I am struggling in Seminary & Religious Life

Dear Friends,

I used to login quite a bit to this site but haven’t done so in some time now. I have come to ask for prayers and maybe for some consolation, I don’t know, but I find myself writing this post.

To cut a very long story short I am studying in a Seminary in Spain and I am a Postulant in a Religious Order, my formation in the Order and my Seminary studies are separate. I am very happy in the Friary, I don’t claim to be extra Holy or anything of the sort but the Friars are so good to me and I am having a wonderful experience with them…however every day I go to Seminary and it is making me very sad- I like all my class mates, many of the professors are kind- however the academic level is just far above me- I am able to speak Spanish but I am just not able to cope with the full curriculum of study at the seminary, this year there are 13 subjects including Latin and Greek (which is all very complicated grammar) and I am just lost in almost every single class. I find myself unable to truly focus as I just cannot balance all these subjects and I am lost in them.

Before I entered I tried very hard to be a good Catholic, thinking of a religious Vocation I went to daily Mass, always prayed the Rosary and I even ran a Rosary Group etc. however I now live in a house where Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and I find I have almost never been to visit him outside of official prayers (neither do any of the friars) and I no longer pray as much as I used to. The daily offices mean nothing to me, it seems to me just words and then getting lost and confused by the pages and turning over and turning back (those who know the offices will maybe get what I mean)- I can’t say it does anything for me and I can honestly say I don’t get anything out of it at all.

I always wanted to be a Priest- from whence I was a little boy but now I am here and “on the path” I just don’t know, I am not saying I want to leave (although it has crossed my mind), but I am finding it so hard to cope with all the studies as well as life in a Religious Order and everything being in another language. I know some will say “just leave and find an Order in your own country” that is not the solution and I won’t appreciate that from anyone. Maybe I am not trying hard enough- I am praying to St. John Vianney and Blessed Diego de Cadiz who both struggled with the studies. The thing is though I have spoken to my superiors about this who tell me to be at ease because the Order and the studies are separate, my taking vows has nothing to do with my studies and even if I fail everything they will still allow me to continue to make my vows- however it brings me no consolation as my mind is lost in all is and not at rest. I am not being negative but I think it is pretty much a given fact that I will fail and I don’t want to spend the next 6 years of my life unhappy in very difficult and non enjoyable studies. I feel less closer to God here than I did at home. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if these are temptations are what but I am fed up by it all. If this is the Religious Life then maybe I don’t want it- I know that is a sad thing to say but I am truly brought to that. The thing is I have never thought of anything else and if I leave I just don’t know what I can do in my life, I don’t want to leave but that is the conclusion my mind is jumping to—are these temptations? My Confessor just tells me to go on and if I fail I fail- but I am not eased by that.

Invoke the intercession of St. Solanus Casey, friend.
Read his story and take heart. If God has called you to seminary. He has a plan.
Peace friend, good to see you on the boards again.

Thanks! I had never heard of the Saint. I just looked him up. It seems sad that he was never allowed to hear Confessions- I find that very sad because very often such men are the greatest Confessors, however, I am going to start praying to him today. I am grateful to you for telling me about him! Thanks.

The best part of his story is that while not excellent at the coursework…they found he was beloved by everyone in the parishes he worked in and the monastery…because he could talk to anyone! He cold give solid advice. He was encouraging in prayer. He was THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHIRST. He was , in a way, the greatest advisor and confessor around. He People would stand in line fro hours to just to get to hear him offer a small piece of advice that they felt changed their outlook, gave them hope, and in many cases, changed their lives.
Everyone has a piece to contribute. You never know where Jesus is leading you. Be diligent and work hard. By your fruits they will know you.

Yes…but he was a “Simplex Priest”, he was never allowed to hear Confessions- because he was Ordained only to say Mass, he Bishop didn’t allow him to hear Confessions. According to what I have read about him so far.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You are being given excellent advice. Move forward. And if you fail, you fail.

The actions you are taking – classes, prayers, obedience, etc. – are all ways in which one tests his/her vocation.

I was in a contemplative Benedictine monastery for just over two years. It took over a year before the Divine Office really felt like a prayer to me. I still pray parts of it because I still connect with it as a means of communicating with God.

Keep talking with your superiors. Keep doing your best on your studies. Take them one subject at a time as your do your work. If God grants you success, thank Him for His miraculous gift. If God allows you to fail, thank Him for His grace to endure the humiliation.

Yes, you should stick it out for now. I assume you pursued religious life for God’s pleasure and the fulfillment of His will. If He wills that you struggle through years of study, He will also give you the grace to endure it. Surrender and move forward.

As a single mom (my ex-husband left the marriage many years ago), I can tell you that whatever life God calls you to, there will be sacrifice, there will be struggle, their will be obstacles that seem insurmountable. But through it all, God is with us.

