Interior Integration for Catholics

{{ show.title }}Trailer Bonus Episode {{ selectedEpisode.number }}
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
By {{ }}
Broadcast by


Dr. Peter defines "human formation" and discusses how and why deliberate, thoughtful human formation, grounded in the Catholic Faith is a challenge for us and our Church-- and what to do about it, starting with an experiential exercise to help you get in touch with the particular elements of human formation you are lacking.

Show Notes

  1. Intro:  I am clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski, and you are listening to the weekly podcast Interior Integration for Catholics
    1. Today in episode 63, we are discussing human formation -- what is it?  What do you mine it's missing for many people?
    1. Windup: I am going to start with a bold claim and a controversial claim.  
      1. For many, many Catholic adults in our day and age, in our culture, there is a much greater need to focus on human formation than on spiritual formation.
      2. Let me repeat that:  Many, many Catholic adults at this point in their lives need solid human formation more than they need spiritual formation.
        1. Serious Catholic adults.
      4. Commitment to human formation is so important in the Catholic married sexual life that it composes two of the four legs of my model of a Catholic marriage bed.  
        1. The husband's commitment to human formation -- one leg
        2. The wife's commitment to human formation -- the other leg
        3. Another leg is really understanding attachment and integrity needs (episode 62)
        4. Another leg is a model the Internal family systems-informed model of the person with a self and with parts -- we are a unity and a multiplicity -- episodes 60 and 61. 
        5. The floor is the a deep, abiding, childlike trust in Mary our Spiritual Mother and God our Spiritual Father.  
        6. Building a whole bed here, starting in episode 58.  No need to review all of it now.   
      5. So many Catholics with lots of spiritual formation who have built their spiritual lives on a very, very unsound natural foundation, with mediocre or poor human formation. 
        1. So their spiritual lives are unstable.  
        2. Example of early client -- extreme example
          1. Mid 30's, very earnest Catholic, very sincere, distressed --  I have to help his wife understand the Faith.  Wife was Catholic, but a lot of tension between them about his spiritual practices.  

          1. Danger of divorce -- wife: get to counseling or I'll divorce you 

          1. Wife concerns?
            1. Spending three hours per day in Eucharistic Adoration
              1. Bringing their young children
              1. Our Lady of Lourdes

            1. No gainful employment
            1. Wife feeling constantly criticized by his fraternal corrections, his attempts to help her become more holy.  

          1. Spiritual Problems?  No -- problems in the natural realm.  
            1. Blended with a part that is so driven by fear.  
            2. Part desperately trying to please an extremely demanding God and Mary -- trying to become holy, Pelagian efforts
            3. Lack of attunement to children -- alienated from them, they were becoming alienated from the faith
            4. Wedge in the marriage, wife thinks he's a religious nutcase.  
            5. He recognizes there are problems, wife needs to change
              1. Praying the Rosary
              1. Fatima Visionary Sr. Lucia:  There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

        3. Problems come from his distorted human formation.   
        4. Priest sex abuse scandal.  
          1. Can frame it all spiritually.  
            1. The priest who sexually abused children gave in to lust, it was a violation of the virtue of chastity, among other virtues.  Ok.  Hmmm.  So it was a spiritual problem, a failure, he gave into temptation.   No doubt there are spiritual dimensions to this, including a most grave and serious sin.  
            2. Or is a primary issue with his disordered sexual attraction to children and a real lack of impulse control --problems in the natural realm, a problem with his human formation.  That makes so much more sense to me as being primary.  
        5. Scrupulosity -- so often seen as a spiritual problem, but is one of the most frustrating issues for confessors and spiritual directors encounter -- so often it doesn't resolve with traditional spiritual means.
          1. Primarily in the natural realm.  Did a whole episode with Adam Cross The Catholic Therapist on human formation issues, the real issues in the natural realm that underlie scrupulosity.  

      6. Serious Devastation -- original sin.  
        1. Effect on the human body -- death, illness, pain -- and now intensity of pain in childbirth, physical labor and toil to survive scratching out an existence from cursed ground.  
        2. Effect on the rest of our human formation
          1. Distrust of God
          1. Fear
          1. Anger
          1. Loss of harmony
          1. Really a kind of dis-integration -- in the world and inside of us.  

