The road to priesthood is not an easy track. First of all, a prospective priest goes to a seminary, which is like a college or school for priests. Once inside, they will be considered as seminarians. Being in the seminary is not that different from being in any college course. They will still mainly study the same things. However, a seminarian’s study load will have an entirely different focus, just as an engineering student has to learn more about algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and the physical sciences, and the medical students deal more with anatomy, zoology, and the different branches of medicine. For a seminarian, their studies will have to deal more with their human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral development.
Though it is still a vocation, seminary life also has an academic side to it. As such, it will involve a lot of reading. The reading materials available to seminarians are numerous. These books may range from the simpler and more general forms like that of histories, classical novels, and other introductory Theology books. Gradually, as they advance to higher grades, they might find a need to study the Holy Scriptures, liturgical theologies, moral theologies, etc. As such, books that are more specific and geared to the priesthood will be their main focus. Books like the Catholic Priesthood Book by Bevil Bramwell, as well as other books that help understand and translate scripture, will be indispensable in their studies.
Dimension of Seminary Life
Human, spiritual, academic, and pastoral formations, these are the dimensions that make seminary life different from other vocations. Thus, seminary life would mostly revolve around these aspects. All of these dimensions are prepared in order to make the seminarian ready and well-equipped as a servant of God before the Rite of Ordination.
In the development of the human dimension, a seminarian will be able to understand his strengths and weaknesses. The development of the human dimension encourages the priest to be self-aware, and as such, they need to grow into mature and well-balanced men. This development in the human dimension is very much crucial as a priest are expected to meet and relate to people from all walks of life. Seminarians, therefore, need to be sensitive, patient, responsible, and organized in order to be excellent priests when the time comes, and excellent priests do not only need to balance work and life. They need to balance work, life, and prayer.
By nature, priesthood is a spiritual discipline, and as such, seminarians must learn to be in touch with their spiritual sense. Of course, the focus for this spiritually would be an enhancement of his relationship with Jesus Christ. As such, seminary life for the seminarian will involve learning a lot of traditions and prayers. The seminary will teach the seminarian how to act as well as live in a manner that reflects the teaching of God. In order to achieve this, each seminarian will have their own spiritual director. This spiritual director will guide their spiritual growth by helping them explore matters relating to the soul, God, and faith.
In a way, priests are teachers too. Since the work of a priest brings them close to many people, then it is essential that when they learn a lot of things while they are still seminarians. Seminarians may study wide ranging topics that touch on philosophy, theology, and scripture as well as other humanities. They will also need to become experts in liturgical and moral theologies, the sacraments as well as the canon law. The study of ancient languages such as Hebrew and Latin is also needed as these languages relate mostly to the beginnings of the Roman Catholic faith. Latin is notably relevant as a lot of terms, as well as rituals, have Latin roots and origin. Knowledge in these departments not only allows the seminarian to develop mentally but it also allows them to relate the teachings of the faith to a broader audience.
The primary work of a priest involves leading the flock of faithful to follow the teachings of Jesus. Being well versed in the scriptures can only get them so far. For priests to be effective leaders, they will need to gain a lot of experience. Seminary provides just that for the seminarians. The seminary allows the seminarians to train their pastoral skills by assigning them to specific ministries. These ministries will include teaching, visiting the sick, or serving the poor. These ministries will bring the seminarian to parishes, hospitals, and schools where they will learn how to adapt to different situations.