Spiritual formation in the Catholic Christian tradition is a dynamic process of growth.
The word formation generally refers to a set of experiences designed to prepare a person or group for a particular purpose.
In preference to a word like training, formation is most often used in the context of spiritual development and conjures images of a deep learning that involves attitudes, values, commitment to particular life directions as well as knowledge and skills.
The word formation comes from the Latin, formare, meaning ‘to shape’ or ‘to mould’. We are all constantly being shaped and moulded by our circumstances and our surroundings, whether we are aware of it or not. When we talk of spiritual formation, we are talking about choosing what will shape and mould us, and to what we give our deepest energies!
To engage in spiritual formation is to practice seeing the reality beneath the reality of things! In this process, grounded in that reality, it is to learn how to integrate this meaning-making in one’s values and beliefs with one’s behaviour in daily life – both personally and professionally. The BCE approach to formation is a ‘head, heart and hands’ approach - one that is holistic, engaging the mind, the heart and leading to active change.
Catholic spiritual formation is about all these things in response to Jesus Christ who is seen as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the Holy Spirit acting through the community of Christ’s disciples (Church) in the context of the mission of Catholic education and the Catholic school in particular.
Engagement in Christian spiritual formation is to be concerned with the ongoing transformation of individuals and their communities. Christian spiritual formation is deeply personal and radically communal in its vision and praxis. While the shape of a spiritual life is, in the end, a matter of unique mystery between God and the individual person, spirituality in the Christian tradition is developed in the company of others. There is no such thing as a private Christian.
While the transformative vision of spiritual formation remains constant, the journeys to the place where the heart catches fire are as different and sacred as each individual. Our challenge and responsibility is to facilitate formation that allows the spark to catch; the flame to spread. It is the tending of this kind of fire that kindles Catholic Schools with Spirit.
CORE expectation within Catholic schooling
Spiritual formation of staff in Catholic schools is critical to the effective mission of Catholic schools:
The concrete living out of a vocation as rich and profound as that of the lay Catholic in a school requires an appropriate formation, both on the professional plane and on the religious plane. Most especially, it requires the educator to have a mature spiritual personality, expressed in a profound Christian life. (Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, n. 60)
The effective structuring and resourcing of spiritual formation that both supports this mission and responds to the contemporary contexts of people’s lives is a current and challenging issue for all Catholic education authorities around Australia.
Spiritual formation is about transformation in the context of lifelong learning and has intentional outcomes relating to the inner journey. Formation is a shared responsibility between the individual, school level leadership and Brisbane Catholic Education leadership, with key roles to play in expectation-setting, resourcing and support.
Design Principles for Spiritual Formation
Quotes on Spirituality