The process of forming initiates into religious life can be understood and approached in various valid and useful ways. Some imagine the process as spiritual companioning, others liken it to an apprenticeship, while still others take a more instructional approach. Without critiquing any of those, this presentation will consider the process of religious formation – initial and ongoing – through the frame of ritualization.
Religious life is not only filled with rituals – from those that occur in chapel to those enacted in the dining room or recreational spaces – but itself can be considered a process of ritualization. Contemporary theories recognize ritual as a powerful way of acting that shapes folk through structured embodiment, whether or not folk are self-reflective about such practices. Formators not only configure ritualized practices for initiates but also the ritual spaces that impact embodiment. Embedded in such practices and their environments are enduring messages, e.g., about spirituality, fraternity/sorority and the use of power and authority. This workshop will serve as a guided theological reflection on such ritualization. Special attention will be given to men’s communities, particularly those with clerics, and the unique power issues in their ritualization.