IIC 134: Looking at Integrated Personal Formation Through a Mathematical Lens


In this episode, we discuss how models help us more fully understand Catholic personal formation by showing distinctions and relationships among human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. Next, we examine my new model that views formation through a mathematical lens. I explain each dimension of formation, likening them to a branch of mathematics, and draw from Pastores Dabo Vobis and other Church documents to illuminate the inter-dimensional relationships in personal formation. Finally, I tell a fictional story that illustrates how deficits in one domain of formation can negatively impact all the other dimensions of formation.


[00:00:00] “The task of formation is to help the person to integrate these aspects human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation and pastoral formation under the influence of the Holy Spirit, in a journey of faith and of gradual and harmonious maturity, avoiding fragmentation, polarization, excesses, superficiality, or partiality.” Ratio Fundamentalis, paragraph 28. That’s what we are looking at doing today. That’s what we are seeking. Andrew Wiles, “The difference between the poet and the mathematician is that the poet tries to get his head into the heavens, while the mathematician tries to get the heavens into his head.” “Mathematics has beauty and romance. It’s not a boring place to be. The mathematical world. It’s an extraordinary place. It’s worth spending time there.” That’s from Marcus du Sautoy. And then, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Dr. Seuss. 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 am a clinical psychologist, trauma therapist, podcaster, writer, co-founder and president of Souls and Hearts. But most of all, I am a beloved little Son of God. I am a beloved little son of God, my father, of Mary, my mother. And I am here 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 and Mary your mother, your spiritual parents, your primary parents.

[00:02:20] I’m here to help you embrace your identity as a beloved little child of God and Mary. That’s what this podcast is all about. That’s what this episode is all about. And 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. And why? To help you flourish in love. To flourish in love. This is Interior Integration for Catholics, episode number 134. It releases on March 18th, 2024, and it is titled “Looking at Integrated Personal Formation Through a Mathematical Lens”. We are continuing our series on integrated personal formation, grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human person and informed by the teachings of our Catholic faith. It is so good to be here. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your attention. This podcast would not exist if it were not for you and my other listeners. You make it all happen. This podcast is also coming out in video form. It’s a brand new thing and I will explain why later, but you can still listen to it in audio just fine. If you want to pick up the video, go to our Interior Integration for Catholics landing page at soulsandhearts.com/iic, or you can look for Interior Integration for Catholics, our channel, on YouTube. All right. So just to back up a bit, we kicked off this series on the integration of personal information with our last episode, episode 133, titled “Models of Integrated Personal Formation Catholic Style, with Matthew Walz, PhD”. Now Dr. Matthew Walz is a professor of psychology at the University of Dallas and at Holy Trinity Seminary, and he shared with us three models of integrated personal formation or three lenses, if you want to think of it that way, through which we could look at personal formation, all of them based in the four dimensions of formation that Saint John Paul II provided us in his 1992 apostolic exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis.

[00:04:47] These four interrelated dimensions of formation are first, human formation, second, spiritual formation, third, intellectual formation, and fourth, pastoral formation. Now in one of Dr. Walz’s models, he connects Aristotle’s four causes to the four dimensions of personal formation, and he had published that before in a January 2021 Homiletic and Pastoral Review article titled Toward a Causal Account of Priestly Formation: A Reading of Pastores Dabo Vobis. And there — this is a brief review — he said that human formation is the raw matter of formation, our raw natural humanity, corresponding to Aristotle’s material cause. Spiritual formation was the development of our personal relational connection with God in the spiritual life, the form that our matter should take. Intellectual formation that corresponded to the efficient cause and then pastoral formation corresponded to the final cause. What he did then I thought was just amazing because he introduced two new models or two new lenses through which to look at personal formation.

[00:06:05] He brought one in of the four loves, basically arguing that human formation is oriented toward ordered self love. Spiritual formation is oriented toward loving God. Intellectual formation is oriented toward loving the truth, and pastoral formation is oriented toward loving your neighbor. And then he brought in another model, a Christological model of the four dimensions of formation. And this is important because Jesus is our model for personal formation. And human formation looks at Jesus as a man, as a human being in his humanity. Spiritual formation looks at Jesus as Christ the priest. Intellectual formation looks at Jesus as Christ the prophet. And pastoral formation looks at Jesus as Christ the King. All right. So I really encourage folks to go back, if you didn’t listen to episode 133, to those three models. That was a fascinating conversation and really sets the tone for this whole series on personal formation that’s going to run for many episodes. There’s so much to discuss here, there’s so much to explore here, but just a brief discussion of the importance of models of formation. Why do we need these models? Why do we need these lenses through which to look at the four dimensions of formation? Well, first of all, models are lenses; they help us understand what formation is actually in the different domains or in the different dimensions. Second, looking at this through models or through lenses helps us to understand the distinctions among the different dimensions of formation.

[00:07:54] Third, looking at this with models or with lenses helps us understand the relationships among the different dimensions. And fourth, models help us with the integration of the four dimensions of formation. And why? Why do we need that? Well, the short answer is so that you and I can live out that formation. That’s why, that’s the reason. It’s absolutely indispensable that we travel this road of formation. And the church has called for integrated formation in many ways, at many times. The importance of multiple models of formation came out in our last episode, that we have more than one. Why? Because these different lenses show us different aspects of the four dimensions of formation and how they interrelate. All models have shortcomings. They all have limitations because the model is not the actual thing, it’s not the actual reality. A model is an attempt to represent that underlying reality or that thing, but it is not the thing itself. Also, we’re sharing these different models of formation because we want to stimulate critical thinking and reflection. We want the listeners, we want you to be thinking about how to apply these models to yourself and to those for whom you have some responsibility for formation. So this includes parents. Many of you are parents responsible for the formation of your children. Teachers, coaches, therapists, pastors, spiritual directors, confessors, RCIA instructors, ministers of all kinds, religious education staff.

[00:09:49] The list can go on and on about who is responsible for formation, but we are all primarily responsible for our own formation, our own human formation, our own spiritual formation, our own intellectual formation, our own pastoral formation. We have that responsibility. It’s part of the dignity of being a human person. And so, 15 days ago, the world had only one model of integrated formation of the four different dimensions that Saint John Paul II gave us in Pastores Dabo Vobis. Now, that was the one in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review article by Dr. Walz. Now, since our last episode, courtesy of Dr. Matthew Walz, we have three models of integrated human formation. Now, today I want to add one more, one that’s very different from the ones we already have. So, rather than curse the darkness and lament the lack of integrated models of formation, let’s add one more. We’ve got an exponential growth in these models, right, on this podcast. Let’s add one more. Let’s add one candle together to more clearly illuminate how to understand, how to take responsibility for and live out our call to be formed more and more into an alter Christus, ipse Christus, another Christ, Christ himself, our model for personal formation. And this episode opens a new chapter for the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast. A video version. Because I wanted to be able to show you this model, to draw this model out for you while I’m discussing this model, especially for those of you who are more visual.

