [01:11:21] Yes. And I think that’s why John Paul II… I think if if you think that he came to some realization that the human formation element is really crucial going forward in light of what he was facing before, I think that passage that I read becomes all the more important that we have to really think about the human perfection as the basis upon which we can build anything else — your prayer life, your pastoral life of ministry, your intellectual life. And I think the Gospels offer us way more there than we realize. There’s so many hints and nuances to, you know, when Christ is described as angry or when he’s described as compassionate, or when he’s described as… what looks like he’s making prudent plans about how to bring about his own crucifixion. I mean, he’s incredibly virtuously and humanly present to all the action that’s going on around him, inside him too, as well. But — and this is, again, where intellectual formation can really help if you start to understand the language of virtues and what they really refer to in real dispositions in real human beings — then you can actually read the scriptures with incredible light about the way in which Jesus was really well-formed humanly. I mean, if there was human formation going on in Nazareth, he was really well formed.

Dr. Peter: [01:12:58] Correct me if I’m wrong. He’s not a human being, but he is a true man, right? He’s a divine being with a human nature, not a human person.

Dr. Walz: [01:13:05] He’s not a human person.

Dr. Peter: Is he a human being? I mean… he is, okay. He is a human being. Okay, great. He’s not a human person. He’s a divine person with a human nature. Okay, great.

Dr. Walz: [01:13:14] But he has a human soul that has to inform this body and and get its appetites in order and, and etc., etc.

Dr. Peter: [01:13:21] That’s why March 25th is such a critical date. That’s the date that Pastores Dabo Vobis was released. And I think that’s significant, too, in light of what we’re talking about here, the Incarnation.

Dr. Walz: [01:13:35] Yeah, I talk about that a little bit at the beginning of that article, referred to Homiletic and Pastoral Review to really think about the the gestation of Jesus in the womb of Mary and importantly, in the womb of Mary, which means a relationship to Our Lady, but also, of course, Mary as an image of the church. Right. The seminarian is in the womb of the church, hopefully to be born at the end of this process as ready to receive the priesthood of Christ and become another Christ in the world. But, you know, if you look at a gestational process, it can be laborious. Just talk to women and think about all that has to go into the sort of interior formation of this being that is, you know, taking things from within itself and and reconfiguring it into a human body. I think that’s really helpful to think about both the exterior and interior dimensions of formation, that there’s a lot thrown at the seminarians, there’s a lot to cover even, there’s a lot to be educated in. But all of that has to be consumed, digested and integrated, and you might say, built out into the fullness of a human being who is intellectually, spiritually and pastorally ready to exercise priestly ministry.

Dr. Walz: [01:15:02] So I love that the fact that he, you know, again, this nothing is by accident in terms of his publishing that on March 25th, there’s no doubt that he has that in mind. And we haven’t, you know, in some ways, one thing that we haven’t discussed along those lines is integration is crucial, but I also think it’s really crucial to make the distinctions. Because in some ways the integration… like, all formators should know enough to be able to understand the integration. But the integration happens in this human person. And for that to happen, they need to see in the dimensions of formation as they experience it, both the distinction and the potentiality for integration. They have to see that for me to make progress in the process as a whole often demands that I really hone in on this aspect.

Dr. Peter: So we’re talking about integration within the person. And it could be really tempting to just say, well, we’ve got integration in the program. So of course we’re going to have integration in the person because the person is in an integrated program. So of course when they take that in, they’re going to take it in an integrated way. And you’re saying uh, no. Not necessarily.

