Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Degree Name

Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD)


Eduardo Fernandez, S.J.


This dissertation conducts a comparative study of the cultivation of the virtues in Catholic spiritual tradition and the perfections (pāramitās) in the Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions in view of the spiritual needs of contemporary Croatian young adults. The comparison is carried out through the exploration of two key texts: The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, a sixteenth-century Basque Catholic, and the founder of the Society of Jesus, and The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicaryāvatāra) of Śāntideva, an eight-century Indian Mahāyāna monk.

The study links the central teachings of the Catholic faith to the daily life and identity of young Catholics through the cultivation of the virtues/ pāramitās, re-imagined for the modem sensibilities of today's Croatia. Such practice understands the cultivation of the virtues/pāramitās as intentional, deliberate, and cognitive behavioral activity through which one shapes one's life according to a particular vision of ultimate reality.

The primary objective of this study is to fill a vital need within the Catholic community in the small but culturally and religiously complex nation of Croatia. The general problem facing Croat Catholics today is the clash of Catholic pre-modernity with modem and post-modern ideas and institutions. In this encounter, pre-modern Catholic religious forms no longer satisfy the needs and expectations of modem young adults in a society increasingly marked by cultural and religious pluralism.

The immediate context of my study is the "3D Formation Program," a three-yearlong systematic program for young adults organized by the University Students Catholic Academic Center (SK.AC), which belongs to the Jesuit university chaplaincy at Zagreb University. The name "3D" is an abbreviation of the Croatian words, Duh, Dusa, and Drustvo, meaning "Spirit, Soul and Society." My study argues that a fruitful synthesis between Ignatius and Śāntideva with regard to the cultivation of virtues/pārarmitās may contribute to a form of Catholic spirituality that is intellectually and behaviorally challenging, relevant, and compelling for today's Croatian young adults.

Buddhism is attractive for Catholics because of its practicality, immediately pragmatic effects, monastic institutions, and ritual richness. It therefore serves as a good dialogue partner for lgnatian spirituality in the cultivation of a contextualized spiritual practice. Though the two traditions differ radically on the level of doctrinal assumptions and consequently, ultimate goals, they share a great deal on the level of the practice of virtues/pāramitās, which assumes a common, human, biological-intellectual substratum.

The theoretical framework of this study is the comparative theological method developed by Francis Clooney, complemented with Judith Berling's interreligious learning. The reason for merging Clooney's and Berling's methods lies in the nature of my work, which involves studying each text in its own context (Clooney) as well as considering contemporary interpretations within " living" communities (Berling). The work is interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to comparative theology and interreligious learning, the study applies an historical and sociological framework to an analysis of the political, economic, ideological, religious, and cultural dimensions of the Croatian context. This analysis forms the foundation of a contextualized spiritual practice for young adults who are seeking genuine encounter with God in the complex historical reality of Croatia.

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