[00:11:39] So the video version of this episode will be on our landing page at soulsandhearts.com/iic. We’re also going to put it up on our Interior Integration for Catholics YouTube channel, and I think it’s going to be on Vimeo as well. I’m excited about that. Now don’t worry, if you just want to stay with the audio, I will be explaining everything out loud so you don’t need the video to make sense of the presentation. If you like the audio only, if that works for you, if that fits your lifestyle, then just keep on with the audio and that’s great. Now, I have spent hours studying church documents and commentaries on the four dimensions of formation human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral foundation. And as we discussed at length in the last episode, episode 133, those church documents do not contain any developed models. Now, the only model that I was able to find originally was Matthew Walz’s model, in that Homiletic and Pastoral Review article. But I might have missed something. So if you know of other models that integrate these four dimensions of of formation — human, spiritual, the intellectual and the pastoral — please email them to me, give me links. crisis@soulsandhearts.com. I need to know about them. But what we do have in those church documents are a number of statements about the relationships among the four dimensions.

[00:13:15] We have guidance about the interconnectedness of the four dimensions of formation. And what we can and should do is take hold of that guidance, right, that direction in the creation of our model. So I’m going to be drawing inspiration and direction from four main church documents. The first one, you know I’ve talked about it a lot, is Saint John Paul II 1992 Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. “I will give you shepherds”. That’s a central document. I will refer to it, but sometimes by its initials PDV, PDV for Pastores Dabo Vobis. Secondly is the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s 2016 document Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, or the Gift of the Priestly Vocation. This document provides revised guidelines on the proper formation of seminarians, to be followed by seminaries throughout the world. Third is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations 2022 book, The Program for Priestly Formation, sixth edition. I will refer to this document often as the PPF6, Program for Priestly Formation, sixth edition. According to the USCCB’s website, “The PPF6 sets forth the nature and mission of the ministerial priesthood, norms for the admission and formation of candidates, and norms for the governance and administration of seminaries. It’s a critical document. It’s where a lot of the ideas that the bishops have are most completely fleshed out.

[00:15:02] And then finally the USCCB’s 2005 document titled Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry. And this document is really important because, unlike the other three, it’s targeted towards, it’s oriented toward, lay people. I really wanted to include that. So an example of these church statements about the relationships among the four dimensions, the guidance about that interconnectedness I was talking about, is given in the PPF6, paragraph 116. Paragraph 116 of the PPF6 reads, “Through human formation, the foundation is laid upon which the other dimensions can be received and lived. Through spiritual formation, the seminarian learns to bring everything from the other dimensions into his relationship with Jesus Christ. Through intellectual formation, he comes to a deeper understanding of the truths of the faith and the human person, enriching his relationship with God, his understanding of himself, and his service to others. Through pastoral formation, he learns how to express the other three in pastoral charity, the overall goal of priestly formation. It is through the integration of all four dimensions that the seminarian comes to affective maturity and freedom needed for priestly service.” So you can see there’s very clear interconnections that the bishops are giving us based off of Pastores Dabo Vobis. And as a faithful son of the church, I want to stay right in the center, right in the heart of the church, in creating this model. I want to stay right in the middle of the path that our church has laid out for us.

[00:16:53] All right. We’re going to switch gears. Mathematics has fascinated me since I was little. My father was a high school mathematics teacher, and he taught me a lot about math before I even started grade school. I had an advantage over my classmates, and as I was thinking about what kind of model might be able to integrate the four dimensions of formation, a mathematical model slowly unfolded before me. What was I trying to do? I was trying to bring structure and order to these four dimensions human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation and pastoral formation. I was looking for some way to describe the relationships in this process of integrating the four dimensions. And what is mathematics? Many of us think we recognize what math is when we see it, but how many of us really have a formal definition of mathematics? Here’s the definition of mathematics from britannica.com: “Mathematics is the science of structure, order and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects.” All right. So what do we have here? Mathematics is the science of structure, order and relation. Structure, order and relation. That’s what I needed, right? Now, don’t worry, you do not need to know much math to follow this podcast. I thought this quote from NPR commentator Cokie Roberts was really funny. She said, “As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school.”

[00:18:54] Now, you might get that a little quicker if you struggled with algebra. If you breezed through it, that might not have resonated as funny right away, but I will be defining and explaining as we go along so that any parts of you that might be activated by math, that might be flashing back to your school days, to math headaches, or even math test terrors, those parts can rest easy. Stan Gudder said that “the essence of math is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.” Galileo Galilei said, “The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics.” And William Paul Thurston said, “Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms. It is about understanding.” And that’s what we’re seeking to do with this mathematical model. That’s what we’re seeking to do with this mathematical lens that we’re bringing to the four dimensions, that we’re bringing to the guidance in the church documents to help us be able to more readily understand how these four dimensions work together, how do they form a unity yet retain a distinctiveness that allows us to better engage in our own formation and help others engage in their formation. Mathematics is our overarching unifying principle. The different branches of mathematics will provide the distinctions for the four dimensions of formation — human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. So there’s a unity and a multiplicity in the mathematical model representing formation in a given person.

[00:20:44] Now, as Matthew Walz and I discussed in episode 133, the order in which Saint John Paul II laid out the four dimensions is important. He led off with human formation. So let’s start building our model with human formation. What do we know from the church documents about the relationship of human formation to the other three dimensions? PDV, paragraph 43, St. John Paul II says, “The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation.” The whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation. Okay, so it’s telling us human formation is foundational, right. The others rest on this foundation of human formation. Human formation is by far the newest dimension of the different domains of formation. And Pope Saint John Paul II included it for the very first time in Pastores Dabo Vobis, and as Father Robert Anello in his article, “In the Beginning Were the Bells: The Development of Human Formation for Priests” in Seminary Journal from Winter of 2013, which was actually then published in 2017, said, “Along with its spiritual, intellectual and pastoral counterparts, human formation is now an established pillar of priestly formation. Yet an in an institution such as the Catholic Church, which views development in terms of centuries and millennia, human formation is in its infancy.” All right. So according to the PPF6, they provide this definition.