Dr. Walz: [01:16:28] I think it is crucial that they see that that the set of formators before them, not only that, on a human level, they get along and want to see the best for the various — you know, that’s in some ways should be taken for granted, might not always be the case, but should be taken for granted. But they need to see in their formators that they understand the integration, that they understand the importance. So I imagine, you know, I deal with intellectual formation primarily, but when I’m talking to seminarians in my office, I have to be able to talk intelligently with them about the connectedness to spiritual formation of their life of study, about the way in which it demands certain human virtues of you, and the way in which it should illuminate when you go to the parish on Wednesday night as part of your pastoral formation. So they do need to see in formators both their concern for this particular aspect, as well as to begin to articulate the potentiality of interconnectedness. Just given the finitude of being human, the way we often develop is we have to focus in on a certain area. That’s just part of what it means to be a complex being, that there has to be time that is deeply dedicated to study. There has to be time that’s deeply dedicated to pastoral charity. There has to be time deeply dedicated to prayer. There has to be time that’s deeply dedicated to self-awareness and and maybe working at counseling and working on myself psychologically. So I think it’s really important to, you want to emphasize distinction, but always emphasize integration and then emphasize distinction. There has to be this sort of dialectic between integration and distinction at play in the seminarian and of course, their sort of primary formator is the one who most likely does that or should be doing that.

Dr. Peter: [01:18:37] Well, you had this great term — I’d never seen anything like this before in this literature. But you have this term called dimensional trespassing. Dimensional trespassing. I just have to have you tell us about dimensional trespassing and what it is and what it looks like.

Dr. Walz: [01:18:55] Yeah, it’s like, stay in your lane, you know? Stay in your lane. Yeah. And in some ways, I’m making reference to the Our Father as it’s expressed in English. So there’s a little bit of, there can be real injustice in trying to not respect the distinctive character of these dimensions of being human, and in a certain way, you do an injustice to, especially the seminarian or whoever it is that’s being formed, by suggesting to them, for instance, that there are solutions according to one dimension for problems in a different dimension. If you haven’t resolved in yourself certain, say, psychological issues, or if you’re still struggling with the formation of this virtue, like, you know, whatever it be, whether it be purity or overdrinking or, you know, it’s often manifested in modes of intemperance in particular. And you think that you could pray it away, forget it. You know, and if your spiritual formator or your spiritual director is giving you that impression, then he’s actually trying to solve a human problem with a spiritual answer. And I think in intellectual formation, I have seen a lot the over-spiritualization of intellectual formation. So that’s maybe just because that’s where I sort of dwell mostly is thinking about intellectual.

Dr. Peter: [01:20:26] Preach it, brother Dr. Walz! I mean, I just know really because there are people that… I see this as a psychologist all the time. Right. But my spiritual director says, you know, and the spiritual director is speaking way out of turn, or, you know, I can see it also where, I’ve had cases where — I’m not a theologian, but they’re getting advice that’s not even consistent with philosophy and theology, but it’s within the realm of, you know, I’ve seen, you know — not to pick on particular groups — but, you know, some charismatic stuff has gotten way off the rails as far as, like what, you know, what that actually meant from an intellectual perspective. Right? Like it starts to starts to twist an accurate understanding of philosophy and theology. So, so yeah, I see this all the time.

Dr. Walz: [01:21:09] I could say more about the problems with that. I mean, it’s even a misunderstanding of the spiritual even, because it doesn’t understand the way that charity actually suffuses everything without being in competition with any of the good that’s there. But it’s interesting to me that… I don’t know if it’s just because it’s what I experienced the most, but I also get the sense, given the time given to intellectual formation and given the fact that intellectual formation… People exhibit by nature more or less just natural intelligence. So it has a maybe a clearer way of differentiating people. And so, I mean, it was funny — I was just talking the other day to a seminarian about this — that sometimes seminarians will invoke, like the Cure of Ars, he still became a priest and like because he was so spiritual, almost like he didn’t even have to worry about his intellectual.

Dr. Peter: [01:22:08] Right, three out of four ain’t bad, right? Dimension wise, right?

Dr. Walz: [01:22:10] And then whenever I have a seminarian say something like that to me, I said, “Have you ever read the sermons of The Cure of Ars?” And when you read his sermons, you realize this is a man who is seriously pursuing truth. And maybe — and I don’t know enough about his whole story — but maybe he wasn’t the most naturally intelligent human being on earth, but I guarantee in seminary he went after it. He did not give up on his intellectual formation. So he actually pursued the truth with great love for truth, knowing that that is a fundamental human good and a fundamental human love that Christ Himself had perfected by growing in wisdom and knowledge before God and men, and that I must perfect as well. And when you read his sermons, it doesn’t look like a guy who’s overly spiritual; it looks like a guy who understands the objective truth about things — the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of nature itself. So I always think those examples are really poorly misunderstanding what it means to give oneself to these dimensions, and not to allow that trespassing to take place, because the trespassing always has the false promise ultimately, that if you just focus in on this dimension somehow, it will cover all the rest. And that’s just not true to who we are as complex beings.

