Day 1 - A week in the life of a seminarian

I've been thinking lately that while I have posted plenty of moments from the seminary (fun, academic, spiritual, and other topics), I haven't really tied them all together.  I guess, I haven't given the whole picture of seminary life, just bits of it.  Thus, for the next week I am going to try and post something each day basically giving you all the run-down of what I did that day.  I'm going to try and make it interesting, so I won't include everything, but I want to give you the big picture of what seminary life is like.  Enjoy!

Monday - 9-23-13

So this morning started with my alarm blaring to life at 6:00 AM.  I immediately fumbled around for snooze and then disabled my cell phone which went off simultaneously (back up alarm).  After slowly become conscious, my alarm again came to life and this time I rolled out of bed (6:15).  I quickly dressed, shaved, and got my contacts before heading up to the chapel around 6:30.  I prayed the Office of Readings before Mass (with Morning Prayer) began at 6:45.  Unfortunately, I was pretty tired this morning because I had stayed up till midnight or so to get some studying done, so Mass wasn't as transformational as I always hope it will be.  After Mass I said a brief thanksgiving, then the tessera prayers (Legion of Mary), and then made my way down to breakfast.  Today, as I said, I was pretty tired, so I just threw a banana in with some cheerios.  I chatted with the other guys who were eating, and then headed to my room around 8:00.  I quickly checked email, but then got down to some last minute cramming for my Moral Issues exam.  

So far we have covered pretty much all the basics regarding moral theology, and basic ethical stuff.  Basically, the gist of the class has been that throughout salvation history we see God asking people to trust and follow Him, primarily through love of neighbor.  This focus, of course, doesn't change with Jesus, especially as found in the great commandment (love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love neighbor as self).  Anyway, the class had managed to extrapolate that principle into about 20 pages of notes, and 5 pages of study guide.  I hadn't filled out the study guide much, so mostly I just skimmed my notes to study for the 45 minutes or so.  Around 8:45 I quickly changed, grabbed my stuff, and charged out the door.  I intended to ride my bike to Marian today because I wasn't heading back to Bruté at the usual time (when I can catch a ride with somebody), but Cody and Ray were heading to Senior Seminar (my first class as this morning as well), so I threw my bike in the back of Cody's truck, and we sped over to campus.  I can ride over pretty quickly (5-6 minutes), but it tires me out going that fast, usually I am sweating a bit, and my legs are wobbly when I get there, so it was nice to find somebody driving over.  By the time we got there the bells (which go off 2 minutes before class were ringing), so I grabbed my bike, rode across campus from the library (where we had parked) to Marian hall (where my class was), locked my bike up in record time, and ran into class.  Ray was joking that this would be the first time I had been late to class, but actually we made if over with about 30 seconds to spare!  

In senior seminar we are going through Pope Benedict's Introduction to Christianity, and today we were examining chapter 5, in which then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger expounds on the mystery of the Trinity, how it is something that requires faith to believe - it isn't obvious, or discover-able by reason alone - and profoundly stretches the bounds of the usual philosophical principles (substance, essence, relationship, etc.) that we use to describe/examine something.  An interesting analogy that he makes is that this belief in the Trinity isn't irrational, but just exposes the limits of human knowledge, in this case limits of theology.  Just like physics can't easily explain the dual nature of light as a wave and particle, theology can't really explain how God can be both one and three.  Cool stuff!

My next class, moral issues was the one that I had the test in.  I had about 5 minutes to run through the material one more time before the professor handed out the test.  Disconcertingly, a bunch of other students were anxiously quizzing each other over their complete study guides, so that wasn't very encouraging.  Nevertheless, the test was handed out, I whizzed through the first few multiple choice (leaving a few blank on my first pass), filled out the other fill-in-the-blank answers, and then went back completing the questions I skipped.  I felt good about the first section, being pretty confident with most of my answers.  The second session, an essay, had two options, and I picked the first one about explaining that God is anti-slavery (in the largest sense of the term) using the Old Testament, the New Testament, the current pretty bad situation in Haiti, and exorbitant pay for corporate executives.  I quickly whizzed through the first few paragraphs, explaining that God is love, and that God gave us freedom of will, and that we were made in the image and likeness of God, so we should be loving to others around us, thus giving them freedom (in having a good life, and being able to freely choose the true good, God).  I talked a bit about the exodus, and then the great commandment in the New Testament, and how both are related to freedom (found in love).  I awkwardly squished something about Haiti and even less about corporate wages onto the end of the paper, filling the sheet up to the last few lines, and turned in my test.  Actually, while I was on the last paragraph, the teacher announced that we had five minutes left, so instead of finishing early (like I was hoping), I had to quick-walk over to psychology, where my next test waited.

