Thoughts from a young theologian

Breakdown


Any student needs to be able to deal with stress… Stress is, especially today, a part of most students’ lives, surprisingly even among some of the younger aged students. Well, a seminarian is also a student. But, something I’ve been realizing more and more as I’m here is the fact that a seminarian is not JUST a student. One could coast through the academic life at a normal university like SFU for example and just be a student. I could easily just get up in the morning, go to school, go to my classes, study a bit, go back down. A better university student is one who can take on some extra roles while at it too like joining clubs, being active in student government or the greater community in general, etc…

As a seminarian, you’re expected to be the latter kind of student, but to some extent, even more than that. You’re expected to be first and foremost, a man of God and of prayer because people do not want a scholar out of you but a priest. You’re to be a member of the community and cannot enclose yourself in your room for hours upon hours just studying. You’re to be a leader, a psychologist in training, a teacher (as a cathechist), an available mass server (especially if you are a seminarian for your particular archdiocese because they can occasionally call you and a whole bunch of you up for serving the mass of the bishop/archbishop. You’re expected to be a healer too who’s to try and make himself available for others in their needs… We help others through either our hospice or prison ministry. All of this on top of being a student. All of a sudden, the long days on account of the really early mornings and (sometimes) late nights don’t seem so long do they?

Well this week, I’ve had two papers due, one midterm (which was only announced to us before the weekend), and both the oratory contest semifinal (which I got through) and finals (this coming Sunday for anyone interested). With the oratory contest finals this Sunday, I’ve been working to get ready, not just as a finalist but also as a choir director because we’ve been preparing all semester the one piece that we’re hoping to perform then too. On top of all that, I’ve had to go out to catechism as usual on Wednesday, I went camping on Saturday (and while I really enjoyed it, lost a day there), and had a very tough week academically looking at St. Thomas Aquinas’ De Anima (On the Soul) and Jacques Maritain’s Introduction to Philosophy. Latin has also been getting significantly harder as we’ve gone far past the simple verbs and are about to get into the subjunctive. All of that and I’m just a pre-theology arts student. Theology is supposed to be significantly harder.

Needless to say, for the first time in a little while, I kind of broke down yesterday. My mind was completely shot and, for some reason, I couldn’t understand anything that was being said and was far too tired to study and even to pray. Normally, during days of extreme stress at the university, I used to love just ending my day by going to the pub and ordering a nice, big chocolate milkshake (hehehehehe) to end the day but that’s no longer possible now because I cannot leave the property without permission (and who would have what it takes to go up to a monk asking if they can leave to buy a chocolate milkshake) and because it’s Lent too!!!

So what did I do? What any normal, everyday student would… I slacked off… c”,) I bugged some of the other seminarians, called up friends looking for some support, and during the afternoon, went for a little walk. One of the perks of being a seminarian is my little big backyard… It is after all a Benedictine abbey, which means that its grounds are quite extensive. I went down near Mary lake past our little Marian grotto and down the trail that would normally lead to the farm. To my right is the farm, the orchards, a majestic view of the mountains and to my left, the peaceful lake, the abbey church in the distance. The weather was absolutely perfect… not too hot and sunny but not cold, rainy and wet either. I passed Brother Gregory as he was busy clearing the trail for the tractor. He kind of affirmed me in my “afternoon off” saying that it had been a while since he was in university and he had no intention of going through that again… c”,) I passed Father Peter but he was really busy chopping wood with his huge chainsaw. I climbed up the little hill nearby and sat down up top right next to an old tree that overlooks the whole valley and gives a spectacular view of the mountains and farmland. It was nice to slack off just once… c”,) Hehehehehe

In the end, I did end up getting my milkshake as we were served for dessert some strawberries for dinner. I put mine in a little bowl and added milk to it, making a milkshake of my own… Heheeehehe Then after our usual late night Latin class, where our supposed quiz, that I was nowhere near ready for and whose preparation had been one of the bigger causes of my little breakdown, was cancelled, I listened to the Canucks win their 52nd game and the President’s Trophy as the best in the NHL. I did end up doing some work towards the late night and was in much much better spirit then too…

A seminarian’s life is most definitely not an easy one. It’s partly why I think we need lots of prayers and why it has to be, more than anything else, a call from God who alone will sustain us and give us the strength to face whatever comes. It’s sooooooo easy to just give up and call it that I’m starting to get a better understanding of why only about 25% of all seminarians make it through all the way. I guess that’s why it’s super helpful for us that many people are praying for us… Anyways, hope you all have a fantastic day!!! I’ll post an update on the finals of the speech contest soon!

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2 responses

  1. Marla

    …remember footprints in the sand…I said a prayer for you…

    April 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

  2. anewscribbler

    My thoughts are with you. You are doing great and you’ll do great, I’m sure of it.

    – little girl Pris

    April 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm

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