A friend called the other night - a friend who reads this blog to keep up with what's happening with me. And she asked, "Um... I don't know anything at all about how your days unfold, what you're REALLY doing at seminary." Funny - she's right. Don't get be wrong, the important stuff that's happening on a deep level often finds its way here. But, that's often a result of the "tasks" at hand. It's a fair question - that I'll try to from time to time - reflect on.
What's a typical day? There are none. I mean, we have a "typical schedule" - but what I'm coming to find out is that what's even more normal than the typical schedule is some sort of adjustment to that schedule. It was frustrating a bit for me at first - but as I began to reflect on it, I realized it was good practice, good formation, for the life of a priest; whether the seminary does that on purpose or not is almost irrelevant.
Classes around here are four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. The normal schedule for class days goes like this: Breakfast @ 7, Morning Prayer @ 8, Class @ 8:30, Class @ 10, Mass @ 11:30, lunch after mass. We don't have afternoon classes during our first year, but starting next year some of our classes may be in the afternoons.
Evenings are sorta' scheduled like that. Evening prayer is at 5 throughout the community for the most part, though we only pray with the whole community one night a week. There are meetings galore - not all of them optional - and they eat some time. And, of course, there is the studying that needs to be done.
Wednesdays aren't "Free Days", though it may appear so. Wednesdays are time reserved for pastoral formation, celibacy formation, rectors conferences, colloquies, and things like that. The schedule isn't usually as booked on Wednesdays as other days, but they're full nonetheless.
Gee - you're probably thinking - that's a pretty light schedule. How is it that seminarians always seem so busy (having a hard time staying current on correspondence, always talking about all the work they have to do, never seeming to have a moment's time at all)? It was a mystery for me, even in the first couple of weeks I was here. Gosh, I thought, this is going to be cake. Um.... I was wrong.
The only way I know to tell you how the time gets used is to list the things that I, for my formation, try to accomplish on top of the scheduled things above on a regular basis:
* Spiritual direction (1 hour every two weeks)
* Spiritual reading/reflection (1 hour each day)
* Work out at the Gym (1 hour twice each week) - I try, this doesn't always happen.
* Journal on "where I am" spiritually, in formation, and discernment (1 hour twice each week)
* Correspond with a priest of our diocese (1 each week)
* Correspond with a brother seminarian from the diocese (1 each week)
* Pray Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet (1 each day)
* Holy Hour (prayer before the blessed sacrament) (2 times each week)
OK, these are just the "seminarian" things I try to do. My list also includes things that are important to me, and that I feel I need to do so that I don't become too unbalanced or burned out of unable to focus. For example, I try to talk to my family/friends on the phone at least twice a week. I try to spend time in some creative enterprise at least a couple of hours each week - right now I'm trying out the prayerful painting of icons (called "writing"), I'm also trying to work with a brother seminarian here who has an interest and talent in making vestments to learn to do - and enjoy - that. And as strange as it sounds, I make a "plan" to spend at least two evenings a week just hanging out with my brother seminarians. If I don't plan that, it won't happen. A lot like planning to post on this blog, and even planning time in my week to - literally - do nothing.
Every day I look at what needs to be accomplished - for school, for my spiritual formation, for my sanity... and I pray, "Lord - my plate is full. Thank you for the amazing opportunity to be here, in this place, undergoing this formation. Please help me to remember that this is NOTHING without You, that I can't be a good seminarian - no less a good priest one day - apart from You and the relationship we share. I want to overflow with your love, not overflow with activity. Give me the grace of perspective I so desperately need." With varying degrees of success, driven by how much I surrender each moment to Him, it comes together nicely.
So...anyway... in case you were wondering, that's what's going on with my days and my time.