      7. Grace perfects nature; it does not destroy it.  St. Thomas Aquinas
        1. We need to work with our human natures.  We need our human natures to be formed.  

      8. Jesus discussed foundations
        1. Discussion of foundations in Scripture -- Matthew 7:24-27
          1. 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

        1. Jesus as the cornerstone.
      10. Algebra and arithmetic.  
      11. Hold up, we're getting ahead of ourselves here.  What is human formation?

  3. Definitions
    1. Those who follow this Interior Integration for Catholic Podcast know that I am all about defining our terms.
      1. So much rests on a clear understanding of what we are discussing.
      1. Human Formation, to be honest is a nebulous term.
        1. Used a lot in Catholic contexts -- primarily in seminary contexts.
        1. A whole section is devoted to human formation in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document entitled "Program of Priestly Formation, Fifth Edition" which came out in 2006.  pages 29-42
          1. Longest and most complete discussion of human formation I could find in an official church document
          1. 14 pages -- but no definition of human formation.  
            1. The foundation and center of all human formation is Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, paragraph 75
            2. Also in paragraph 75, we learn that "human formation is the 'necessary foundation' of priestly formation.  
            3. We learn that the goals of human formation is to foster growth so that a man can become 
              1. A free person
              2. Of solid moral character
              3. Prudent and discerning
              4. Invested in and capable of communion, of relating deeply with others
              5. With Good communication skills
              6.  Affective maturity - integration of feelings, thoughts and values
              7. Who cares for his body
              8. Who relates well with others
              9. A good steward of material possessions
              10. And who can function well in public.  
            4. But in all the 143 pages of this document, we get no definition of what human formation is.  

        1. Revisions -- sixth edition has been approved by the Bishops in November 2019, reportedly doubling in size to nearly 300 pages, -- As of April 2021, still awaiting recognitio from the Holy See, a formal recognition. 

      1.  Pope St. John Paul II's 1992 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis I Give You Shepherds 3 pages on the importance of Human Formation, but again no definition of it.  Nothing even close to a definition.  99 pages on the formation of priests in the circumstances of the present day.  
        1. Perhaps there's an assumption that we all know what it is.  But we don't.
        2. I will tell you that many US bishops don't have a very clear idea of what human formation is.  
          1. Many of their responses to the sex abuse crisis reveal that they are really lost with regard to human formation

      1. Unable to find much else.  The most relevant passage in the CCC is paragraph 2461 which says that "True development concerns the whole man.  It is concerned with increasing each person's ability to respond to his vocation and hence to God's call.  

      1. Seminaries
        1. Pontifical North American College -- August 2019 30-page description of their Formation Program.  
          1. Interesting read, lots of good information
            1. 7 elements of their human formation program
            1. Very detailed breakdown
              1. 31 overall goals, personal, relational, 

              1. year by year of the specific milestones in human formation each seminarian should reach average of 7 goals per year.  

          3. No definition of Human formation

        1. St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Philadelphia 

        1. St. Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD.
        1. St. John's Seminary in Boston, MA
        1. Corpus Christi College and Seminary in Carlton, Victoria, Australia.  

      1. I could go on and on.  I spent hours searching.  If you can find a solid definition of human formation in any official church document, I will send you a prize.  Email me at or text me on my cell at 317.567.9594, and provide me your mailing address and I will mail you a prize, which is my absolute favorite image of our patroness Our Lady Undoer of Knots
      1. Consult with religious communities.  Expert in cults.  International Cultic Studies Association refers a lot to me when a convent or monastery goes off the rails in some way -- problems in human formation.  