[00:22:46] “Following Saint Thomas Aquinas, human formation should be understood as education in the human virtues perfected by charity.” Okay. I mean, for a lot of us, that would require an understanding of Saint Thomas’s very broad definition of education in the human virtues that might not be immediately accessible. This definition was given by Cameron Thompson in his 2014 Handbook of Human Formation: A Resource for the Cultivation of Character. He said “human formation aims at the perfecting of the natural human qualities as the ‘raw material’ for sanctity. It is the process of attaining the highest and best of one’s human nature, and the fulfillment of that human nature as it is instantiated in this or that particular person.” Human formation aims at perfecting the raw material. The matter. Right. So that goes back to Matthew Walz and his four causes, right, the material cause, human formation. Grace perfects nature, Saint Thomas tells us, it does not destroy it. Grace needs that raw human matter, our raw human matter, in order to have something to act. So now I want to play a little clip by Catholic coach Matt Ingold. He’s the co-founder of Metanoia Catholic. He’s the co-host of the Catholic Coaching Podcast, and this is from his episode 113 of the Catholic Coaching Podcast called The Catholic Coaching Community. I have permission to play this clip. It’s about 80s long, and so I want you to be able to listen to that.

  • Matt Ingold: [00:24:38] Spoken recently in a podcast, what is that human formation? That human formation is really the foundation on which the edifice of the spiritual and the intellectual formation lands, right? It’s the tilling of the — and we use that that analogy often from the parable of the sower and the seed — it’s the tilling of the soil. It’s disposing the soil to receive the seed that’s in the intellectual formation so that it can actually be open to germinate, right. If we don’t have that human formation element in place, there’s nowhere for that intellectual formation to land. And right now, I look at some of the formation programs that we have in our church. And it looks… it’s almost as if we’re not forming humans, but we’re forming angels. We’re forming people that are these pure, as if the person is this pure intellectual being, like an angel. It’s like, no, this person has an intellect, but they also have a body. And that body also has emotions. And that body also has a mind that’s tied to a brain with synaptic connections and hormones and chemical messengers and like, has these desires and has this desire to be gift, like all of it falling to, like it all has to come together.

[00:25:54] We are not angels. We are flesh and blood. We are embodied beings. We need to take into account all of this messy, earthy humanness that we have, right. What do we know from the PPF6? “Through human formation, the foundation is laid which the other dimensions can be received and lived.” So, I am going to start our drawing. I am going to draw human formation as the foundation of this mathematics tower, this model that we are bringing into existence. So I’m going to draw this rectangle at the bottom that represents human formation, right. And I’m going to go ahead and label it human formation. There it is: human formation. And that’s our base we’re going to build out the other dimensions on this model as well in this kind of drawing. You can see I’m not a stellar artist here, but it’s okay. So here we see human formation as the base, the foundation. That’s straight out of Pastores Dabo Vobis, that is straight out of the PPF6, again relying on Pastores Dabo Vobis. And this is my definition of human formation. This is what I’ve come up with. And this is before the PPF6 had published their definition. My definition is: “Human formation is the lifelong process of natural development, aided by grace, by which a person integrates all aspects of his interior emotional, cognitive, relational and bodily life, all his natural faculties, in an ordered way, conformed with right reason and natural law, so that he is freed from natural impediments to trust God as his beloved child and to embrace God’s love. In return, because he possesses himself, he can flourish in loving God, neighbor, and himself with all of his natural being in an ordered, intimate, personal and mature way.” Now that was based off of my original definition in episode 63 of the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, “Human Formation: The Critical Missing Element. According to Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, “Effective formation methods address the whole person, emotions, imagination, will, heart and mind. It is the whole person who ministers, so the whole person is the proper subject of formation.” And from Ratio Fundamentalis, paragraph 94, “Human formation, being the foundation of all priestly formation, promotes the integral growth of the person and allows the integration of all its dimensions. Physically, this means an interest in health, nutrition, physical activity, and rest. Psychologically, it focuses on the constitution of a stable personality, characterized by emotional balance, self-control, and a well-integrated sexuality. In the moral sphere, it is connected to the requirement that the individual arrive gradually at a well formed conscience.” And Father Robert Anello in his article, “In the Beginning Were the Bells: The Development of Human Formation for Priests”, wrote, “The qualities to be fostered in a human formation program are freedom, openness, honesty, flexibility, empathy, joy and inner peace, generosity and justice, chastity, personal maturity, interpersonal skills, common sense, aptitude for ministry and growth in moral integrity and public witness.”

[00:30:09] So that’s giving you a flavor of what this foundation looks like. It’s the humanness of us, right. In human formation, we are working with the most basic human raw material in the body and in the heart, all the natural level stuff, right. So my summary of this is that we are seeing here the matter of human formation – our humanness, our internal experience, emotions, imagination, will, heart, mind, desires, impulses, intentions, attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, memories, relationality, sexuality, all of our natural faculties, all of our natural appetites, all of that most basic stuff that makes us human, makes us rational animals, as Saint Thomas said following Aristotle. All right. So we have all of that humanness. Let me see if I can represent that here, just all of that internal humanness. Let me draw a little guy here. All of the stuff that’s going on in our guy. All right. All that’s in the head. All that’s in the heart. Human formation. All right. So and what branch of mathematics is the best to parallel human formation? What branch of mathematics is so foundational? What branch of mathematics does all other branches of mathematics depend on? Well, I think of this as coming from arithmetic. Let’s think about arithmetic here for a little bit, all right, that we could be considering human formation as analogous to arithmetic. Well, what is arithmetic? Again, we may think we know what it is, but let’s get a formal definition from britannica.com.

[00:32:19] Arithmetic: a branch of mathematics in which numbers, relations among numbers, and observations on numbers are studied and used to solve problems. Arithmetic, a terms derived from the Greek word arithmos or number, refers generally to the elementary aspects of the theory of numbers, the arts of mensuration, or measurement, and numerical computation, that is, the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I’m going to draw those arithmetic operators in there. Right. That’s the the core of arithmetic. It’s how we work with these different numbers. Arithmetic is the starting point. It’s the basis of all mathematics. All other fields of mathematics depend on arithmetic. They need arithmetic. They need that most basic math. And arithmetic is the most elementary of all the domains or branches of mathematics. And that makes sense, right? We learn to identify numbers and count. And then the next step is arithmetic. That usually starts somewhere around ages 5 to 7. It can happen even before the development of reason, before we possess reason. All right. And so we need to have these arithmetic operations. And I’m going to actually draw in a little bit of math here because I want to put in some particular formulas here. So three times three equals nine and four times four equals 16 and nine plus 16 equals 25. Okay. So we we’ve got some basic arithmetic operations going on here.

