|Abstract (english)|| |
In her doctoral dissertation, the authoress proceeds from the expressly real question of spirituality in its broadly human sense as well as in its narrow Christian sense. In its transition from the second and into the third millennium, the question of spirituality becomes one of the central interests for the contemporary man of various cultures, religions, geographic locations, including those who are agnostics or atheists. Conducive to the question, the newest scientific investigations and discoveries in the disciplines governing the natural, biomedical and humanistic sciences speak to the issue of indispensible urgency to study and develop the science governing man’s spirit as an integrative part of human beings. (E. Kandel, B. Lipton, D. Amen, E. Coerth, et. al.) When speaking of Christian spirituality, one must seek substantiation of that reality in the fact that through the flow of the past few centuries, spirituality was repressed to the very margins of life. The authoress of the dissertation does not deal with the hypothesis governing the motives of the contemporary renascence of spirituality; she, to the contrary, limits herself to stressing the fact that the question of spirituality has entered into the first plan, and that it has today become a part of consciousness to such an extent that it could be classified as a sign of the times which points to a true need for the world of today. Contemporary interest in spirituality firstly points to the imperative need to fundamentally contemplate the subject inasmuch as theology has neglected to engage the subject of spirituality for centuries. This new factual state of spirituality imposes upon theology the task of integrating spirituality into theological epistemology as one of its areas of specialization. It is important to stress the fact that at the impetus of the Second Vatican Council, as well as among Christians, the wish to return to the root sources of spirituality was begun. It is a question of new leavening which generated various spiritual expressions depending on the ambient wherein it was found. In this context, the words of Pope John Paul II are better understood when he states that the perspective of holiness must be placed within the pastoral journey of the entire Church (Novo millennio ineunte, 30). This turning point, which began at the impetus of the Pope, is of significant consequence to Christian life. Inasmuch as a person is vaccinated in Christ through Baptism, he becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and enters into the realm of Divine Holiness; hence, it is inconceivable that a baptized person could be satisfied with an average Christian life or a minimalistic ethic. This ideal of Christ, the Pope stresses, must not be erroneously understood, that is, in such a manner that we are speaking of some sort of extraordinary state of life which can only be lived by a few men of great holiness inasmuch as such paths are multifaceted and are a suitable path for everyman, including laymen catechists. The fundamental call for the catechist, be he a layman, a priest, or a religious priest or nun, is, before all else, based on the essence of what a Christian is and is shaped by the Holy Ghost in such a manner that his life, in its very essence, is signified by deep Christian spirituality. Inasmuch as a catechist is, first of all, a Christian, the dissertation poses the question as to whether or not the spirituality of the catechist has some specific point of reference. In the event the answer is positive, the logical question is further posited which asks whether or not this specificity of spirituality on the part of the catechist must be called to a particular service on behalf of the Church which he fulfills within society. For this reason, the fundamental question with which the dissertation deals is the dilemma as to how one can speak of a spirituality which is exclusively typical of catechists given the various forms and styles found in life. A large number of consulted authors are of the mind that a catechist can and must have a specific spirituality, as intimated by the very Canonic mandate on the basis of which the catechist carries out his specific service to the Church. This service comes to be realized through a gift from the Holy Ghost with whom the catechist is called to a lasting and open cooperation not only in his common Christian call but in his specific role as catechist. In this manner, and with right, one can and must speak of the spirituality of a Catechist which by its very function is his call to mission by the Church. The dissertation reflects a two-part structure. As is evident from its title, namely, The Theological—Catechetical Spiritual Foundation for the Lay Catechist, the first part concentrates on the theological—catechetical spiritual foundation of the lay catechist. Hence, the subject of investigation of the first chapter of the dissertation, namely, The Theological-Catechetical Starting Points, are the contemporary concepts of spirituality as based on its theological—catechetical foundations. When speaking of the concrete concept of spirituality, one must not lose sight of the fact that we differentiate spirituality as a lived or practiced reality, that is, an intellectual Christian life from that of spirituality as a scientific discipline used to investigate that reality. If our reflections about spirituality remain fixed on spirituality as a sub-specialized discipline of theology, then, among other things, in its systematization we come to differentiate the particular spirituality which applies to one or more persons, and can, then, also include the spirituality of Croatian catechists as well. It follows from the investigations that what is at work is Christian spirituality as the source