Being in the Seminary is an interesting experience.
As our Formation Director often says, it’s a bit like a fishbowl: you’re contained in this tiny space where every thing in your life is magnified. It also gives a unique view of the Church.
Most Catholics (or Christians) have things ‘apart’ from the faith in their lives. I know our faith permeates everything; I mean that they have places where they must bring Christ, places where Christ is usually not explicit. But for the Seminarian (and the Priest), almost every aspect of our life is explicitly Christ-centred.
I’m not saying this is bad! It’s a wonderful way to grow. I find it brings to the fore the tension in our lives which Paul speaks of in Galatians 5:
For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
I’ve come to see more clearly (painfully so!) how often my personal desires (‘flesh’) differ from God’s will for me(‘Spirit’). My personal desires usually aren’t evil, they’re just… lacking. Rather than focused outwardly, I find they are focused on myself – what I want, how I feel. And being in this ‘fishbowl’ shows just how often my Flesh is distracting me from what’s truly important:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
– Matthew 22:36-40