[00:34:16] Nine plus 16 equals 25. And those are not just random. I’m going to come back to those. Those were deliberately chosen. They’ll have more meaning down the road. So what are we doing with our arithmetic in human formation? What are we working on according to the church? Well, the goal of human formation — this is from Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, page 36: “Human formation seeks to develop the lay ecclesial minister’s human qualities and character, fostering a healthy and well balanced personality for the sake of both personal growth and ministerial service.” Okay, a healthy and well balanced personality in the natural realm. And we’re not talking about the spiritual stuff here. We’re talking about the raw human material. The PPF6 gets more specific: “The qualities to be fostered in a human formation program are freedom, openness, honesty, flexibility, empathy, joy, inner peace, generosity, justice, chastity, personal maturity, interpersonal skills, common sense, aptitude for ministry, and growth and moral integrity in public witness.” It was basically the same list that we had from Father Anello. But let’s talk about the process of human formation. And this is a beautiful passage. This is my favorite passage in all of the PPF6, where it says, “In general, human formation happens in a three-fold process of self knowledge, self possession, and self gift. And all of this in faith. As this process unfolds, the human person becomes more perfectly conformed to the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ, the word made flesh.”

[00:36:14] Jesus is our model for being human. Not just our model for being spiritual, not just our model for being intellectual. Not our model just for being pastoral. Jesus is our model for being human. This is the Christological dimension of human formation — Jesus as true man, as a real human being. All right. So going back to our mathematical model, human formation is represented at the base at the foundation as arithmetic. So where do we go from here? What should this next block be? Right, this block here up on the right. Now this is more like a square, right. So it’s taking up half the space on top of the rectangular foundation, right. Which dimension of human formation should be next in our mathematical tower? We know that human formation can’t exist by itself in a vacuum. Mark Hellinger, in his article in Today’s Catholic, titled “Human Formation and Becoming a Bridge”, says this: “Human formation is not an end in itself. It is the foundation of a well formed priest and a well formed Christian. Jesus did not become human to keep us in our sin. Rather, he became human to bring us out of our sin. Therefore, for the priest and for the Christian, we must become human so as to draw ourselves and others toward God. Without this understanding, human formation really has no clear point.

[00:37:55] There would be no movement toward God, and that would not make any sense.” Right. So human formation is a good but it’s not an end in itself. We’re working on our human formation. We’re working on becoming human. Where does our journey of formation lead to next? What’s the next block? Right. On one hand, it’s all three of these other dimensions, and I’m going to kind of draw that in even before I label them, right. I’m going to kind of draw in how human formation kind of connects to these others, right. We know that it connects to all of these. So I’m just going to kind of draw these arrows here to all the other blocks, even though we haven’t identified which of those blocks are which yet. But the PPF6 says, “It is both possible and necessary to integrate human formation with the other three dimensions of formation — the spiritual, the intellectual and the pastoral. Human formation is integrated with spiritual formation by the Incarnate Word, and by the fact that grace builds on nature and perfects nature. Human formation is integrated with intellectual formation by the cultivation of the human functions of perception, analysis, and judgment. It also contributes to intellectual formation by enabling seminarians to pursue theology as a response to the questions of the human condition. Human formation is integrated with pastoral formation, which enables a priest to connect with and care for others with his human personality.”

[00:39:34] All right. So now we have those connecting arrows. We have those other two blocks. But is there a particular dimension of formation that we should be looking to next? We have a hint in the original order that Saint John Paul II put out the four dimensions. He put human formation first, spiritual formation second, intellectual formation third, and pastoral formation last. But do we have more evidence than that from the church documents that lead us to consider spiritual formation next? Well, we do. From Saint John Paul himself in PDV 45 he says “Human formation when it is carried out in the context of an anthropology which is open to the full truth regarding the human person leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation.” But do we have even more evidence, right? Well, in the PPF6 paragraph 225, it reads, “For every Christian…” Right, this isn’t just priests. “For every Christian human formation leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation. Human formation continues in conjunction with and in coordination with the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions of formation.” But we need to look at spiritual formation next. So I’m going to go ahead and write that in — spiritual formation — on the block to the right above human formation. Let’s actually learn about spiritual formation. Ratio Fundamentalis, paragraph 101 says, “Spiritual formation is directed at nourishing and sustaining communion with God and with our brothers and sisters in the friendship of Jesus, the good Shepherd, and with an attitude of docility to the Holy Spirit.

[00:41:30] The intimate relationship forms the heart of the seminarian in that generous and sacrificial love that marks the beginning of pastoral charity.” You can see that integrative language in Ratio Fundamentalis. This is about being with God. This is about being with the three persons of the Trinity, spiritual formation is — a personal relationship. And we see a hint of how spiritual formation will be connected with the pastoral dimension. PPF6, paragraph 231: “Spiritual formation needs to be integrated with the other three dimensions of formation: the human, the intellectual and the pastoral. The necessary growth in the theological and moral virtues involves both nature and grace. The necessary integration takes place when spiritual directors and priest formators work from a common vision of the relationship between grace and virtue. Spiritual formation also requires that the seminarian have a strong relational capacity. In other words, the seminarian must be able to enter into significant, even deep relationships with other persons and with God, since he is to be a ‘man of communion’.” Both nature and grace are required. We need both the human formation, the arithmetic, and the spiritual formation. Now. I noticed this very early on in my career as a psychologist. So often, whatever relationship difficulties clients of mine had with other people, they brought those same relational difficulties into their relationship with God, into their relationship with the three persons of the Trinity.

[00:43:13] They so often related with God in the same way that they related with other people. Each of us needs the basic relational skills in his or her human formation to be able to enter into that relationship with God. Right, that makes sense, right? The Program for Priestly Formation, sixth edition, paragraph 116 says, “Through spiritual formation, the seminarian learns to bring everything from the other dimensions into his relationship with Jesus Christ.” So spiritual formation helps us to connect directly with God, right. Directly with God. All of these other blocks, all of these other dimensions of human formation or dimensions of formation, I should say, they all feed into spiritual formation. They all contribute, right. We talked already about how human formation does, but it’s also these other ones that contribute. I’m actually going to draw some more arrows in here. All of these domains, all four of them contribute to spiritual formation in different ways. You have to be human to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with God the Father. That’s that human aspect of this. That’s that arrow that I drew here between human formation and spiritual formation, right. What are the goals of spiritual formation? Well, according to Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, the goal of spiritual formation is this: “The goal of spiritual formation aims to arouse and animate true hunger for holiness, a desire for union with the father through Christ in the Spirit, daily growing in love of God and neighbor in life and ministry, and the practices of prayer and spirituality that foster these attitudes and dispositions.