    1. The bottom line is that at present there is a void in institutional Catholic Church around human formation.  
      1. Maybe human formation is defined in the upcoming Program of Priestly Formation, sixth edition.  I would love to see that.  Somewhere in the additional 150 pages, they will define it.  
      2. Possibility of the Catholic Christian Meta Model of the Human Person 
        1. came out last year in 2020 -- Vitz Nordling and Titus -- faculty at DMU.  
        2. No index entry for human formation -- focus on psychotherapy or counseling.  
      3. Understandable in some ways.  Colossal Failures when poor human formation has been brought in
        1. Immaculate Heart of Mary Community Story -- California -- Bill Coulson, Carl Rogers

Story of a repentant Psychologist.
'66 and '67. what we called "sensitivity" or "encounter." In a chapter of "Lesbian Nuns", one former Immaculate Heart nun describes the summer of 1966, when we did the pilot study in her order -
"We" being you and Rogers?
Rogers and I and eventually 58 others: we had 60 facilitators. We inundated that system with humanistic psychology. We called it Therapy for Normals, TFN. The IHMs had some 60 schools when we started; at the end, they had one. There were some 560 nuns when we began. Within a year after our first interventions, 300 of them were petitioning Rome to get out of their vows. They did not want to be under anyone's authority, except the authority of their imperial inner selves.
  1. Psychological Seduction 1983 book William Kirkpatrick.
  2. Temptation to throw out the baby with the bath water.  
  3. So one of you might say -- So, Dr. Peter, it's easy to be a critic, why don't you define human formation.  Put your big boy Catholic psychologist pants and stop complaining and light a candle in the darkness, why don't you, hmmm?
  4. All right, since you threw down the gauntlet like that,  I will define Human Formation.
    1. Reference to Vatican II -- Decree on the Apostolate of the laity paragraph 32
      1. Lumen Gentium 37.  The laity are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.  When occasions arise, let this be done through the organs erected by the Church for this purpose. Let it always be done in truth, in courage and in prudence, with reverence and charity toward those who by reason of their sacred office represent the person of Christ.

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong.  Being small and childlike here.  

  5. Definition time with Dr. Peter [Insert Sound Effect]
    1. Human formation is the lifelong process of natural development, aided by grace, by which a person integrates all aspects of his interior emotional, cognitive, relational, and bodily life, all of his natural faculties in an ordered way, conformed with right reason and natural law so that he is freed from natural impediments to trust God as His beloved child and to embrace God's love.  Then, in return, because he possesses himself, he can love God, neighbor and himself with all of his natural being in an ordered, intimate, personal, and mature way.
    1. Insert parts of the souls in addition to passions and faculties.  
  7. Breaking down the process
    1. Lifelong -- there is no graduation.  Conception to death
      1. Our Lord -- human formation, in his humanity.  
        1. Raised by a family
        2. St. Joseph and Our Mother Mary formed him
        3. Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

    1. Process of natural development -- focus on the natural realm here
    1. Aided by grace.  Because all good comes from God, even in unbaptized people and those who are not in a state of grace.  

    1. Integration -- key word.  
      1. All aspects of inner experiential and bodily life.  
        1. Awareness of experience -- making the unconscious conscious -- awareness of our parts in the multiplicity of self.  Bringing those parts into a harmonious unity with the core self.  Emotions
        2. Needs
        3. Emotions
        4. Guiding Beliefs/Assumptions
        5. Cognitions or Thought  
        6. Intentions
        7. Desires
        8. Attitudes
        9. Impulses
        10. Interpersonal style
        11. Body sensations
        12. Sexual aspects
      2. Nothing split off, repressed in the long run
        1. Revenge of the repressed
        1. Freakouts in the post office -- Floyd.  

        1. So we can be calm, recollected and then able to enter into the phenomenological world of others
          1. Not just self-absorbed navel gazing
          1. Starving waiter syndrome -- No one gives what he does not have.  Nemo dat quod non habet

      4. Conformed with right reason and natural law -- this process is ordered.  It's not subjective, it's not whatever I make myself out to be -- we conform ourselves.
      5. Trust God as a His beloved child and embrace his love.  
        1. Fr, Tadeusz Dajczer -- pp 67-68 of his book "The Gift of Faith"
          1.  p.59 The foundation of evil lies in a lack of simplicity and a lack of childlike trust in God.  