Dr. Peter: [01:23:50] What about the situation that I sometimes come across where a professional of some stripe, let’s say a therapist, says, “Well, I’m going to get training as a spiritual director. And I also have a master’s degree in philosophy, so I can do it all. I can provide, you know, the means for human formation because of my counseling background. And I got spiritual direction training so I can do spiritual formation. And I have a background, you know, that qualifies me to do intellectual formation. And of course, that’s all going to lead to good pastoral formation. So I don’t have to stay in a lane, really. I can, since I’m all cross-trained up, I can do this all.” And what would you — I certainly have my own thoughts about that — but I’m curious about what you would say. Does the risk of dimensional trespassing dissolve or evaporate because somebody is — this is outside the seminary, obviously — because somebody is working with somebody one-on-one in some kind of personal accompaniment and has a background like that.

Dr. Walz: [01:24:47] Yeah, I would say it’s maybe all the more necessary. So a couple of things: if I were talking to such a person, I would ask them, “Well, did you arrive at all those excellencies in one in the same way, you know, didn’t you have to do a different course of studies, one that might have demanded, say, practicum in a way that your philosophy didn’t?” So, number one, you arrived at any of that yourself along different lanes. And number two, and this is where that question of some of my caveats about the four causes and not objectifying the process. It’s really crucial to me that the seminarian or the person who’s being formed, whether even if it’s outside the seminary, know the kind of input that’s being given so that they can do the integrative work.

Dr. Walz: You cannot integrate from the outside. It’s not possible. And there’s a certain kind of way in which that person seems convinced that whatever they offer can somehow impose integration on the person, but it can’t. And so you have to be very deliberate about the kind of food you’re offering so that they can, as — that meal analogy was interesting — so that they can put together the meal.

Dr. Walz: [01:26:08] Because if you hand it to them on a plate, they didn’t actually interiorly make the meal themselves. So really it’s almost like such a person would have to be — without it being too artificial — would have to be very clear with the seminarian about the kind of counsel and formation and help that’s being offered. You know, do I ever give the guys in my office spiritual advice? To be sure. They know it’s not intellectual advice. It’s natural that you’re going to be addressing those. And sometimes the clarity can just become, you know, just little signals that you give. Like you know, in my opinion, this, that, or the other. But I will say I often hesitate to go beyond and I should have a certain hesitation about that. And maybe to put this in also an institutional context; we’re working in the seminary. You’re working on behalf of the church. And if I’m the director of intellectual formation, the church has entrusted that to me and not something else.

Dr. Peter: [01:27:14] So there are graces that come with that position.

Dr. Walz: [01:27:17] Yeah. The graces. The institution is not separated from the charismatic work of the Holy Spirit. And again, you do not want to get into a dualism about that. I need to trust by sort of staying in my lane, that I am, in fact, giving what the Holy Spirit wants given to that seminarian. And that my holding back from doing something else or adding to it might in fact be the channel of grace that they need.

Dr. Peter: [01:27:47] Excellent. Well, there’s a humility about that, and a trust in God’s providential care for this individual. And I think also there’s a set of checks and balances in it, because what I get concerned about with this type of dynamic is that we get into guruism, you know, like there’s some press within the person who needs to be more than what their lane says. And there’s an issue of consent too, like you were addressing implicitly. Like, what is the person consenting to? You know, even if I’m a therapist who also happens to have training as a spiritual director and somebody comes to me for therapy, signs the consent forms, and thinks they’re getting therapy, and I start working in spiritual direction, you know, has there been consent for that? You know, and this is this goes back to your statements about how the accompanying person cannot do the integration, right. And so we have to trust that God has asked that multiple people be, you know, involved in this process. You know, I’m remembering Saint Paul, right? You know, one person plants, another person waters. There’s a whole, you know, sort of — it takes a community. It takes the entirety of the mystical body of Christ. We’re not supposed to just pair off into these little dyads and do formation that way.

