Do you ever ask your parish priest a question and instead of an answer get three questions in response? You might find that frustrating, but your priest can’t help it…he’s trained that way!
The U.S.C.C.B. Program of Priestly Formation requires a rigorous study of philosophy for all men who enter the seminary.
“The study of philosophy is fundamental and indispensable to the structure of theological studies and to the formation of candidates for the priesthood. It is not by chance that the curriculum of theological studies is preceded by a time of special study of philosophy.”
The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek PHILO, which means “love,” and SOPHIA, which means “wisdom.” Philosophy, therefore, is not a love of answers; but rather a love for the questions and queries that deepen our knowledge and wisdom.
That doesn’t mean we don’t love answers. But the root of the word question is quest – we are seeking something. To ask a question, one has to ask it properly, and there is an axiom that we employ with frequency: When looking at an answer or statement, we seldom affirm, never deny, and always distinguish. We look at things from all angles to get as much light as we can, and thus the best answer we can. There is truth in just about every statement, so we never deny; yet rarely does an answer give full light, so we seldom affirm.
All St. Joseph College seminarians major in Philosophy at Belmont Abbey College. They become familiar with the great scholars in church history such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, and the intellectuals who influenced them including Plato, Aristotle, and Boethius. (Men who enter seminary after college must take two years of “pre-theology,” i.e. “philosophy,” before beginning their theological studies.)
This Monday is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, and to honor this acclaimed advocate of inquiry, we’re celebrating Philosophy Week at SJCS. Follow us on Facebook for a week full of quips, quotes, and questions that’ll make you think!
You can also watch this video to learn more about the importance of philosophy in priestly formation: