"Big Four" Highlights


 

Get Thee to a Seminary

A great adventure and a better you await

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

You’re a young man, finishing college or making your way in the working world, open to marriage but right now unattached. Unlike many of your millennial peers, you are spiritual and religious. You love the Catholic Church and the sacraments, find meaning in the Mass and Scripture. What is the best path you can take as you plan for a life of hard work and fulfillment?

Get thee to a seminary.

Forget what the world says, or even your good-hearted church or weekend buddies; listen to the deepest part of your heart and choose whom you will serve this day. If there is even the smallest, faintest, “still small voice” prompting you to consider it, then go!

Get thee to a seminary.

Understand, young Catholic man, that I am not saying you need to decide this moment or even in the near future that you’re called to be a priest. That may come later, or not at all. What you need to say now is that you have a heart to serve, are willing to suffer and inquire, as you discover what great mystery of manhood God has planted in your soul. God has created you, as strong and weak, as zealous and timid, as gifted and groping as you are. If you can offer him all that, and work with him to find the better thing he can make of you, then go.

Get thee to a seminary.

Perhaps you’ve thought about it. You wonder if God is calling and how you can possibly know. You’re downright scared to ask if you can be happy as a full-blooded, lady-loving celibate man. You tell yourself that you can do so much good as a faithful layman, living a good Catholic life in a world so set against it; bringing Christ into your workplace, marketplace, neighborhood and social media sphere; and maybe marrying one of the pretty, pious young Catholic ladies who pop into your mind just when you have gotten into prayer mode at Mass. All well and good, and may you have many children to share such love and joy. But if you have a hint that for you there may be something better (yes, better!), a higher love, and if your heart is lifted as the priest elevates the host, then go.

Get thee to a seminary.

Who am I to say? What do I know? Well, I did it. I spent more than three years in the New York seminary system. Though I am now married with two children, I still say my time in “sem” was worth every minute of every day, even some very difficult days. I learned things that I would never have learned elsewhere – Thomism, metaphysics, the form and matter of the sacraments, Church history, the inside of a sacristy – and was formed into a better man than I ever would have become otherwise. After I left seminary and got married, one of my professors spoke the truth: “I hope your wife appreciates that you’re a much better man now than when you started here.” I replied, “Yes, I don’t think she would have paid any attention to the pre-seminary guy.” Now I’m not saying that a few years of priestly training will set you up for the woman of your dreams after you leave, but you never know – so go.

Get thee to a seminary.

The real point is that a daily dose of seminary will wake you from your spiritual and secular slumbers; get you thinking about the ultimate truth regarding mankind and the world at large; rip up your insides and build you back better; batter your precious self-image and whatever else you imagine yourself to be, and fling you back onto yourself as you fall into the strong and merciful arms of God. Oh yes, as a bonus, you will be scandalized by the fallible and very human faces of the men who are preparing to serve God at the altar, starting with the image that you see in your morning mirror. Best of all, you will learn to pray. The daily rhythm of the Divine Office, the well-appointed “hours,” will become part of your metabolism. You will imbibe the Psalms with your morning coffee. You will snicker with 50 other guys when someone starts the “Alleluia” during Lent. You will say many times a day, in and out of chapel: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.” And he will, if you let him, often at the hand of someone you would least expect, and never approach. So go.

Get thee to a seminary.

I have given versions of this message to various young men over the years, even spoken to a group of young Catholic Wall Streeters. I know a few who have gone to seminary, perhaps on my prompting. Yet the message is not new with me. It’s what I received some 30 years ago from Cardinal O’Connor, of happy memory, who wrote a column in Catholic New York much like this one: If you are a man who loves God and his Church, are single, are willing to study hard, pray without ceasing, and embark on the greatest adventure a man could undertake in this fallen world, then come and see if you will be God’s priest. What do you say?

Get thee to a seminary.