of the spirituality of a catechist which the apostolic admonition, Christifideles laici (1990), defines as being the spirituality appropriate to laymen. Inasmuch as spiritual life does not consist of speculations only, one must also integrate Christian spiritual experience along with its spiritual dimension as an essential component found in the lay catechist as marked by the complex historical, societal, and cultural circumstances found in the Republic of Croatia. The subject of the deliberations of the second chapter of the dissertation, namely, Post-Conciliar Guidelines for the Magisterium consist of general as well as regional magisterial directions. As universal guidelines, the most important documents are taken into account: Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), The General Catechetical Directory, (1971), Catechesi Tradendae, (1979), The Universal Directory for Catechetics, 1997) and Christifideles laici, 1990). As guidelines for regional Churches, the documents from two European Bishops’ Conferences, were taken into consideration: The Joyful Proclamation of the Gospels and Upbringing in Faith, (1983), The Plan and Program for Catholic Education in Elementary Schools, (1998), and Called to Holiness, (2002), and those of the Italian Bishops’ Conference: Il Rinnovamento della catechesi (1970), La formazione dei catechisti nella comunità Cristiana, (1986), and Orientamenti e itinerari di formazione dei catechisti, (1991), and those of the German Bishops’ Conference: Zur Spiritualität des Religionslehrers, (1987). The first part of the dissertation establishes that the theological-catechetical investigations and documents of the Magisterium stand in reciprocal relationship wherein the specific foundation for spirituality of catechists is given with definitional specificity. Within that perspective, it is difficult to determine within those sources to what extent distinct facts affect others. Nonetheless, in a specific sense, one can affirm that theological-catechetical investigations are some sort of movement from the bottom up, and that they influence the above mentioned official normative Church documents, however, in like manner, the documents of the Church’s Magisterium compel further theological-catechetical investigation. Furthermore, for sake of a concrete realization of spiritual formation of catechists, one must mention that present-day scientific theological investigations influence the creation of a model for the spirituality of catechists which would be seen as a function of such formation. This very topic is the subject of investigation in the third chapter of the dissertation, namely, Models for Spirituality which are Realized in the Life and Work of Catechists along with a Theoretical Review. Of the better-known models arrived at by contemporary theological investigations, one must mention the following: the functional model, (French model), the relational model (Italy), the biblical model, (Italy), the Christocentric-ecclesial model, (Italy), the practical model, (Italy), and the model which integrates spirituality as part of one’s upbringing, (Germany). The investigations of this dissertation come to the conclusion that no recognizable structural Croatian model as a tenet, and in a formal sense, exists for the spiritual formation of catechists such as is found in the mentioned nations; hence, need compels that one project such a model. The above mentioned theoretical investigations concentrated on a conception of spirituality for lay catechists which engendered the cognition that the spirituality of catechists is one of the fundamental marks of his profile, that is to say, of his identity. Such an identity is shaped in three successive phases, namely, the phase wherein one decides to choose to be a catechist; the phase engaging in fundamental study; and phase of continual formation. This is a matter of a unique process wherein the catechist dynamically integrates these three phases. This, then, brings to light the fact that the spirituality of a lay catechist is not given in advance; rather such spirituality has its very own anthropological-theological origins and its very own fundamental and whole-life path of development. The second part of the dissertation which covers three chapters, namely, The Identification of the Starting Point governing Spirituality based on Contemporary CroatianChurch-Societal Conditions with a View to the Future, establishes through a qualitative and empirical investigation the true state of spirituality of lay catechists in Croatia. The first chapter, namely, A Methodological Approach: qualitative investigation, concentrates on the theoretical-methodological foundations used in the qualitative sociological investigations. As regards the sample used in the qualitative investigation, 41 subjects were used: 24 elementary school catechists and 17 middle school catechists. Two variables were taken into consideration in the choice of subjects, namely, age and experience, (years of service). The age variable for the groups studied ranged from younger subjects (25-38 years of age) through older subjects (39-60 years of age). As regards the variable governing experience, those with a lower experience level (1-9 years) are differentiated from those with a higher work experience (10-19 years). As regards age, the sample includes 21 younger subjects and 20 subjects of advanced age. All subjects worked in elementary or middle schools. A clear conclusion is established which indicates that the sample as relates to age is balanced between those who are younger and those who are older. In this manner and in a methodological sense, they represent Croatia in totality. For sake of a concrete insight into the real state of spirituality among lay catechists in Croatia, it was decided