          1. p.67  The lack of trust, the sowing of seeds distrust toward God is, in large measure, the source of all your sins and of all you existential and psychological anguish, and indirectly, also the source of your physical problems.  

          1. 68  Distrust of God is worse than sin because it is the root and the source of sin
        3. Lots of natural impediments to being able to love God
          1. Attachment injuries and relational traumas (discussed in the last podcast)
          1. Integrity needs not met by parents and others infolved in our human formation
          1. Prevent us from being small, with wonder and awe.  

      6. Then, in return, he can love God, neighbor and himself with all of his natural being in an ordered, intimate, personal, and mature way
        1. God -- overcoming negative God images
        1. Neighbor
        1. Self -- PPF 5th Edition
          1. self-knowledge
          1. self-acceptance
          1. self-gift -- the seminarian needs integrity and self-possession in order to make such a gift.

      9. So much more than psychotherapy -- psychotherapy or counseling is only one means of human formation.  
      10. Human formation is relational 

  9. Human Deformation
    1. Trauma
    1. Attachment Injuries
    1. Sins
      1. Original Sin
      1. Personal Sins
        1. Of other
        1. Of me.  

    1. Getting stuck in old patterns -- automatic.  Trauma responses.  

  12. Vision -- Fostering Human Formation deliberately 
    1. Who?  
      1. Parents -- starting from conception
        1. Congenital impact -- hormone levels
        1. Epigenetics -- effect on the body
        1. CCC 2223  Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. 

        1. CCC 2225 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one's life. 

      4. Extended family -- grandparents, aunts uncles
      5. Brothers and sisters
      6. Pastors
      7. Priests -- Confessors -- Spiritual Directors
      8. Coaches
      9. Youth Group Leaders
      10. Remember, human formation is life long -- for adults
        1. Spouses
        1. Supervisors
        1. Friends
        1. Life Coaches
        1. Exodus 90 anchors
        1. Therapists -- experts in working through de-formation.  

    2. What 
      1. This podcast helps you focus inward on your human formation -- to help you bring together the different parts of yourself into unity and harmony with God in the natural realm.
      2. a deliberate program
      3. Guided reflection.  
    3. How
      1. Set aside time -- many of you set aside regular time for spiritual work.  Prayer, Mass, spiritual reading, all kinds of spiritual formation.  

      1. Set aside time for your human formation as well.  
        1. 5 minutes a day -- checking in with your parts -- meditation at the end of this podcast.  
        2. Know thyself -- Socrates
          1. Not just the spiritual focus, but a focus on your human formation

      1. Commitment to taking human formation seriously.
        1. Hard to do on our own
        1. Harness your own network of people to help with formation
        1. Resilient Catholics Community -- guidance on it.  Specialize in it.
          1. Walking with each other -- companions, checking in
          1. Supporting each other on the journey.  

          1. Get on the waiting list for the RCC --  go to to sign up -- there's no obligation to join, but you will get all kinds of cool free stuff.  
            1. Not just for you, but for those you are called to love.  To help them with their formation.  

    4. When -- now.  
    5. Why
  13. Meditation -- parts and human formation.  
  14. Feedback.  Let me know how these episodes are landing with you -- -- some of you already have.  Get in touch with me on my cell at 317.567.9594 or my email at
    1. Trying out a new idea -- an individual conversation hour -- I promise you I will be on my cell phone from 4:30 to 5:30 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 13 to talk with any Interior Integration for Catholics podcast listener about our podcast episodes. Let's have a conversation.  I want to be accessible.  There is no need to email me beforehand or text me or anything like that, just drop in and meet with me by phone.  I'm available.  My cell is 317.567.9594.  I like the phone or Zoom a lot better for relating than email or texts.  Not therapy, but really a chance to get into a good conversation about the podcast.  Your reactions, your feedback, whatever you want to talk about with regard to this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast.  And these conversations are private, I won't use anything from them in the podcast without your permission.  

    1. Premium Podcasts each week for our Resilient Catholic community members and our Interior Therapist Community members where we go deeper.  

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Resilient Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation. We look for God's providence in all that happens to us, in accord with Romans 8:28, grounded in an authentic Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also join our online community around this podcast at