Skip links

Why Seminary Formation Must Be Scrutinized

Ever since I seriously embraced my Catholic faith, I’ve lived with the sensation of biting into an orange right after brushing my teeth.

Toothpaste has a chemical in it that temporarily blocks our receptors of sweetness. Apparently, so do certain smug and sententious Catholics who occupy the ranks of the hierarchy.

In her book The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller tells the story of a seemingly innocuous incident. She was walking along behind two young parents who had just bought themselves ice cream bars. Their young son skipped alongside, watching his parents enjoy their treat in the park. When he asked for one of his own, his mother rebuked him and told him that it was too cold for him. The same scene played out with his father.

When the parents finished, they handed the child their empty sticks. Then they laughed at him when he cried. “What’s the big deal? It’s not so important!”

Humiliated and hurt, the young boy tossed aside the sticks and lagged obediently behind his parents.

This may not sound like much, but this story is more relevant than ever because it shows how small traumas grow into big ones. In the case of the child in Miller’s story, the damage is two-fold. First, if the parents continue to dismiss the child’s emotions, he’ll become emotionally compliant—he’ll spend his childhood trying to meet the emotional needs of his parents. (Later, he’ll protect himself from that fact by idealizing his parents and painfully striving to earn their approval.) Second, the parents rob their child of the very thing that they themselves desire: someone who takes them seriously.

Read more at Crisis Magazine. 

Share with Friends: