The priest must 'live by the word.' But at the same time, he will try to be intellectually prepared to know the word in depth and to proclaim it effectively. In our day, marked as it is by a high degree of specialization in almost all areas of life, intellectual formation is extremely important. Such formation makes it possible to engage in a serious and creative dialogue with contemporary thought. Study of the humanities and of philosophy and a knowledge of theology are the paths to this intellectual formation, which then needs to be continued for the rest of one's life. In order to be authentically formative, study needs to be constantly accompanied by prayer, meditation, and the invocation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and the fear of the Lord. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains how, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a person's whole spiritual being becomes responsive to God's light, not only the light of knowledge but also the inspiration of love.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I found this tidbit, from Pope John Paul II's Gift and Mystery quite interesting. The book is an autobiographical reflection on his years as a priest as well as the nature of the priesthood. Here he's talking about the need for solid intellectual formation for priests (though I think it applies in a general way to those interested in engaging the culture):