Formation for Spiritual transformation

The central chord that unifies all programs of Claretian formation is their orientation to lead the formee to progressive union and conformity with Christ, the evangelizer (GPF 12). It is the process of getting a “new heart and new spirit” (Ez. 18.31) whereby the spiritual transformation of the formee takes place. If we want to move from mere desire to deed, from spiritual ideals to credible living of Christian values, our formation has to take the process of spiritual transformation in a realistic manner.

“Spiritual transformation, from a Christian perspective, challenges the individual to live for the one true God rather than mere idols. The goal of Christian transformation is a commitment to unconditionally finding God’s will revealed in the person of Jesus, and his vision of the kingdom of God. Strategies for ongoing religious transformation include a regu­lar prayer life, fasting, spiritual reading, and almsgiving”. (Len Sperry).

Spiritual dimension of formation aims at the spiritual transformation of the formees. Lonergan uses the term “religious conversion” to mean the condition of being grasped by “ultimate concern” which is not an act but a “ dynamic state that is prior to and principle of subsequent acts.”[1]It happens when the Holy Spirit floods of the human heart with love which causes an “other-worldly falling in love”. In most cases religious conversion precedes intellectual and moral conversions. When the experience of God’s love fundamentally defines the identity of the person, he becomes a new creation and opens up to the newness of the Kingdom and a changed style of life.

For a Claretian formee his spiritual formation enables him to appropriate the “new name” personally and to create a community of brothers. “Because we are sons we are also brothers” (MFL 37).

Spiritual transformation is effected when the formee cooperates with the Holy Spirit disposing himself wholly to the action of the Spirit in him. On the part of the formee it calls for spiritual practices, cultivation of virtues and enabling self-capacities. Virtues are dispositions that develop a particular dimension while self capacities are abilities and skills that function as a requisite for a healthy development of self. Spiritual practices are activities that transform our habitual states of mind and awaken a new spiritual consciousness. Spiritual transformation needs to be supported by the practice of the virtues, self capacities and spiritual practices. Some concrete forms of it are proposed below[2]:

Virtues: Charity and holiness
is a freely given gift of God which unites us to God and enables us to curb our self-centered­ness and reach out to others.

Holiness enables one to mediate the presence of God in one’s environment.

Self capacities: Autonomy and self surrender

Autonomy is the capacity to regulate self-esteem and to be alone with minimal fear of abandonment or engulfment.

Self surrender is capacity to forego self-interests that are ob­stacles to being caring and compassionate.

Spiritual practices: Spiritual practices for awakening spiritual vision are:

  • meaningful celebration of sacraments and liturgy.
  • centering prayer,
  • meditation,
  • mantra,
  • community worship,
  • mindfulness in all activities such as eat­ing, walking, listening, and speech.

Ask yourself

How do you attend to your your spiritual life?
Which practices form part of your daily spiritual self-care?

How do the capacities of autonomy and self surrender support you as an authentic partner with God in your spiritual growth and commitment to the growth of your mission?

How do you see your spiritual growth in terms of the virtues of charity and holiness?

[1] Lonergan Bernard, Method in Theology, 2nd ed., University of Toronto Press, 1990, pp. p.240.

[2] Len Sperry presents a holistic picture of transformation which includes virtues, self capacities and spiritual practices in Transforming Self and community, chapter 6, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2002,

[3] Confessions (Lib. 10, 26. 37-29, 40: CSEL 33, 255-256).