By Fr. Roy Cimagala
I THINK that from time to time, we need to jolt ourselves to get acquainted with certain concepts that actually are basic and very important to us, especially in our times of rapid changes and extreme pressures.
In our general culture and knowledge, we cannot remain in the level of the previous generations. Many things have changed. Many things also have been discovered. Objective knowledge has expanded exponentially. Don’t you think our subjective knowledge should keep in step with it?
We cannot remain indifferent to these developments, although it’s also true that we have to be more discerning and selective. The chances of our getting drowned and lost in the welter of info these days are increasing. We need to be discriminating.
And I don’t mean just the technical data. There also are quantum leaps of newly unearthed things in the world of the speculative sciences like philosophy, theology, and in other sciences that previously were considered kind of restricted areas that are meant only for some experts and specialists.
Well, these days, these specialized fields are getting to be more and more of common interest. While it’s true that the focus of specialization has tightened, the range and scope of general culture also has widened and deepened.
We seem to have waken up to the realization that these two aspects of knowledge, the specialized and the general, are meant to complement more than conflict with each other. And I think that’s a very welcome development.
And so I was happy to recently get into the field of Christian anthropology, or the study of man using scientific data but inspired by Christian faith. This was because I had to give a class to our school staff who are given continuous formation to be effective tutors of our students.
The ambitious goal of our technical school is to have a universal coverage of tutors for all the students. And so there I was, making a foray into the allied field of psychology, which I, as a priest, previously regarded as taboo. But truth to tell, I enjoyed and got tremendously enlightened while studying it.
For example, I was truly fascinated when I studied the part on what was termed as our psychosomatic unity. I used to associate that p-word with self-induced illness.
Now I realize it is a natural aspect of our life that, in fact, plays a crucial role. I believe it should be learned thoroughly especially by teachers and counselors.
As an amateur trying to understand that concept, I learned that since we are made up of body and soul, something material and something spiritual, it would be necessary to know how the contact and relationship between these two constituent components take place and work.
This, in a nutshell, is what our psychosomatic unity is all about. It’s a very interesting study that can give light to why we behave and react to things in a certain manner, or why we have a definite character and temperament. It can tell us what is healthy and not, what is ideal and is not quite so.
The soul is supposed to be the essence of our life. It gives us our nature. It integrates all the parts and levels of life, and determines how we act.
But while the soul is spiritual and oriented toward the universal and the infinite, it is united to the body, like the form cannot be separated from the substance. And the body individuates the soul, because of its materiality.
It should be very interesting to catalogue and classify the possible combinations, in general terms, of the ways the spiritual is individuated by the material. Actually, there are more interesting, even endless things that can be discovered.
This study on our psychosomatic unity surely makes us understand ourselves better, and helps us to know what to do to grow and improve our life in all its aspects. It can be a wonderful tool to help those with special problems. And these days, cases with special problems are proliferating.
I feel this is one important reason why the Vatican, for example, has recently issued a document on the use of psychology in the formation and selection of seminarians and priests.
As a priest who gives spiritual direction to students, I consider this knowledge indispensable. May we all develop an earnest interest in pursuing this knowledge!