Dr. Walz: [01:29:04] Fundamental expression of that wisdom of the church is in the most basic distinction between the external forum and the internal forum. Like that, you might say, is the ultimate staying in your lane. Like if you’re in the external faculty, do not trespass on the internal; the internal has to remain silent. Like, if spiritual directors are at our faculty meetings, they have to remain silent.

Dr. Peter: [01:29:31] Give us the definition of internal and external forum because not everybody might know what those are.

Dr. Walz: [01:29:35] Yeah. So the internal forum is sort of you could see it as something like the expansion of the confessional seal to the entirety of the spiritual life of a seminarian, who brings to his spiritual director matters of conscience and spirituality, and he can rely on a deep confidentiality that will be kept, that that spiritual director will not share any details of what comes up in their spiritual direction or in their confessions with the other faculty, unless there’s express permission granted to bring it, as we would say, bring it to the external forum. And the way… I think what’s beautiful about that, and it gets at this question, Peter, is like it sort of gives a space and an opportunity for the seminarian, in the case of a seminary, to try to work out that integration on their own, almost, with the help of a director, and to bring it to the external forum at a moment where they’re ready to actually receive whatever kind of criticism or advice that they need externally in dealing with that. So in some ways, you could say it’s the forum in which the conscience of the one being formed is put on display, but it has to be put on display to someone who has sort of vowed to keep it private until permission is granted. Because the conscience, the heart, I mean, we could describe it in different ways, but that’s the place where the ultimate integration is going to take place. The conscience is a way of describing it, maybe from a more intellectual point of view. But there is a space in which that ultimate integration is taking place, and where the the one being formed is in some ways making judgments about himself and about the good of what he’s achieved thus far. And he needs to be able to be vulnerable sufficiently with someone to do that well. And the only way to really secure such vulnerability is with this confidentiality.

Dr. Peter: [01:31:50] So I have a long history of being interested in psychologically abusive groups, what are often called cults. And I’ve done some consulting with the International Cultic Studies Association and have been brought in, referred by them. For a number of years, I was their top go-to, if there was a problem in a convent or a monastery or something like that, or some organization has gone off the rails. And there was always, always, this dimensional trespassing, when there is, you know, credible psychological manipulation or abuse, there’s always a violation of the sort of distinctiveness of these four dimensions in the formation. And the formation is always oriented to something other than, you know, the person’s highest good. And so it gets off the rails that way.

Dr. Walz: [01:32:42] And I think it’s always presented… not always, but probably most likely to be presented as somehow addressing directly the spiritual dimension, because everyone sort of knows that that’s the one that is going to… I don’t know, in the heart of someone who’s serious about religion and stuff, it’s going to be the most important in their mind. They sort of bastardize the spiritual dimension, turn it into a sort of form of idolatry. And then — I’m not going to name any specific groups or anything — but the possibility of dimensional trespassing from the side of spiritual dimensions seems to me the most dangerous.

Dr. Peter: [01:33:20] And I wrote a whole series of articles on spiritual bypassing, and spiritual bypassing is all about silencing what’s going on at the human natural level and taking everything immediately to the spiritual level. And I wrote a whole series of weekly reflections on that, and it’s what Robert Lifton called mystical manipulation, you know, he coined that term back in the late 50s. And it can be really, really powerful, because if we don’t have that intellectual formation, you don’t know. It’s harder to see where spiritual formation may start coloring outside the lines.