When I feel I cannot take another moment of pain, of struggle, of giving up my own will for the needs of my son or students – I pray for those who have no children, who have no hope of medical assistance in their illness or injury, who have no hope of eternal life with Christ. I have found remembering my blessings makes a world of difference!

I will pray for you, dear one. Keep us in your prayers as well!

Praying for you. Can you go part time or get a tutor? Go to school in the summer? You obviously have a vocation to that order. Remember St. John Vianney struggled in school and was a brilliant confessor. God bless you.

SO? **“Only to say Mass???” **There’s no “I’m holier than you” in heaven. SO long as we get there and we serve the Lord well.
The man is a declared SAINT> I think he turned out just fine. NO limitations that I can see…

I often wonder why the Church doesn’t release ebook versions of her liturgies, like the Sacramentary and the Divine Office. Fortunately, there’s an app for that: iBreviary.

Anyway, such an app would only help with the aggravating page flipping, even after mastering it, but not with the tediousness. I can certainly relate to that for, after praying the main hours of the office for over half a decade, I became disgusted by it and could not even open the up or pick up the breviary. Instead of praying the office to praise God, I just mechanically recited or chanted it, even for aesthetic pride. I highly suspect that He was not pleased with it, not so much for His sake, but for my spiritual sake, withdrawing His grace to pray the office. After all, especially about praying, the initiative is always His.

I wonder if the democratic reform to do away with the division between choir and lay religious is what hinders your growing in religious life. Some orders still have such division though (e.g., carmelitemonks.org). Though it was a division that was abused in the past to reflect secular classes (what wasn’t ever abused?), clearly not everyone is called to a life of studies, but grow to the heights of Heaven among the tools in the shed or the pans in the kitchen (e.g., Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, OCarm). And perhaps this is what your superiors are hinting at you by not conditioning profession with academic success.

I am not in your shows (habit?), but the best that I can say, from very afar, is to trust your superiors and especially theirs, our very Lord. For the time being, just show up and do your best, even if it falls short of what you or they expect.

Pax Christi

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength, fortitude & wisdom in your discernment.

:amen::blessyou:

Keep praying and trying to discern God’s will for you, but for now I think you need to listen to your superiors when they give you advice…after all, they are God’s mouthpiece to you. I will keep you in my prayers. God bless.

Continuing prayers…

Just to inform you all I have been given some time to go home to my family and think about things. Thanks for all! I will be going back to England in a few days!

Is there anyone you can talk to at the seminary about this?..maybe they could give you some extra help with the academic side etc until you catch up and feel more able to cope…praying for you to have all the help you need… and thank you on behalf of everyone for making the journey to become a priest…the world needs priests!!!

God bless you

Crystal waters

How exactly are 13 subjects being taught at the same time?:eek:
Regardless if the method of teaching is in Spanish, English, or Swahili, that seems rather excessive. The most I ever did (or for that matter, heard of) was 6. Especially on the languages. Learning 2 languages at the same time, while it can be done, is not for the uninitiated (e.g. those not absolutely familiar with the 5 parts of a Greek/Latin verb, etc.)

I know exactly what you mean, having been to a house where chapel etiquette was not followed (or, for that matter, heard of). While I realize you’re not experiencing that, it was a similar feeling of “I’m getting nothing out of something I once did, and quite frankly should get something out of.” To be honest, the desolation of “not getting anything out of it” was, in fact, exactly what I was getting out of it. Your mileage may vary, and this is something to bring up in spiritual direction, but my personal view is that perhaps the lack of presence is exactly what you’re supposed to receive, as an impetus to animate you towards something else.

Out of curiosity, why? Given the line immediately before that, it almost seems that you’re suggesting it yourself.

I think they’re looking at it in a very “pure” way: regardless of whether or not the priesthood shakes out, academically, it should not (if joining a religious community for the right reasons - i.e. you’ve found that their particular charism animates you) change whether or not to stay with the community. Ultimately, religious life is ordered towards self perfection, whether one does that as a member of the clergy or not is accidental (or secondary) to that.

while many of us (especially within the Capuchins) would love for Fr. Solanus to be canonized - we are still in the waiting pattern :thumbsup:

But yes - Fr. Solanus has an inspiring life, his motto - to ‘thank God ahead of time’ is a good constant reminder for us going thru formation.

Another thing we’ve forgotten to mention about Venerable Solanus Casey, is that he was also required to spend his studies in a foreign language! A wonderful intercessor for you!

This may be a stupid question but seminarians are still required to learn Latin and Greek?

Forgive my ignorance.

Would it be possible for you to take a year off and master Spanish on an academic level that will allow you to finish with a better understanding? Is there a major reason that you have chosen to complete your studies in a country where English is not the main language used in education? I think the majority of us would understand your situation if we knew why you are not interested in studying in the USA, Canada, the UK or Australia where language isn’t a problem. I taught at-risk high school kids for 35 years and learning in their non-native language is always a huge obstacle, especially as the content of the curriculum became increasingly more difficult. I’m praying for you.:rolleyes:

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