The psychology test, composed of 50 multiple-choice questions, was a bit tougher than the previous one in that class simply because I hadn't studied as much.  I don't think I bombed it by any means, but I had several questions that I wasn't very sure on.  We'll see, I don't think it'll be too bad.

After psychology, I went with the other seminarian that is in the class with me to the cafeteria and had an interesting lunch of chili-dog with noodles on top (I wanted a chili dog, but noodles went good with the chili, so I did both), some concoction with chicken nuggets (the nuggets were good, the goop was interesting), and some chocolate pudding with pulverized oreos and a cookie.  Now, if that isn't a healthy meal, I don't know what is!  Then a few of us met at noon at the Marian shrine on campus (not to be confused with Marian hall) and prayed the rosary.  As it turns out, there are a few of us that are open between noon and one, and we decided to get together and pray the rosary during the time.  I love the bit of time that I can spend in prayer in the middle of the day, it really ties my day together, and brings me back into focus (when usually I am pretty hassled by all the classes and what-not).  It's pretty awesome!

My next class, at one, was calculus.  Today we went over higher order derivatives.  We have a test on Wednesday, so this won't be on there, but basically it entails taking the derivative of a function that you already got the derivative of.  An example:  the position function gives the position for an object.  So the function says: H = -16t2 + Vot + Ho  -- don't get confused by the symbols, H is the position for whatever numbers you plug in, t is time, Vis the velocity at the beginning, and Ho is the height at the beginning.  Now, if you want to know velocity, instead of just position, you take the derivative of this equation which turns out to be: H’ = -32t + Vo -- If I had to guess, you could care less about this math, but it turns out that you take the derivative again (H'' = -32), you now have the function for acceleration.  It's pretty cool to see the math behind all those atrocious equations from physics...

After calculus ususally my school day would be done, but today I met with Dr. Denz (the senior seminar professor) to talk about the 15 page paper that I would be working on for the end of that class.  I didn't have much of an idea on what I wanted to write, but one of the example topics he gave was a look at how philosophy changed greatly during/after the reformation.  I was intrigued because I figured history couldn't be that hard, and this is an important (and revolutionary) time in church history, and to be quite honest, most philosophy done since then seems a bit bogus (but that's just me).  Anyway, Dr. Denz was pretty enthused about the topic (I guess nobody else had picked it) and gave me a ton of ideas about how to go about it.  There is a huge book written on the topic called The Unintended Reformation by Brad Gregory, which will be my main source (and I'll have to kind of examine Gregory's argument and what-not), but then it turns out the topic is much deeper than history (I should have known).  Apparently, the great divide between medieval and modern philosophy (at least according to Gregory) is that the analogy of being is lost/eliminated/not accepted.  We have just been covering this type of stuff (analogical, univocal, and equivocal terms, and different properties/principles of being) in metaphysics, and so far my brain has just about melted every class.  I mean, it's crazy cool, mind warping stuff, but definitely requires a lot of thinking.  We'll see, I think the paper will be really cool (when it's done), and not so much fun while I'm working on it.  It will definitely force me to understand the metaphysics, that's for sure...

OK, so that meeting was a very insightful 15 minutes or so, and then I rode my bike back to Bruté and settled in for an afternoon of catching up on some reading.  I read for about 25 minutes in several different books (in an attempt to keep myself awake), before heading (at 5:15) for evening prayer.  After that, I went back over to the caf. for dinner (toasted pita bread, a bagel with peanut butter, and some fruit - yeah, I was still pretty bored today).  After dinner we had soccer practice, which was entirely composed of a scrimmage between about 10 of the guys.  It was a lot of fun, all the guys are getting pretty phenomenal at soccer (they are leaving me behind - I'm going to have to up my level of play)!  I took a quick shower afterwords and then ran up to the optional Holy Hour that began at 8:30.  An hour later, after some good prayer time, and some spiritual reading, I was spiritually refreshed.  Then I skyped my family for about 30 minutes, spent an hour writing this post (took longer than I expected) and now I'm going to bed.  

Yeah, so that was Monday, absolutely packed with things to do! I hope this kind of post doesn't bore you all completely, maybe some quirk in my rhetoric (or just a typo) will make you laugh.  I don't know...  I'll try to switch up the style a bit tomorrow - maybe focus on smaller happenings...  Anyway, good night, and God bless!

1 comment:

  1. It's good to hear about the day as it gives us some insight into what you guys are experiencing. You guys are tremendously busy and exceptionally focused so we try not to bother you. 'Creeping' on you all is sometimes our only way in. sitplmao. God bless and we are praying for and with you all.