“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” – Acts 2:42
“This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
1 Timothy 2: 3-4
The goal of the Intellectual Pillar is to come to a knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Truth of Christ, and to be formed by this Truth. “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make Him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek Him, to know Him, to love Him with all his strength” (CCC 1).
The first question we ask ourselves is: How well do we understand the Truth? We are created to come to know the Truth. And, as Scripture reveals, this Truth is Christ Himself. The Intellectual Pillar challenges us as disciples to pursue knowledge of the Truth found in the riches of Scripture, Church doctrine, Church history, the lives of the saints, papal encyclicals, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The second question we ask ourselves is: How well do I live the Truth? As we come to know the Truth of Christ, we cannot help but be changed by it. Knowledge and understanding of the Truth, through humility, “sets us free” from our former ways of life and sin. We are challenged as disciples to “not act in compliance with the desires of [our] former ignorance”, but to allow God’s grace to change us that we may be made holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
John 15: 9-12
The Relational Pillar seeks to explore and understand our relationship with God, with one another, and how the two are inseparable.
Relational formation aims to foster a greater understanding of our call to divine intimacy and communion with the Trinity under the direction of the teaching of the Catholic Church, so that we may then understand how to live in communion with our brothers and sisters in the world.
Our relationships, by their very nature, give us our identity. Whether we realize it our not, we define ourselves by our relationships. For example: I am my mother’s daughter, the funny friend, the creative brother, the reliable coworker. Our identity is built by many different relationships, but the reality is, many of these relationships are broken or imperfect. As we build our identity from these imperfect relationships, it forms how we perceive and live out our most important relationship: with God. As we journey toward learning who God is and growing in relationship with Him, it is of paramount importance that we identify the areas of healing needed in our relationships with one another.
As we dive deeper into relationship with God, we learn to build our identity in Him first and foremost: as a precious and beloved son or daughter of God. As this relationship deepens, we are guided to deeper investment in His mission for our lives and the world. When we live out of the security of our identity in Him, our peace cannot be shaken. For God alone is constant and unchanging.
“Lord, teach us how to pray.”
The Spiritual Pillar strives to help its members grow in living a life of prayer through developing good habits and deepening their relationship with God. Prayer is the living relationship of God’s children with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit so the habit of prayer allows us to be in the presence of God and to live in communion with Him (CCC 2565).
As Catholics we are blessed with many traditions of prayer that help facilitate growing our relationship with God. Spiritual formation explores these different avenues, including praying with scripture, using the prayers of the Church such as the Liturgy of the Hours, and learning about other ways of prayer that help facilitate our relationship with God. These various traditions of prayer help us to create a sacred space for God in our hearts so we can hear Him more clearly.
Spiritual formation also helps us recognize the movements of the Holy Spirit in our lives and, particularly, in prayer. Through practicing prayer we are able to hear the Word of God more clearly and recognize the movements of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our lives. This recognition of God working in our lives deepens our relationship with God and helps us to more fully respond to our call to holiness and to God’s love for us. “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk 12: 30).
“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”
The Church teaches that the dignity of each human being in inextricably rooted in the reality that we are all lovingly created in the image of God (CCC 1700). The Human Pillar is intended to help us intentionally explore this identity and how we can participate more intimately in our relationship with the Lord by the way we live our daily lives.
Human Pillar formation works to help us develop a deeper understanding of the incarnational nature of human life in order to grow in holiness. We are living beings made of human flesh who are also imbued with immortal souls. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and vessels for those same souls (1 Cor. 3:16) . We use the Human Pillar to learn how each and every action we take affects the relationship between the body and Spirit, and how to live rightly ordered lives in order to better prepare ourselves to receive the manifold graces the Lord wants to pour into each of us.
Much of the Human Pillar focuses on the importance of human virtue in this process. Human virtues are stable dispositions that “govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life.” (CCC 1804). As we pour more effort into pursuing the good, we acquire the moral virtues more fully within us and are disposed more fully towards relationship with God.
Saint Josemaria Escriva once said, A Saint is just a sinner who keeps trying. For examples of those who have lived this reality most successfully and grown the most in human virtue, this Pillar devotes significant time to studying the lives of the Saints. The Catholic Church is the oldest religious institution on earth. Its 2000 year history provides a myriad of examples of people who rightly understood their identities as sons and daughters of God, have lived virtuously, and were shaped by God’s grace in such a way as to merit the reward of Heaven. This Pillar’s formation works to imitate their lifestyles and provide us inspiration to persevere in the battle to become who we are created to be.