How do we form apostles to serve the Church?


Theology is a science of faith, which implies not only that we study it with faith, but also that it retains a scientific character.

The educational offer of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is presented on the institutional website ( with these words: “All the academic activity of the Athenaeum is directed towards the accomplishment of its mission: to train apostles […] at the service of the Church to bear witness to the mystery of Christ, to create cultural currents of Christian thought which, in full communion with the Magisterium of the Church and responding to the theoretical and existential questions of man, permeate society with a Christian spirit.”

The Athenaeum was founded and is governed by the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. From the name of the founding body, one can sense the privileged emphasis on the mystery of Christ, cultivated as central both in spirituality and in studies. For several years, I have had the privilege of teaching the course dedicated to Christology and soteriology at the Faculty of Theology. These two branches of theology deal with the mystery of the Person and Work of Christ. In the Christology and Soteriology course, we study who Jesus is and what he has done for us. The course takes place in the perspective that we have just mentioned: to form apostles in the service of the Church, to bear witness in the current cultural context to the mystery of Christ, in full harmony with the past and present magisterium of the Church.

Theology is a science

A theology course is not a spiritual retreat, nor a training for pastoral workers. Complex issues are sometimes addressed and therefore not immediately understood by everyone. Theologyon the other hand, is science of faith, which implies not only that it is studied with faith, but also that it retains a scientific character. That theology is scientific does not mean that it is separate from pastoral care or mission. Instead, it implies that the pastoral care and mission will be facilitated if it is preceded and accompanied by a serious theological study. It is that they will rest on solid foundations, because the new Christian apostles (ordained ministers, religious and laity) will prove to be well prepared, precisely because they will have studied thoroughly a theology corresponding to the faith and coherent with the mission. .

For this, the Athenaeum place the word “Excellency” In the center. This term comes up often in planning, because there is an awareness that all possible efforts must be made – with God’s help – to increasingly consolidate and strengthen the quality of studies and all study support services. that the Athenaeum offers to students and teachers. It is in this perspective of constant search for excellence that we must reread the considerable work and the multiple initiatives produced since the first erection in 1993, by the Pontifical Athenaeum, which is about to complete the 30th anniversary of its foundation.

A revival of theology

The theological revival of the 20th century has involved various fields and perspectives. Through an increased focus on salvation history, a more Christological character was also imprinted on theology. In clearer terms, recent theology has focused on the concrete way in which God has revealed himself and worked in history for our salvation. Looking at the history of salvation and considering the Bible as the soul of theology, always united to the body of apostolic Tradition, today’s theology has identified Jesus Christ as the center and fulfillment of all the story of revelation and salvation.

Knowledge of the mystery of God the Trinity, as well as the concrete realization of God’s plan for the world, are given in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father made man, the only Mediator between God and men. This Trinitarian Christocentrism is the foundation of the Christian faith and therefore also functions as the ordering and coordinating principle of that discipline of study which is called the science of faith, or theology. Regina Apostolorumeducational offer take this into account centrality of the mystery of Christ. Thus, in the course of Christology and soteriology, links often appear between this central mystery and the other mysteries of the faith studied in the other courses of the educational offer.

Learn the synthesis of theology

The Athenaeum allows students to discover the many currents of Catholic theology and finds in the mystery of Christ the great synthesis necessary for a unified vision of faith and theology. Pope Francis recalled the importance of possessing such a synthetic vision: “The challenge of an inculturated preaching consists in proclaiming a synthesis, not detached ideas or values. Where your synthesis is, there is your heart. The difference between enlightening people with a synthesis and doing it with detached ideas is like the difference between boredom and sincere fervor” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 143).

In order to forming this synthetic vision of faith in Christ, one must be demanding of oneself studies, which is a commitment to be taken very seriously if one wants to correspond adequately to the vocation to be available for the Lord and the Church evangelize. It remains important for students both to have their inner gaze turned towards those whom they will one day evangelize and to understand that in the study it is necessary to address even questions which may sometimes seem unnecessary in the light of such a future ministry.

But this perplexity finds its answer in the words of Benedict XVI: “The subjects of study often seem far removed from the practice of Christian life and pastoral service. However, it is completely wrong to always immediately ask the pragmatic question: will this help me in the future? Will it be useful on a practical or pastoral level? It is precisely not just a question of learning the obviously useful things, but of knowing and understanding the internal structure of faith as a whole, so that it becomes an answer to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another but ultimately remains the same. For this reason, it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and thus understand how the answers are real answers” ​​(Letter to seminarians, 18.10.2010, no. 5).

This article was produced in partnership with the papal Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum.


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