[00:45:20] It promotes and strengthens the fundamental conversion that places God and not oneself at the center of one’s life. Openness to this ongoing conversion is a prerequisite for fruitful spiritual formation.” So, there is this desire to have a living union with Christ. That is in prayer. Right, so I’m actually going to draw this, prayer. That’s how I draw prayer. Folded hands. What else? We’ve got spiritual formation is built on the Word of God, so I’m going to draw a Bible. Spiritual formation is also drawing from the sacraments, the Eucharist. I’ll draw that. And with penance, right. So how am I going to draw penance? I’m going to use the international symbol for penance. The international symbol for penance is this, like little shining green light. All right. So spiritual formation involves all of those things. And also the liturgy of the hours, an awareness of sin, a spirituality for suffering, a Marian spirituality — I really liked it that the bishops in this document, Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, included a Marian spirituality — love for the church, devotion to the Eucharist, and an ecumenical spirit. Now, what branch of mathematics might we use in our model to capture the essence of spiritual formation and its relationship to the arithmetic of human formation? What would fit here? And I argue that what makes sense is algebra.

[00:47:06] Algebra makes sense right here to connect spiritual formation with human formation and the rest of the models as well. So how do we do that? Well, I’m going to go ahead and just write in algebra. And why algebra? Well, let’s get into that. What is going on there? Let’s look at definitions. Right, John Ray says that algebra is the metaphysics of arithmetic. Algebra is the metaphysics of arithmetic, but a more formal definition. I kind of like that John Rae’s definition because it’s pretty poetical, but a definition from Britannica.com says algebra is “the branch of mathematics in which arithmetical operations and formal manipulations are applied to abstract symbols rather than specific numbers.” Now, if we look here on arithmetic, we had three times three equals nine, very specific numbers, whole numbers right there. Four times four equals 16 nine plus 16 equals 25. But in algebra we are bringing in abstract symbols. We’re bringing in variables, right. So I’m going to include something here like the letter A squared. And I’m going to bring in the letter B squared. Those are variables now, they’re abstractions, right? They’re not a specific number. That seemed like we were somehow upping our game into another dimension, another domain. We were moving from the mundane of human formation and the arithmetic into something much bigger, right. So that sort of had that sense to me.

[00:48:49] If you don’t resonate with that, that’s okay, you know, I’m not going to be offended. In arithmetic there are no variables, there are no symbols, there are just numbers and operators. It’s the pure natural world, nothing mysterious about it. But in algebra, we bring in these abstract symbols. Now all of a sudden there’s mystery and unknowns in a different way, right. We can use exponents now like I did with these squares, right. And everything in arithmetic is elevated in algebra, generalized to variables, lifted up from the mundane world of concrete numbers. When we remember our algebra, we’re able to take this arithmetic and bring it to where we can now — using our human formation arithmetic — we can now enter into this algebra, the spiritual algebra with our Lord and the three persons of the Trinity, and with Our Lady and the other saints. Okay, so where do we go next though, right? Pope Saint John Paul II lists intellectual formation third. But is that enough? Well, let’s hear from Saint Bonaventure, who said, “Let no one think that it is enough for him to read if he lacks devotion, or to engage in speculations without spiritual joy, or to be active if he has no piety, or to have knowledge without charity, or intelligence without humility, or study without God’s grace, or to expect to know himself if he is lacking the infused wisdom of God.”

[00:50:17] The PDV, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Saint John Paul II in paragraph 51 says that “intellectual formation has its own characteristics, but it is also deeply connected with, and indeed can be seen as a necessary expression of both human and spiritual formation. It is a fundamental demand of the human intelligence by which one participates in the light of God’s mind, and seeks to acquire a wisdom which in turn opens to and is directed toward knowing and adhering to God.” And here’s where Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis, paragraph 51 quotes Instrumentum Laboris: “To be pastorally effective, intellectual formation is to be integrated with a spirituality marked by a personal experience of God. In this way, a purely abstract approach to knowledge is overcome in favor of the intelligence of the heart, which knows how to look beyond, and then is in a position to communicate the mystery of God to the people.” So there we have the hint of pastoral formation coming in right at the end. But without being animated by a relationship with God, our intellectual formation is going to be dry. It’s going to be more than dry. It’s going to be distorted. You cannot understand God anything like accurately without experiencing God as He is. Ratio Fundamentalis, paragraph 116 says “Intellectual formation is aimed at achieving for seminarians a solid competence in philosophy and theology, along with a more general educational preparation, enough to allow them to proclaim the Gospel message to the people of our own day in a way that is credible and can be understood.

[00:52:16] It seeks to enable them to enter into fruitful dialog with the contemporary world, to uphold the truth of the faith by light of reason, thereby revealing its beauty.” And the PPF6 in paragraph 116 says, “Through intellectual formation, he comes to a deeper understanding of the truths of the faith and the human person, enriching his relationship with God, his understanding of himself, and his service to others. So I’m actually going to go ahead now and write in, in this next block, right, the square that’s on the left in our tower, it’s on the left, it’s next to spiritual formation, on top of human formation. And that is going to be our intellectual formation. It’s the third of the domains. And it’s got this intimate relationship — so this arrow between two, I’m going to make it two headed, right. It’s bidirectional. It goes both ways. Intellectual formation. Ratio Fundamentalis, paragraph 117, “Intellectual formation is part of the integral formation of the priest. Moreover, it serves his pastoral ministry and has an impact on his human and spiritual formation, which draws rich nourishment from it.” These are all integrated. This is the point, right? You see that all three of these now — spiritual formation, intellectual formation on top of the human formation, all of that is supporting pastoral formation. But before we get there, let’s look at the goals of intellectual formation from Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, pages 42 to 43.

[00:53:54] “Goal. Intellectual formation seeks to develop the lay ecclesial minister’s understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith, which is rooted in God’s revelation and embodied in the living tradition of the church. It consists chiefly of study of the sacred sciences, but draws also upon a wide range of other disciplines, philosophy, literature and the arts, psychology…” Glad to see that one got included. “…sociology, counseling, medical ethics, culture and language studies, business administration, leadership and organizational development, law, and so on. While the sacred sciences are the main focus here…” We want to remember that, “…we recognize the value of these other disciplines and encourage their study and use whenever relevant for effective ministry.” Elements of intellectual formation, according to Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord: Scripture and its interpretation, dogmatic theology, church history, liturgical and sacramental theology, moral theology and Catholic social teaching, pastoral theology, spirituality, and canon law. All right, so what branch of mathematics can we find that draws from both algebra and arithmetic? What branch of mathematics depends on both? What do you think? Well, I’m going to argue that it is geometry. Let’s talk about geometry and why geometry is associated with intellectual formation. Why have geometry represents intellectual formation in our model, our tower of formation? Well, let’s start with the definition again. From britannica.com: “Geometry: the branch of mathematics concerned with the shape of individual objects, spatial relationships among various objects, and the properties of surrounding space.

