This, therefore, is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of the council and its message.
Of course, this blog takes its cue from the council's efforts to renew Catholic biblical studies and its direction that "the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology" (Dei Verbum, 24).
Along those lines, I thought I'd offer here a selection from a different document, namely, the Decree on Priestly Formation, entitled, Optatum Totius. Here once again the council calls for a better integration of biblical and theological studies.
At John Paul the Great Catholic University, we have a number of seminarians studying for the priesthood who--as part of their formation--are enrolled in our M.A. in Biblical Theology program.
We also have a number of priests and deacons who have enrolled in our program to supplement the formation they have received. Still also, we have catechists who have enrolled in our "catechetical track", looking to deepen their knowledge of Scripture and their abilities to teach it to others.
The document is quite precise in what should constitute priestly formation. I hope we are doing a good job fulfilling this description of the proper pedagogy for seminarians, but, as the above paragraph indicates, I think the basic pedagogy mapped out here is a model for those not only studying for priesthood but those studying Catholic theology in general.
I'd love to get your comments on this passage.
The students are to be formed with particular care in the study of the Bible, which ought to be, as it were, the soul of all theology. After a suitable introduction they are to be initiated carefully into the method of exegesis; and they are to see the great themes of divine revelation and to receive from their daily reading of and meditating on the sacred books inspiration and nourishment.
Dogmatic theology should be so arranged that these biblical themes are proposed first of all. Next there should be opened up to the students what the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church have contributed to the faithful transmission and development of the individual truths of revelation. The further history of dogma should also be presented, account being taken of its relation to the general history of the Church. Next, in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections. They should be taught to recognize these same mysteries as present and working in liturgical actions and in the entire life of the Church. They should learn to seek the solutions to human problems under the light of revelation, to apply the eternal truths of revelation to the changeable conditions of human affairs and to communicate them in a way suited to men of our day.
Likewise let the other theological disciplines be renewed through a more living contact with the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation. Special care must be given to the perfecting of moral theology. Its scientific exposition, nourished more on the teaching of the Bible, should shed light on the loftiness of the calling of the faithful in Christ and the obligation that is theirs of bearing fruit in charity for the life of the world. (Optatum Totius, no. 16)