Dr. Walz: [01:34:01] Yes, there are other ways, just to fill this out a little bit about dimensional trespassing. There are other ways to trespass besides just getting in another dimension’s business, so to speak. I think other ways are not prudently distributing time to different dimensions. If you look at that article in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, when it comes to pastoral formation in the seminary, the Pope seems in Pastores Dabo Vobis seems like pretty concerned about not letting pastoral formation overtake the whole thing. And it’s true. I’ve seen this when seminarians get a taste of pastoral formation, its powerful for them, and they would like dedicate hours to it if they could. But as a matter of fact, most of their time probably has to be spent studying and then probably praying next and then probably working on their moral life, their psychological health and then the pastoral work. They need to get a taste of it, and we need to see that they’re capable, but there can be trespassing just in a sort of quantitative way. Same thing can happen by the way with studies. Some guys can be so grade-conscious. Their studies really diminish their progress in spiritual formation and human formation. And also psychologically — it may be that you need too much help psychologically that that would just consume your formation program. And therefore in some ways you’re maybe not ready…

Dr. Walz: [01:35:31] …for formation, because you really need to get to a level of psychological health that’s at least sufficient that it won’t dominate the process.

Dr. Peter: And I think that’s what the bishops were trying to get at in the PPF 6, when they said, “If a man needs ongoing psychological or counseling, psychotherapy or counseling, he’s not ready.” Now, I think that assumes a model of therapy or counseling that is more restorative or rehabilitative. I think there’s other models of therapy that are more based off of the positive psychology tradition, where it’s about flourishing and developing. So I’m not sure I would agree with that statement without some nuance in there, you know, but I appreciate what you’re saying, that yes, if there is too much work that needs to be done in shoring up that natural foundation, if it’s too soon to be starting to build on that with these other dimensions, then yeah, it’s time to take a break or to delay entry.

Dr. Walz: [01:36:30] Yeah. And just from an experiential point of view, I don’t want to brag too much, but Holy Trinity Seminary is a very good seminary. It’s really got its ducks in a row in a lot of ways. And I’m sort of, I think, justly proud to be associated with it and to be part of it in some way. But the one thing I realize is a question like that, about like, where a man is when it comes to whether it’s too much like psychological is needed here — that takes an incredible amount of time and deliberation. Formation takes a lot of time. And I’m just talking about the time on the part of the formator, let alone the seminarian who has to be quite attentive to his process of formation. But you cannot do this work without investing in it temporally and thoughtfully. I almost want to say it’s been a bit of a surprise to me about how intensely and how extensively, how much it demands of formators. On the other hand, being a parent, it shouldn’t surprise me. Like, it just should not surprise me at all. But when you see priests, like when they undertake that process with with a kind of fatherliness that I find to be so beautiful, it’s so impressive to see. A priest in a seminary who is undertaking that in a manner that looks very much like the time, commitment, and intensity that it takes me to try to be a good parent. And the guys who come out of that seminary are, generally speaking, incredibly grateful because they just sense like, “I had a really good set of spiritual fathers.” And by the way, a few mothers in that process help to see that there is a feminine dimension that can be extremely helpful. And I would add a lay dimension — in the seminary, it does seem to be important to have a lay voice that can be very helpful in bringing perspective, especially perspective from parenting. That can be really helpful against some of these possibilities of over-spiritualizing of things.

Dr. Peter: [01:38:45] I did seminarian assessments for 15 years. I really specialized in that up until just a few years ago, when the Souls and Hearts thing started to take off and I had to reduce my practice in some ways. And the most difficult question was not sort of the sexual history questions. And I had a very detailed sexual history we’d go into. The guys could talk about that by and large usually. But I had this six foot mirror that I had in my office, and I would stand the seminarian candidate, the applicant, in front of the mirror and have him look at himself for 30 seconds, just have him look at himself for 30 seconds in the mirror. And then I would ask this question: “Who are you?” You know, and I would have him answer while looking at themselves in the mirror, you know, because it got at some of these very basic questions of identity, right. These very basic questions about the matter. And a lot of them really struggled with that. You know, a lot of them really struggled. And you could kind of tell where their biases were in these four dimensions by where they went. You know, some of them would give you a catechism answer: “I’m a body and soul composite. I’m a rational animal.” You know, you’d think, okay, this guy is more in the intellectual domain, right. Others would say, “I’m a beloved little child of God”, but they would say it in a way that didn’t have much affect or much emotion.

