Am I called to enter the seminary?
Things to Consider
Your time is spent well if you are trying to listen for the voice of God as you discern your personal vocation. You may be looking for a great sign from God that priesthood is definitely what He has in mind for you. But God works in strange and mysterious ways. He has already told us in the Scriptures that “My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts.” God often leads us in subtle ways and through mysterious signs. While we may want more clarity, God gently leads us in ways that are imperceptible. Who can truly discern matters of the heart? A man who thinks God might be calling him to be a priest should consider seminary. The seminary is the best place to truly discern God’s Will for your vocation.
The decision to enter the seminary is not a final decision to become a priest! Nevertheless, the seminary is equipped with the personnel and tools necessary to clarify and deepen your discernment of God’s Will. First and foremost, the seminary will give you the time necessary to decide if priesthood is your true vocation in life. It is a good testing ground.
For men who have graduated high school, seminary lasts for eight years. For those who graduated from college, a pre-theology program can last from one to two years, depending upon the needs of a particular candidate. Following a pre-theology program, a young man will spend another four years studying graduate theology leading to a Masters degree in Divinity. The aim of the seminary is the formation of body, mind, and spirit. To this end, the seminarian in formation will study Catholic Theology, Sacred Scripture, Church History, Canon Law, Moral Theology, Ascetical Theology, pastoral counseling, and other subjects.
Along with these academic subjects, the seminary will continue to assess the candidate through the discernment process by prayer and spiritual direction. The seminarian will have the opportunity for daily prayer and meditation, Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, days of recollection, and yearly retreats. Each seminarian will be assigned a seminary spiritual director who will help him listen more closely for God’s voice and be led to a decision whether the priesthood is truly one’s lifelong vocation.
The seminary also provides opportunities for the building of the body through sports and recreation. The candidate will come to understand the goodness of community and fraternal support and the value of being a “team player” which are vital to living the priestly lifestyle well. Most importantly, the seminarian is expected to pray. He is taught to pray liturgically and privately. In short, the candidate is taught how to accomplish his life’s work: to become like Jesus!
Your time spent in the seminary is never wasted. If priesthood is your vocation, it will provide the foundation you need to live a truly wonderful life as God’s servant. If you discern that priesthood is not your vocation, you will have received an excellent education and formation, and then continue as a more faithful Christian to discern where God is calling you.
“Thou Art a Priest Forever”