The Sculpting Process of Jesuit Formation
Fr. Venancio “Benny” Calpotura, SJ
One of the favorite meditations I use to guide others to see themselves is to let them imagine themselves as a sculpture – a masterpiece by the Master Sculptor, shaped moment by moment, a work in progress. Yes, every person is a sculpture in the hands of the Creator…
Formation is a participation in this work in progress. Each formator is God’s co-sculptor in the shaping of His unique masterpiece. Family life may be likened to the kind of sculpture called “modeling.” “Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hands,” says Yahweh. As flexible as clay or wax is in the hands of the potter or the sculptor, so are we in the hands of God through our parents. At young adulthood, we move on to choose the particular pathway of our life commitment. But God does not cease His shaping and re-shaping of our person.
Formation work in religious life participates in a later stage in the Creator’s work in progress. Such a later formation may be likened more to another kind of sculpting called “carving.” Whereas modeling permits addition as well as subtraction of the material and is highly flexible, carving is strictly limited by the original block. The person who enters the process of Jesuit formation is still a work in progress – but has formed characteristics, taken from both nature and nurture, each with a peculiar temperament and personality – uniquely sculpted through his life story. The process of Jesuit formation will find God chiseling through each formand a masterpiece – slowly bringing out the grain, and the quality work of art. What I attempt in this article is to describe these stages of carving called “Jesuit formation.”