Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Classes and Other Fun

The challenges and opportunities of being disciples of Jesus Christ ended my last (as well as first!) contribution to this blog. Discipleship is founded on prayer. And, certainly the structure of a seminarian’s day makes prayer easier than it might be for other folks. After all, prayer is part of our job!

There are other dimensions of the seminarian experience. In Church-speak, these dimensions are often referred to as the “four pillars”: intellectual; human; spiritual; and pastoral.

A note or two on the “intellectual formation pillar.” At its most basic level, intellectual formation occurs in the classroom. One thing most people know about seminarians is that we go to class, hopefully regularly and with acceptable grades (!!!). The content and types of classes taken by all seminarians are governed by national norms. These norms serve to provide some assurance that all seminarians are being exposed to the same type of material.

This semester I am taking courses which focus upon subjects such as preaching; the “how to’s” of spiritual direction; canon law and marriage; and the spirituality of priesthood. This is pretty typical for guys at my point in their seminarian experience. Having grinded through philosophy and other more “head-y” subjects, the time has finally arrived for more “hands on” (applied) coursework.

Space does not permit me to explain all that I think I’ve learned in my classes. However, these lessons are certain. One, avoid lunches high in carbohydrates and sugar taken prior to “heavy” courses in the afternoons. Two, there IS a reason why every course is required---even if it is not readily apparent to (you or me as) seminarians! And, three, folks back home expect even seminarians to know a little something about theology---the key remains in our ability to relate the same to common human experiences.

Outside-class reading---conversations with folks within as well as outside the seminary community---and keeping up with developments in the larger world---are all important to the intellectual formation of seminarians. I try to engage in all of them---and to avoid big meals before my Friday afternoon classes! Next up: what else do seminarians do besides pray and study?

Until then…..


Steven Henriksen

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