Dr. Peter: [01:40:05] It was sort of like recited, like so this seemed more like spiritualized, you know, and some guys would say, you know, it would be honest, like, “I don’t know who I am”, right? And that would reveal, you know, kind of where they were in terms of the matter. The basic human formation and stuff. And some of the guys would be very much on that pastoral side. You know, “I’m excited. I’m a priest in the making” or “I’m a priest wannabe so that I can go out and save souls and win souls for Christ”, you know. And not that it was definitive in and of itself, but man, it was illuminative. From what I heard later on, it was the worst, it was the worst part of the interview. And I did this for a number of different dioceses and so forth. It wasn’t just local, but that’s how I think I earned my moniker of Doctor Malinoscopy. People referred to going into that assessment as getting your Malinoscopy. And I think what’s happened — I’ve stayed in touch with the Catholic Psychotherapy Association, their division on seminary and assessment — it’s gotten so much better in the last few years in terms of like what the national standards are. So a lot of great people are working on that to just to kind of develop the standards for how we understand who’s ready for seminary and who’s not ready, you know.

Dr. Walz: [01:41:21] And I would say just — and I don’t have a ton of experience in all this — but I also think there’s just a slowly growing, and it would help if perhaps it grew a little faster, but a slowly growing population of psychologists and psychiatrists who actually understand Catholic anthropology and want to really, like, that’s crucial. I mean, the counselor, the therapist. They are bringing an anthropology. And I’ve seen like wonders can be worked if that anthropology is sound and solid and ultimately rooted and philosophically theologically grounded, it can be so helpful. If they have the wrong anthropology — really detrimental. It’s just, if I could just add one thing. You said about the having them in front of the mirror. I’ve lately — this is a little bit unrelated, but — when I think about the vocational question, and I’ve done a lot of work with Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II in the last several years, really dived into his work, you might say, in teaching classes on it. But one thing I’ll say to my students now, and sometimes my seminarians as well, is in some ways the vocational question is, “What does God want me to do with this body? What does God want me to do with this body?” And I think in some ways that’s extremely illuminating the way that you said — very difficult to ask because it probes your attitude towards your body pretty clearly. But I think it really does spring out of the thrust of the theology of the body, the thrust of love and responsibility, and why the body is so crucial. You know, I always, I think about that, I think of that Hebrews text where — it’s the son speaking: “A body you have given me.” Jesus was given a body to deploy in this world, ministerially. The question for all of us is what am I going to do with this body? What does God want me to do with this body?

Dr. Peter: [01:43:30] That is brilliant. And I would ask these seminarians about their bodies, because that mirror interview — that actually grew out of assessments for eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders, because it brings you into contact, you know, visual contact with your body. And that can be really disorienting for people who want to live in an intellectual sphere, who want to get away from, you know, the man or the body, who have this dualistic antagonism between the spiritual and the material worlds, things like that.

Dr. Walz: [01:44:05] The whole thrust of the culture is so incipiently Manichean that way. And I think that just to sort of go full circle, I think this going back like this is why the four dimensions are so crucial and maybe why I was arguing earlier that the human dimension and the question of what do I do with my animality, what do I do with my body — in some ways is the key, or at least it was the missing link, I think, when JPII was looking back at formation and thinking, we’ve forgotten the body. And in some ways the theology of the body is saying to the whole world, we’ve forgotten the body! Don’t forget the body. It’s as he puts it in the Theology of the Body with the Incarnation, the body walks through the front door of theology. Like, how can you believe in incarnation and not think that the body is absolutely essential, and even the interpretive key for understanding both God and man?

Dr. Peter: [01:45:11] This is amazing stuff. And I could talk on this for hours and hours, but in the interest of kind of respecting some time boundaries here and the interest of this episode not going to three hours long, we should begin to draw to a close, but I just — any final messages, any final things you’d like to speak out directly to the audience? You know, any final thoughts that you’d like to share?

Dr. Walz: [01:45:34] I guess I would say we have been — and there are good reasons for this — we’ve been talking about these questions through the lens of priestly formation. And there’s good reason to do that. And just sort of providentially, in some ways, this fourfold model comes through the work of John Paul II addressing priestly formation. But I think it’s really important for — and I’m sure the listeners would know this — we are talking about a model for really any human personal formation and, I think at the very least, we can just be helped first and foremost by sort of making these distinctions and really thinking through the integrated-ness. And then maybe if we do want to enter into a mode of becoming real causes of our own integration, formationally, to really think about those areas where I need specific efforts. Now I’m an intellectual formation director. And in some ways, especially as we grow older and get busy in the world, that could be one of the ones that drops off the radar — not making sufficient time to do what John Paul II seems to identify as the proper activity of intellectual formation, namely studying, eagerly pursuing the truth. And especially in a world that’s, you know, very distracting in all sorts of ways from the gadgets in our hands to everything else.

