(As a quick foreword I would like to quickly explain two terms so this article makes sense to all. It was first published in a seminary newsletter. A seminary is a place where future priests are trained. A seminarian is a man becoming a future priest. This reflection is written about a bunch of seminarians living in community.)
We’re all either half-dead or rowdy. You cannot find any in between. If you come to a seminary looking for a collection of saints who shuffle silently down dimly lit hallways keeping their thoughts eternally towards the blessed things of heaven, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you come searching for a group men who are secretly hoping that lunch will break out into a food fight, suddenly the dart flies closer to its mark!
Many of my brothers will cringe at this explanation of the average seminarian, and that is because it’s false. Truly, every great explanation falls short of its mark. I would not be lying however, if I told you that I have spent more time looking for my own possessions hidden in my own room than riding a wave of celestial bliss.
The fact is I could not be more happy to see such a building of miscreants and trouble makers, for they will be the future of the Church, God’s Church. Truthfully, when I gaze at them, I see the apostles. The impetuous, the zealous (and not always in the good way), the crazy, the tired, the confused and my heart swells with appreciation. It seems like it could have been just yesterday that Jesus was yelling, “Get behind me satan!” to some absent minded seminarian.
You may be inclined at this point to address the fact that I excluded one of my initial extremes: the half-dead. Seeing as how I detest zombie references in any form, please do not mistake me here. Seminaries house introverts just as much as extroverts and this one-sided article exists because I happen to end up most often in the “too much energy” category. They too are a necessary foundation of Church life.
It would seem that their mission in life is to atone for all the impatience and brashness of the rowdies, but I know that this isn’t exactly true either. These sleep-walkers bring an essential element of calmness, order, or just perhaps someone who knows how to use the brakes on the car. Even though, they often get the short straw. It’s Peter in all his faults that steals the highlight reel of the Gospel, much as it is in life in general. It is true that the kid who bashes the pot lid the loudest get the quickest scolding from mom, but that doesn’t mean all them other munchkins aren’t deserving of her attention!
How should a good Catholic like myself get away with praising extremes? Fact is I won’t. Virtue still lies in the middle way, and I don’t care who gets blisters getting there, that’s where we’re headed. God put us together in this great factory of holy men so that the wily could prod the lazy, and the quiet could shush the obnoxious. Each man here suffers a fatal flaw, or two, or three. Likewise, I have seen beauty in the actions of these men that surpasses any I have ever seen to date. I could not be more proud, disappointed, excited, and just plain fed up with this process. It shows me my faults, it brings me in need to prayer before our blessed Lord. What better place could there be for a bunch of sinners?
This seminary is not full of saints. Thank God! It’s full of real men who struggle for something that is greater, who strive to know God’s will. If that isn’t what we’re doing I hope someone or something gives us a good wallop in the chin and knocks some sense to where it belongs. Self proclaimed saints don’t exist except in fantasy. Apostles, screw-ups, strugglers, they were the leaders of the Church, they are the leaders of the Church, and they will be the leaders of the Church.
God bless em’ all!