[00:55:57] It is one of the oldest branches of mathematics, having arisen in response to such practical problems as those found in surveying, and its name is derived from the Greek words meaning earth measurement, “geo,” earth, “metri,” comes from metric, to measure, to measure the Earth. I see this intellectual formation as a way of making sense of the world around us, surveying the scene, if you will, taking the measure of ideas and thoughts and propositions. That’s what resonated with me about geometry representing intellectual formation. And geometry depends on algebra, just like intellectual formation depends on spiritual formation. We brought this quote up in the last episode because Matthew Walz, he had it listed as his favorite quote. It’s from Saint Anselm in his Proslogion, where Saint Anselm said, “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.” This quote is believed to be based on a sentence from Saint Augustine who said, “Crede ut intelligas”, right? Believe so that you may understand. And there is a sense of complementarity between algebra and geometry. And that was brought out in this quote by the late 18th and early 19th century Italian mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Joseph Louis Lagrange. Joseph Louis Lagrange said, “As long as algebra and geometry have been separated, their progress has been slow and their use is limited.

[00:58:00] But when these two sciences have been united, they have lent each mutual forces and marched together towards perfection.” What Joseph Louis Lagrange, the mathematician from the late 18th and early 19th century, was saying, is that there is an inseparable complementarity between algebra and geometry, just like there is between intellectual formation and spiritual formation. And this is what Pope Pius the 10th was really concerned about at the turn of the 19th century, as we got into the 20th century with the rise of modernism, with the rise of historical, critical evaluations of Scripture, where we were using modern technologies, modern sciences, but without belief, without grounding our investigations into the sacred in an experience of the sacred. Right, looking at it as some sort of impartial observer from the outside, or sort of. This is what really drove him to write so many of the encyclicals that he did to combat modernism 125 years ago. And that has marched on. So we need to recapture the wonder, the awe, the experience of direct relatedness in spiritual formation. We need that algebra to inform our geometry. There’s a reciprocal relationship. In Pastores Dabo Vobis, Saint John Paul II says that “intellectual formation in theology and formation in the spiritual life, in particular the life of prayer, meet and strengthen each other without detracting in any way from the soundness of research or from the spiritual tenor of prayer.”

[00:59:55] And the PPF6 in paragraph 261 says “There is a reciprocal relationship between spiritual and intellectual formation. The intellectual life nourishes the spiritual life, but the spiritual also opens vistas of understanding in accordance with the classical adage, ‘credo ut intelligam’, I believe in order to understand. Intellectual formation is integral to what it means to be human.” All right. And so we can kind of see this, right. Now I’m going to bring in something to our diagram, right. So we have this a-squared and b-squared in the algebra. But in the geometry, I’m going to go back and I’m now going to write the Pythagorean theorem. Some of you may remember this — that a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared. Right, so if you have a right triangle where the hypotenuse which is across from the right angle is labeled C, this is A over here. And down here is B. C-squared equals a-squared plus b-squared. That’s algebra. That’s algebra. You can’t figure out C, which is the square root of A-squared plus B-squared without your algebra, right? So here we see spiritual formation and intellectual formation represented by algebra and geometry, respectively, coming together, right, with that right triangle. So, both of those — the algebra and the geometry — require the correct arithmetic, right? So if this right triangle, if we say that A equals three and B equals four, we go back to this, A-squared. A equals three, three times three equals nine, right?

[01:01:50] That’s down in our human formation arithmetic. B-squared — four times four equals 16, got to have the arithmetic right, got to have the algebra right. And then we find that that equals 25. And if we take the square root of 25, we get C, right. We learn, we rediscover that this is a three, four, five right triangle. So you see, how these are all interconnected mathematically. And I think that’s pretty cool. I geek out on stuff like that. You might not think so. If you don’t think so, that’s okay. We’ve got other models coming your way. All right. So what does that leave us with? By process of elimination this top piece here, the one that covers and rests upon spiritual formation and intellectual formation, which are resting on the foundation of human formation — that’s got to be pastoral formation. So I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to write that in, “pastoral formation,” here at the top. All right, but it’s not good enough to just say, well, it’s what’s left over, so I guess it has to go up there. Not good enough to just say that. Let’s actually get into this a little bit more deeply. Let’s go back to the church documents. What do we learn? Pope John Paul II,

[01:03:11] Pastores Dabo Vobis, paragraph 57: “The Council text insists upon the coordination of the different aspects of human, spiritual and intellectual formation. At the same time, it stresses that they are all directed to a specific pastoral end. The pastoral aim ensures that the human, spiritual, and intellectual formation has certain precise content and characteristics. It also unifies and gives specificity to the whole formation of future priests.” So there’s a progression here, a progression toward the complete giving of oneself as a shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, following the good Shepherd, imitating Christ himself. The PPF6 ni paragraph 366 says, “All four dimensions of formation are interwoven and go forward concurrently. Still, in a certain sense, pastoral formation is the culmination of the entire formation process.” The culmination of the entire formation process. And that’s why we have this block on top of our tower. It’s the capstone, right? It holds the entire structure together. That’s why we put pastoral formation at the top. Now the PPF6 in paragraph 372 says, “Clearly, pastoral formation not only connects with the other three dimensions of priestly formation, but in itself provides a goal that integrates the other dimensions. Human formation enables priests to be bridges to communicate Jesus Christ, a pastoral function. Spiritual formation enables priests to persevere and gives depth to their ministry. Intellectual formation provides criteria and content to ensure that pastoral efforts are directed correctly, properly, and effectively.”

[01:05:14] “Through pastoral formation he learns how to express the other three in pastoral charity, the overall goal of priestly formation.” Now it’s important. According to the PPF6, “It is important that spiritual formation is integrated with the other three dimensions of formation, such that all formation allows the future priests to embrace pastoral charity as central to his ministry. Human, intellectual, and pastoral formation are equally indispensable in developing the seminarian’s relationship and communion with God and his ability to communicate to others in pastoral charity, God’s truth and love, in the likeness of Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd and Eternal High Priest.” Okay, so let’s get down a little bit more brass tacks here. What are the goals of pastoral formation? The goals. According to Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord, the 2005 document from the USCCB, “Pastoral formation cultivates the knowledge, attitudes and skills that directly pertain to effective functioning in the ministry setting and that also pertain to pastoral administration that supports direct ministry.” The elements of pastoral formation, according to Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord: methods for providing formation to others, leading of community prayer and preaching, pastoral ministry skills, family mission and family perspective, effective relationship and communication skills, collaboration, discernment of the signs of the times, gift discernment and volunteer ministry management, change and conflict management skills, basic counseling skills, culture and language skills, administration skills, leadership and organizational development, applicable civil law, and ministerial code of ethics.