that the empirical investigation should aim to be qualitative: the method would make use of a structured-narrative-interview paradigm. In carrying out this approach, all methodological-technical aspects inherent to interviews-in-depth were observed. The plan governing interviews with the participants unfolded on the basis of a prepared set of questions which consisted of ten general questions formulated to be partly open and partly tailored to the situation when it became a matter of relations between the subject and the interviewer. From the point of view of content, the ten questions used in the interviews can, for sake of easy reference, be condensed as three thematic elements. The first element encompasses: the call, the commission, concrete declaration, and realization of spirituality in the lay catechist; the second element encompasses: the sources and growth in spirituality in the lay catechist and its influence on the catechist’s actions; the third element encompasses: the spiritual formation of the lay catechist. Respecting methodological procedures appropriate to deep-probing interviews, the conversations were carried out in various locations wherein those being sampled lived. They took place in a relaxed atmosphere in places such as monastic sites, catechetical offices, pastoral centers, and, in one instance, in a family home. Appropriate space and atmosphere for the nature of such deep-probing interviews sought to be assured and was chosen to be suitable to the person being interviewed. Prior to the start of the interview, each participant was made aware of the purpose of the interview and the approach to be used. This was done in accordance with standard interview procedures and the person being interviewed was sufficiently informed that his anonymity was guaranteed. The average interview lasted between one and one-half hours to as much as two hours. In some cases, the interview lasted even longer due to the degree of ability of the person being interviewed to communicate his thoughts. The conversations with the subjects were digitally recorded and duly transcribed in computer format. Appropriate notations for each of the conversations were simultaneously notated as the conversations were entered into the computer. So as to maintain the necessary degree of concentration for the subject and the interviewer, no more than three conversations were held on any given day. The entire cycle of conversations took place from the end of August to the beginning of December, 2010. In the second chapter, namely, An Analytic Interpretation of the Results of Qualitative Facts, synthetic deliberations of the interviewed catechists are interpreted in light of relevant theoretical reflections. Under the third heading, namely, The Formation of the spirituality of the Catechist with a View to the Future, the results of the investigations covered within the entire dissertation are expressed and particular emphasis on the Croatian Church-society situation regarding the spirituality of lay catechists as regards the future. Hence, this chapter can be considered to be the concluding chapter of the dissertation. The chapter assumes a three-part structure: the first part highlights the results of the deliberations on spirituality by Croatian authors exclusively, thereby making it possible to compare the Croatian actuality regarding the spirituality of lay catechists with that of the universal Church and the European situation. This gives way to the conclusion that in Croatia, at least at present, no recognizable systematic model for the formation of catechists exists. In the second part, the results of the empirical investigation are presented in the form of a condensed formulation of the thesis. On the basis of the first two parts of this chapter, an outline in the form of a model for the formation of lay catechists having an integrated dimension of spirituality is presented in the concluding portion of the dissertation. This model of formation is structured on a universally accepted three-dimensional schematic framework based on competence, that is, competence not only of the teacher, but even more so that of the catechists of the 21st Century: to be-to know-to know to do. Congruent to the nature of the dissertation, a series of mutually complementary methods follow: the method of analysis and synthesis, the method of description, narration and comparison, a descriptive method for deep-probing interviews, and a method for the projection of formational models. The goal of the dissertation concentrates on creating a recognizably structured contemporary Croatian model for the formation of catechists which would result in an integrated spiritual dimension in their person and would be founded on an expert and scientific basis. At the same time, by doing so, a crucial assist will be offered to those responsible for the formation of catechists so that they can critically evaluate such efforts in this regard up to the present time. Because of the suitably set goal of the dissertation, it is appropriate to conclude that the dissertation, in an original and scientific manner, contributes to the creation of a Croatian model for the formation of lay catechists who would have an integrated spiritual dimension to their person. If one takes into consideration the fact that the question of the spirituality of lay catechists has not been systematically treated in any Croatian language work thus far, then the above mentioned contribution achieves full expression. With the contribution of this dissertation, it can be hoped that specific improvised and inaccurate evaluations regarding the question of the spirituality of lay catechists can be overcome and that it will serve as an innovation to the formation of a spiritual profile for lay catechists in Croatia.