What does psychology have to do with the faith-journey of a twenty-year-old?
The question knocked on my door when aged nineteen I was discovering the complex world of the diocesan seminary. The rector had organised a series of community meetings with a psychologist. Those appointments became bricks used to construct an initial answer, an answer that took on an increasingly precise and concrete form with the passage of time and a series of experiences. An image presents itself to say something about it all: a peacock’s tail that opens up to reveal its beauty and its articulation with diverse colors. Or another metaphor comes to mind: the opening of a rose that gently emits its fragrance.
Even the novitiate was an occasion to encounter psychology. A psychotherapist gave us second-year novices a course on human aspects, on the dynamics linked to the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in September of last year. She then asked us to read a book that deals with the theme with a particular emphasis on identity. We met up again with her in May to share the movements and reflections that had emerged and settled in us at the end of the course and after our subsequent reading. This encounter, like all previous similar experiences, was a blessing. I realise that my humanity is very similar to a diamond with many facets. Different elements, meanings intertwine and go on to make up the person I am today. The instruments of psychology are useful tools to decipher them and understand them more and more deeply, and to understand what role and what space they might occupy in my present.
However, this is not a self-centered task of a worker intent only on bringing order to his own building site. There is more. Understanding and developing what lives in me and constitutes me is the way to orientate affections, the whole person to the Lord, with the awareness that he is first to desire the best possible growth of my humanity. His grace passes through it, like a delicate light that gently touches and illuminates the multiple facets of a diamond.