I want to lead a more disciplined life. I want my life before seminary, which I will be applying to within this year, to be centered on spiritual growth. I want to live more austerely. Please offer suggestions. God Bless!
Brycehecht, I am very glad to hear about your discernment. Are you a senior in high school?
Anyways, I have a few recommendations for you:
LOTH (if possible; Morning and Night is good)
Daily Mass (hard if you don’t attend a Catholic school; it is alright if you cannot)
Prayer before meals
Act of Contrition before bed
Also, live a life of practicing good morals. Respect and honor your parents on a daily basis. Make sure you complete all of your duties around the house.
Finally, make sure on top of all of this, you are active in the sacramental life of the Church. Penance should be frequent (monthly would be fine, but more is great). I already mentioned Mass and Eucharist so that is good.
Read up on the Bible
Begin understanding theology Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed could help.
Learn some basic Church history How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods PhD is a good one to read.
Bryce I don’t doubt that you will have many good thoughts, and wise advice, regarding the first part of Jesus’ command to love God above all, so my suggestion would be for the second part regarding loving other people.
Few things are more ‘austere’, few more difficult, than to give practical kindness and help, respect and consideration to others. It can sometimes be easier to spend an hour in needful spiritual pursuits, than is reacting to someone’s thoughtlessness in kindness or in helping others when we don’t feel like it, or listening, or even smiling and numerous other things that are blessing to others. In addition to religious occupations, perhaps the hardest discipline is to willingly and cheerfully consider and serve others. The importance of doing so is evident in Jesus criteria for judging souls in His description of the judgement in Matthew 25 verses 31-46.
“But” was written by a Divine Word Missionary, inspiring us to love of others, even in the smallest gestures of human kindness.
It was only a sunny smile,
And little it cost in the giving;
But it scattered the night
Like morning light,
And made the day worth living.
Through life’s dark warp a woof it wove
In shining colours of hope and love;
And the angels smiled as they watched above,
Yet little it cost in the giving.
It was only a kindly word, a word that was lightly spoken;
But not in vain,
For it stilled the pain
Of a heart that was nearly broken
It strengthened a faith beset with fears,
And groping blindly through mists of tears,
For light to brighten the coming years,
Although it was lightly spoken.
It was only a helping hand
And it seemed of little availing;
But its clasp was warm,
And it saved from harm
A brother whose strength was failing.
Its touch was tender as angels’ wings
But it rolled the stone from the hidden springs
And pointed the way to higher things,
Though it seemed of little availing.
My prayer for you and others who respond to God’s call:
Heavenly Father, for love of Jesus, please give wisdom and unconditional love to those who respond to Your call to devote themselves to serve others. Grant them numerous occasions of grace and growth in human wholeness. Let them learn that each person is Your favourite, and that You work out our salvation within our actual selves in the ordinary framework of our lives.
Let moments of grace and trial lead them from selfishness to God’s unconditional love of others. Let doubt, boredom and difficulty trigger renewed inspiration to love You and others in realistic humility and optimism.
Help them to cope wisely with their own personality and needs in the face of weariness or stress, or in confronting others’ crises and emotional outbursts. Help them to deal with misunderstanding, cynicism, and failure despite their careful tending and generosity.
Prepare them to contend astutely with attempts to manipulate and seduce them to worldliness, error, or sin.
Habituate them to acknowledge the goodness and beauty of others while compassionately recognizing flaws that may need guidance and prayer to overcome.
Grant that anyone assisting in formation of Your chosen ones will seek the Spirit’s guidance and wisdom rather than to impose their own opinions and preferences. Let Your ministers be instructed according to the correct entirety of ecclesiastical and divine revelation, receiving it with obedience, yet intelligent openness that allows questioning of those restrictions that Jesus Himself would loose. Where formation is deficient or misguided, others’ souls will also be deprived of right counsel.
Foster fraternity amongst Your chosen ones, our God, so that they witness the gospel love of unity and mutual service. Let no one regard their spiritual formation as complete when they are professed, ordained, or experienced, but let them seek continual conversion. Let Your love constitute their continuing formation in human wholeness and witness.
If You appear to favour those You call to priesthood more than you favour others, it is because You choose them in order more richly to serve others. Let them never betray this commission, or fail to revive it, but continue to grow in love and witness of Jesus to others.
In calling them to serve as priests, You have entrusted to them the guidance of souls in the Truth and the Sacraments of healing and grace. Let them never betray this commission, or fail to revive it, but continue to grow in love and witness of Jesus to others.
God bless, Trishie
Thanks, that is some important stuff I left out. Reading some good Catholic books is highly encouraged.
Austerity? Well, to go through your things and begin pitching what you haven’t used in 5 years…then 3 years. Donate that to somebody who needs that.
Preparation for the seminary, though, one thing would be good I think would be to develop friendships within your same gender. This will all help you later on when you get times you are tempted. This is very important as a young person, especially, but even if one were older.
As to reading material, I haven’t read it yet, but I heard “Theology of the Body” would be good, but I heard it’s a tough read. I was encouraged to get an easier version of it.
Also, it’s good to have a copy of “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” on hand, as a reference book.
You could try getting some form of volunteer work, as well, in something you really like.
Get a spiritual director. The best place to start the search would be with the vocation’s office in your diocese.
At least a few chapters of scripture, morning and night.
Rosary, morning and night.
At least 20-30 minutes of prayer near the Blessed Sacrament, whether you can find adoration or just an open church where you can pray near the tabernacle.
Read the Baltimore Catechism, no. 3; great, clear teaching of catholic doctrine and fun to read (ISBN 9780895551467)
Just my two cents. It works for me. There are so many things one could do.
May God bless you and guide you as you seek his will!
I spent many (possibly too many) years on the “vocations circuit” prior to (finally) entering the seminary a couple of years ago. Based on my experiences and encounters during that time and since then (as well as what others have told me) I think a lot of seminary applicants feel a need to become “more holy” prior to entering the seminary. To put it another way, they don’t feel that they’re “holy enough” for the priesthood. A nun I know who’s a member of a seminary cloistered order, gave me some good advice last year that I think is worth repeating: “don’t be too holy.”
Obviously, a regular prayer / spiritual life is essential part of any seminary application but at the same time seminary formation is also intended to develop your prayer life. The same also goes for theological knowledge - having something to build on does help but at the same time, that’s what formation is for.
I think what I would recommend is becoming (more) involved with your parish / community more than anything else. Involvement in parish groups can be really useful experience but even just being a reader can be beneficial. I’d suggest that you talk to you parish priest about what you can get involved with in the time available to you. You might even ask if you could shadow him for a week.
Study Book of Proverbs. Ignatius offers a study book by Scott Hahn amd Curtis Mitch.
There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, one chapter for each day of the month.
Keep in mind that Jesus studied the Proverbs when he was your age (Luke 2:52).
Proverbs is all about a disciplined life.
I would practice little acts of denial often as you can. For instance, if you like drinking OJ with breakfast, drink water, or drink something you don’t like. Don’t take seconds. Don’t complain about labor or when someone wrongs you. Have a special focus on this on Fridays. The priesthood comes with a lot of self-denial, so it is good to start now.
A lot of the suggestions are good but a spiritual director will help you figure out what’s right for you.