Dr. Walz: [01:47:01] Intellectual formation has to be an ongoing process. So a little bit of a plug for really attending to what I think to be a really crucial dimension for integrating our lives, keeping our intellect alive, wondering, always pursuing the truth about these matters, which helps us to avoid all sorts of ideologies and over spiritualization and giving a real place for your intellect to expand and to remain alive. So that might look a little bit like a biased plug for intellectual formation to conclude, but I do think the world is dying for that kind of witness to truth and intellectual manifestation of wisdom that is embodied in a holistic, integrated program of understanding how we’re formed. We need prophets, would be one way to put it, a really prophetic dimension. Certainly the Second Vatican Council was so focused in on that. You got that also with Paul VI and Evangelii Nuntiandi. We need witnesses. We’re in an age that needs witness, and you can’t really witness unless you’re deeply in love with and grounded in truth.

Dr. Peter: [01:48:21] That is beautiful. I’m just so excited, I knew in my bones that this was going to be an excellent episode. I just could tell. But this has exceeded even those high expectations. We need to be hearing about this integration of the four dimensions. We need the practical examples, you know, the actual illustrations of this so that we can wrap our minds around this. And it’s not just at an institutional level relegated to the seminaries that are tasked with, you know, the formation of future priests, but in our own lives as well.

Dr. Walz: [01:49:03] Yeah. Parenting for example.

Dr. Peter: [01:49:05] Parenting. Oh my goodness. Yeah. I mean, how much influence parents have in the formation of their children. You’re the father of eight. You know, this is a huge thing, you know.

Dr. Walz: [01:49:18] And how parents could be really helped by thinking through these four dimensions. Like what do I, what do I naturally give priority to and what do I not? And to make sure that I’m really filling in on all four sides, so to speak.

Dr. Peter: [01:49:32] Right? I mean, I think about the example of the family rosary and my family. We talked about this a little bit in episode 131, where I don’t make my three-year-olds kneel during the five decades of the rosary, you know, and have their hands prayerfully folded with the beads, you know, like following along. They’re not ready for that. They need to associate really positive things with the rosary. They need to be able to snuggle in and be loved while we pray the family rosary, you know. And so there’s a human element to this that’s attuned to the mode of the receiver.

Dr. Walz: [01:50:11] Even we parents can trespass dimensionally. I mean, I do think in some ways for Wojtyla, I do think for Wojtyla, the question of parenting, mothering and fathering is at the center of what it means to be human, to be ethical for him. And so Pastores Dabo Vobis seems to me to really arise out of his deep, deep, deep thinking about marriage and the family. And in some ways, it’s really kind of taking a sense of what it takes to form a child. And mutatis mutandis, making the right adjustments, and putting that into a seminary context. But I think he would be happy to know that this dimensional approach, fourfold dimensional approach, would be applied across the board in any situation where you’re really trying to bring to maturity this mysterious, natural spiritual unity called the human person into their fullness.

Dr. Peter: [01:51:17] And your position is we shouldn’t wait for one of the popes, or we shouldn’t wait for the bishops to do this. We should be thinking as laypeople about how we can contribute to this. Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Walz: [01:51:34] Yeah. And if you’re an employer, if you’re a father, if you’re a psychologist, this forcefulness can be really illuminating for you. I’d really like, really bring that to how am I aware of on the other side of my action, these persons that bring this complexity to me, that I’m addressing one way or another, their spirituality, their humanity, their sociability, and their love of truth. Somehow I’m always addressing them. And I will be better present to them and more loving to them if I respect the full dimensionality of their being. So I do really think it’s a model that can be sort of appropriately and prudently universalized to the way that we bring to maturity to other persons every time we encounter them and as well as, of course, ourselves.