[01:07:09] Okay, so here’s where the priest, according to Pastores Dabo Vobis, or just the Christian, the Catholic, is getting outside of himself or getting outside of herself, looking outward to one’s neighbor. Now what branch of mathematics looks outside of itself? What branch of mathematics looks to other sciences, looks to other disciplines as its object, right, as its focus? I’m going to argue that it is the branch of mathematics known as applied mathematics. Now, this is the definition from Northwestern University’s Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics. They say that “applied mathematics involves the application of mathematics to problems which arise in various areas, such as science, engineering or other diverse areas, and/or the development of new and improved methods to meet the challenges of new problems. We view applied math as the application of mathematics to real world problems, with the dual goal of explaining observed phenomenon and predicting new, as yet unobserved phenomenon. Therefore, the emphasis is both the mathematics, that is, the development of new methods to meet the challenges of new problems and the real world. The problems come from various applications such as physical and biological sciences, engineering, and the social sciences. The solutions require knowledge of the various branches of mathematics.” All right, that last statement is really important. The solution requires knowledge of the various branches of mathematics. Applied mathematics, which we’re associating with pastoral formation, demands that you know your algebra, demands that you know your geometry, demands that you know your arithmetic, to be able to get into medicine, to be able to get into psychology, to be able to get into economics or to whatever other branch or science or experience that’s needing this mathematical application.

[01:09:28] Wikipedia looks at these following fields as those that utilize applied mathematics: physics, engineering, medicine, biology, finance, business, computer science, industry. And the Nasdaq Financial Glossary says that “the study of the application of mathematical principles to domains outside of mathematics itself.” That’s what applied mathematics does. So it’s this mathematics turning outward, outside of itself, right? Connecting with other disciplines, completing this progression of the threefold process of self-knowledge, self-possession, and self-gift, right. Being able to connect with the others. And that’s why I look at applied mathematics as the branch of mathematics that we put up here to round out our tower. Applied mathematics. And now all of a sudden, what you’re seeing is that all of these areas, all of these arrows are bi-directional arrows. All of these different domains of formation impact each other in reciprocal ways. Every one of them connects with every other one of them in this really important way. All right. So that completes our drawing. But it doesn’t complete our learning because I want to get into an example. I want to tell you a story. I want to tell you a story that helps to illuminate how this mathematical model or this lens can help us to understand what’s going on at a parish.

[01:11:18] So I’m going to introduce you to Sally. And Sally is an adult RCIA teacher in a parish who was known for her high levels of energy, her enthusiasm, her warm openness to those inquiring about the Catholic faith. So many of these individuals that were interested in joining the church described how Sally, the RCIA teacher, really listened to them and they felt seen and heard and understood. There was an openness in the RCIA class to hear doubts about the faith, to raise serious theological and spiritual questions. There was this spirit of openness, of inquiry. And in the RCIA section on prayer, Sally has been expounding repeatedly about how God is a mother to us all. Following some of the writings of Julian of Norwich and the thinking of feminist theologian Sallie McFague, this teacher, Sally, has been emphasizing how maternal images of God are more likely to draw modern men and women into the church. Sally described how God in Scripture takes on the lifelong role of a mother in Isaiah 46, verses 3 to 4, which reads “Hearken to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been born by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you I have made, and I will bear, I will carry, and I will save.

[01:12:54] Sally described God’s “motherhood” in Isaiah 66:13, where the Lord tells Jerusalem, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you. You shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Well, Sally caused some consternation in her RCIA class by leading the class in a public recitation of the Our Mother prayer, the Our Mother prayer, where she substituted mother for father. This caused some scandal among the students who, finding Sally pretty intransigent on this point, brought it up with the pastor. The pastor was newly assigned to the parish, was just getting his bearings, only been there a couple of weeks, hadn’t really gotten to know all the staff yet. All right, so let’s look at this situation through our mathematical model of formation. We could look at the complaints of those in the RCIA program about Sally’s bringing in the Our Mother prayer as reflecting a problem with Sally’s pastoral formation. She is not forming the students properly, she is failing in the applied mathematics, the transmission of faith and the formation of others. Right? The way she’s doing this has gotten misguided. Okay, now that makes sense. Maybe that’s where the intervention should happen, at the level of pastoral formation. But that’s not what our pastor thought. Mm. Let’s consider another possibility. This is at the level of the geometry, how Sally measured theology, how she measured the nature of God in her intellect.

[01:14:40] She found that the traditional image of God as Father was wanting when she weighed it in the balance of her intellectual formation, when she ran the geometry on that, when she measured that idea. Okay, so maybe, maybe the intervention has to happen at the level of the intellectual formation, right? As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in the Ratzinger report, “Christianity is not a philosophical speculation. It is not a construction of our mind. Christianity is not our work. It is a revelation. It is a message that has been consigned to us, and we have no right to reconstruct it as we like or choose. Consequently, we are not authorized to change the Our Father into an Our Mother. The symbolism employed by Jesus is irreversible. It is based on the same Man-God relationship he came to reveal to us.” All right. Sally’s explanation of how Jesus’s understanding of God in his humanity would have been historically conditioned, subject to the prevailing ideas of Jesus’s misogynistic, sexist culture which suppressed the dignity of women and glorified men, reflecting a gross misunderstanding of Catholic Christology. Just really misunderstanding Jesus there, the geometry she was using to measure Jesus was way off with this, because that’s how she dismissed calling God our Father. Jesus had this culturally conditioned experience in his humanity, right? You know, this problem in her geometry is going to mess up her applied mathematics when she’s doing the pastoral formation of her RCIA class, right. So perhaps what’s called for is some sort of intervention at the level of her intellectual formation.

[01:16:29] She needed better catechesis. She needed better scripture studies. She needed to understand what the ancient church fathers and church mothers had to say about the matter, what the tradition of our church was on this. But Sally’s pastor, he didn’t think so. Hmm. Instead, in a spirit of openness and curiosity, the pastor asked Sally about her relationship with God the Father. He’s getting it now into the spiritual formation of Sally. And out came Sally’s spiritual story. She had never, ever been able to pray to God as Father. She’d never even seriously considered it. It just didn’t seem “relevant” to her. God did not have a gender, you know. But interestingly, she didn’t seem to have much of a connection with Jesus as well. She did report a significant connection to the Holy Spirit that’s been going back years, decades, when she encountered the Holy Spirit through her connection with some charismatic friends. But God as Father in her personal prayer life no traction there, right. She prayed to God as Mother. That was much more satisfying to her. All right, so we figured it out, right? We understand what’s going on. The root of the problem of this applied mathematics distortion of her pastoral formation, it wasn’t in the geometry of her intellectual formation so much as the problems in the algebra of her spiritual formation.

