|Peter Kreeft has been involved with IPS since its beginnings in 1999.|
by Kelly Luttinen
“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come around.
that must be found.”
This simple Catholic children’s prayer sums up
the talk given by Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy
at Boston College, during the Founder’s Day celebration for the
Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, Virginia, on
Friday, September 11, 2009.
Just what has been lost, and who
lost it? The answer lies in the title of Kreeft’s
talk --“Has Psychology Lost its Soul?”
“The answer to that question
is yes,” he said. “It’s not only lost its soul,
but the soul.”
Kreeft is referring to the tendency for those
who practice modern psychology to deny any supernatural aspects of
human existence. According to Pope Benedict XVI in his latest
encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, this is a serious mistake.
psychological alienation and the many neuroses that afflict affluent societies
are attributable in part to spiritual factors…” the Pope writes.
“There cannot be holistic development and universal common good unless
people´s spiritual and moral welfare is taken into account, considered
in their totality as body and soul."
In answer to this
urgent need, IPS was founded to help psychology once again
find and address the needs of the human soul. “How
can we do this?” Kreeft asked. “We help people find
their soul by showing ours.”
IPS is the first graduate
school in the psychological sciences to incorporate Catholic theology and
philosophy into its program. Kreeft has been involved with IPS
since its beginnings, according to IPS founder and dean, Dr.
Gladys Sweeney. During her introduction of the professor, Dr. Sweeney
told the audience how the professor had came to be
involved in almost every major celebratory milestone for IPS since
|Fr Charles Sikorsky and Dr Gladys Sweeney with Peter Kreeft, author and guest speaker at the founder's day event.|
In 1997, Sweeney and colleague Nancy Flynn (now Coordinator,
Student Services and Events and Planning for IPS) went to
visit Kreeft to solicit his involvement in the institute, but
Kreeft was not in his office that day. So they
came back the next day. Kreeft was there, and gruffly
told them that they could have 10 minutes of his
time. He barked, “and if you ask me to join
any boards, the answer is no. I’m not a joiner.”
the cold reception, Sweeney and Flynn held Kreeft’s interest for
an hour and half. He shared with Dr. Sweeny and
Flynn how his own daughter had been searching for a
Catholic graduate school to study psychology, but found that no
such school existed. She settled for an Evangelical Protestant college.
later, IPS has filled that void. Fr Charles Sikorsky,
LC, president of IPS, told the group gathering on September
11, 2009, that the institute will “go where secular psychology
does not want to go.”
Students and faculty at IPS
are well aware of the challenges they face, but they are also
aware they are called to help a troubled society that
often finds few answers for its deeply seated problems in
a secular approach to psychological healing. The graduates of IPS
are determined to help their clients once again discover their
souls, and the purpose of those souls.
Quoting CS Lewis,
Kreeft said all human beings know they want something they
cannot have in this world. Referring to the well-know statement
by St. Augustine, he said, “You have made us for
yourself, Oh God, and our hearts are restless until they
rest in you.”
Kreeft explained something modern psychologists ignore and
IPS graduates relish– that the soul is the image of
God within us.
“The womb is like an altar,” Kreeft
said, “where God says ‘This is my Body.’ In the
womb, he creates images of himself.”
He continued, “The soul is
capable of union with God. It can know God. It
can be transformed into something that can participate with God
To learn more about IPS and its efforts
to integrate psychology and the Catholic faith, visit the web
site at www.ipsciences.edu.