Dr. Peter: [01:52:29] So this is not something that just remains in the realm of ideals.

Dr. Walz: [01:52:32] And not in the realm of priestly formation. It could get lost there. Like it could be this beautiful secret that only seminarians and religious orders have, but I don’t think it was intended that way ultimately.

Dr. Peter: [01:52:45] If people want to get in touch with you, Dr. Walz, you know, what would be a good email? Or how should they do that?

Dr. Walz: [01:52:52] Yeah, the best way would be email. Probably my email at the University of Dallas, which is mwalz@udallas.edu. So just the letter u, dallas.edu. You could also look me up on Google — my name and University of Dallas and that’ll come up as well.

Dr. Peter: [01:53:12] Brilliant. Well, so glad to have you, so much here to think about. In the next two episodes, those will be solo casts, and I will be introducing two new models of integrated Catholic personal formation. I’m really excited about those. I’ve got a lot more to think about in developing those models after our conversation, Matthew. It’s so good to have that. And then we have a great list of guests lined up to join us in the conversation about integrating the four dimensions of formation. These are men and women from all kinds of different ministries, walks of life, that are involved in the different domains of formation. So they’re going to be talking about how do they actually do it in these different ministries, these different organizations. That’s going to stretch through the spring and summer of 2024. So there’s going to be a long series with that. And then just an invitation — if you are feeling inclined to leave a review on Apple Podcasts, we would love to get some reviews, let people know what we’re doing here. Remember, I have conversation hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. You can call me on my cell phone (317) 567-9594. As long as, you know, as long as you’re a listener to this podcast or you take in the weekly reflections that Souls and Hearts sends out, we’d love to hear from you.

[01:54:39] Also, don’t forget Dr. Gerry and I will be at the Catholic Psychotherapy Association conference from April 25th to 27th, 2024. It’s going to be in New Orleans. Check it out at CatholicPsychotherapy.org on Wednesday night, April 24th from 8 to 10 p.m.. Anyone associated with Souls and Hearts is welcome. We’re going to have a meetup. We’re going to get together. We’re going to spend some time in fellowship. We’re going to do some experiential exercises. We’re going to have some didactic stuff as well. And depending on how many people come, we’ll find an appropriate venue. So if you’re interested in that, reach out to me at crisis@soulsandhearts.com. The next night after the Catholic Psychotherapy Association Social Hour, which ends at 7 p.m. local time on Thursday, April 25th, we’ll get together again. For those that are involved with Souls and Hearts for a private event, just for those that are attending the CPA conference. So that’ll run from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 25th, 2024. Souls and Hearts will also have a vendor table at the Catholic Psychotherapy Association conference, in the vendor hall. Dr. Gerry will be there. You can get him to sign a copy of his new book, so that would be awesome. And you can check out his presentation with Christian Amalu. Many of you have downloaded Christian’s dissertation at Divine Mercy University, which is all about grounding Internal Family Systems in a Catholic understanding of the human person.

[01:56:02] According to the Catholic Christian model of the human person. We focus on human formation here at Souls and Hearts, with some emphasis also on intellectual formation. We also do that in communities. So if you are a Catholic who holds what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches to be true, and you’re inspired to work on your own human formation, but you want to do this not as a lone wolf, but in community, in a way that brings in Internal Family Systems and parts work, but that’s firmly grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human person — you can check out the Resilient Catholics Community at soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Now, Dr. Gerry and I have been thinking a lot about human formation, and as part of that discernment, we decided that we were going to add Saint Joseph as a patron of Souls and Hearts. Why? Because Saint Joseph had so much to do with Jesus’ human formation, so much to do with Jesus’ formation in general, but his human formation in particular, in the home in Nazareth. And so we’ve added him to Our Lady, Untier of Knots and to Saint John the Baptist who prepared the way for the Lord. So now we’ll go to our invocations. Our Lady, our Mother, Untier of Knots. Pray for us, Saint Joseph. Pray for us. Saint John the Baptist. Pray for us.

Special thanks to the Human Formation Coalition, who provided the support to make this transcript available.