[01:18:05] That’s where we need to intervene, right? But wait. There’s more. I think you knew this was coming, right? Right. But the pastor was curious about Sally’s relationship with her earthly father. And in this surprising torrent, out poured a story of neglect by her dad, who deserted the family when she was four. The abandonment wound, the father wounds had never been healed and it poisoned father images for Sally in the natural realm. She never connected with father-like figures in her life. There were no family members that took on a father-like role. Parts of her were not trusting that if she trusted a father figure, she wouldn’t be betrayed again, she wouldn’t be abandoned again. Parts of her desperately wanted to believe in God, but God as father was just too toxic of an image for her unhealed parts to bear. God as mother allowed her to have a sense of the possibility of being parented by God. All right, all of that is happening in her human formation, or perhaps better put, in her human deformation. The difficulties she was having in praying to God the Father were really spiritual consequences of unresolved father wounds in her natural formation. She could not do the spiritual formation algebra of relating with God as Father, because the human formation arithmetic was telling her that seven times eight is 54. Things were not adding up, and she couldn’t do the intellectual formation geometry because both her spiritual formation algebra and her human formation arithmetic were not sound, they were not well grounded.

[01:20:03] And because all three of these were warped in this particular area of God as Father, her pastoral formation, applied mathematics, was way off in teaching to her RCIA class. So just kind of wanted to walk you through that story, of a way of looking at these different domains as mathematical lenses, right, of different mathematical disciplines. All right. So let’s talk about the limitations of this mathematical model. Every model has limitations. And one main limitation is that if you are really good at algebra, you can assume that you’re going to be good at arithmetic. There’s a lot of precision in math that’s not really reflected in the messiness of formation. So I think that’s a limitation. And this model may also give you the impression that if you’re really good in one area, say, the geometry of intellectual formation, then you would also be good in the areas of the algebra of spiritual formation and the arithmetic of human formation. And that could be untrue. That doesn’t have to be true at all. That could be quite false. The model does explain why so many people experience so much spiritual growth in the Resilient Catholics Community, even though our focus in the RCC is primarily on the arithmetic of human formation. So how does that happen? Well, if you get so much better at the human formation arithmetic, your spiritual algebra will improve.

[01:21:33] If you really learn that seven times eight is 56 and not 54, your algebra will get better by leaps and bounds because it’s got so much better inputs, right? That’s why I think so many of my clients have told me that I have helped them spiritually more than anyone else in their lives. They received spiritual formation elsewhere. Not from me. I don’t do spiritual formation in therapy. But now with the human formation arithmetic coming online and getting so much better, the algebra of their spiritual formation makes so much more sense. They’re able to tap into it in a much deeper and richer way. They’re able to utilize what they already have formed in them, but now, because the human formation inputs are getting so much cleaner, so much more ordered, so much better, so much healthier, their spiritual formation is taking off. The spiritual improvement that people in the RCC or that my clients experience — that does not allow me to leave my human formation lane and be some kind of authority in spiritual formation. Not at all. If I, impressed by the spiritual growth of my clients, the spiritual development of my clients, or by the RCC members, were to think that I am now qualified to accompany my clients or RCC members in spiritual formation, I would be guilty of what Matthew Walz defined as dimensional trespassing in our last episode.

[01:23:00] Episode 133. Dimensional trespassing is failing to respect the distinctive character of these four different dimensions of formation by suggesting to a person, for instance, that there are solutions according to one dimension for problems in a different dimension. The problems that were being resolved in the RCC or in my clients were in the human formation range. They were arithmetic problems. And when those got resolved, they helped out so much in the algebra and in the geometry and ultimately in the applied mathematics. Our RCIA teacher, Sally, needs to focus on the right dimensions. If the pastor had lectured her on the theological paternity of God the Father and assigned readings on this in the geometry of her intellectual formation, that would have harmed her. Or if he had prescribed a series of prayers to God the Father in her spiritual formation, right, to bring her closer to God in her spiritual formation algebra, he would have been missing the mark, right? Because those remedies were not oriented to the proper dimension, the human formation arithmetic, where the abandoning father wound still festered within Sally and screwed up her arithmetic. All right. So that brings to a close this exposition of this mathematical tower, the different relationships of the different dimensions of personal formation and how they connect to the different branches of mathematics. Now, next time in episode 135, I will be presenting another model of personal human formation, one I like even better in so many ways, so stay tuned for that.

[01:24:47] That will also be in video and audio formats. As I said, we focus on human formation here at Souls and Hearts, with some emphasis also on intellectual formation. And we do that in community. If you are a Catholic who holds that everything the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches is true, and you’re inspired to work on your own human formation, but not alone, not as a lone wolf, but in a community of other Catholics journeying together on a pilgrimage to flourishing in love — then check out our Resilient Catholics Community at soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Check that out. You can get on the waiting list for our June cohort. That is the Saint Gertrude the Great cohort. And you know, you can keep in touch with us through that whole process. I really hope that some of you will write reviews on Apple Podcasts or iTunes or wherever you can write those reviews. Those have really been helpful. So write me a review, leave me a rating. And also you can now leave a comment on YouTube, I think. We’ll set it up that way so that comments will be enabled for there to be a discussion about this on YouTube and possibly on Vimeo on our channels. That’s the Interior Integration for Catholics channel on YouTube.

[01:26:08] All right. I want to hear what you think. You can give me feedback, you know, not just there, but also during conversation hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. You can reach me at (317) 567-9594. That’s my personal cell phone number, (317) 567-9594, for a brief, you know, ten minutes, maybe 15 minutes. Personal conversations, individual, it’s not something that we live stream or anything like that. It’s not some sort of party line. It’s individual. And you can tell me what you think about these models. Also, check out what we’ve been up to in our State of Souls and Hearts weekly reflection from March 6th. You can find that at soulsandhearts.com/blog. That’s an update of everything we’ve been doing over the last year. It’s sort of followed the the state of the Union address from the president of the United States. So we got it out a day early though, so you can check out what we’ve been doing. Most importantly of all, please pray for us. We are onboarding so many new people into the RCC right now, into the Saint Francis Xavier cohort. Keep us in prayers. We’ve got a lot of growth happening in Souls and Hearts right now. We’re trying to manage that. And this whole endeavor is fueled by your prayer. And with that, we will wrap up by invoking our two patrons and our patroness. 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.