After a seminarian from the diocese of Richmond sent us a note giving feedback on our blog, we asked him for an interview, to see what he had to say about the path to priesthood, as well as some general pieces of advice for Catholic Teenagers. Without further ado, here is the interview, enjoy! (Continued… Pt.2)
Maddie Catherine– Do you have any favorite spiritual experience that you would like to share?
The Seminarian– I think my most significant spiritual experience would be my re-conversion, which happened halfway through college. I was helping out at the time with my youth group’s trip to the Steubenville Atlanta youth conference in Summer 2011; these events are centered around Eucharistic Adoration, so during the first night, everyone comes together in the main arena for praise-and-worship and a Eucharistic procession. At that point in my life, I had been engaged in Catholic activities for a few years, but my heart wasn’t in it – it was just something else I did on the weekends, and a lot of habits of sin and addictions had crept into my life without my knowing or caring.
As Adoration was going on, a lot of people around me had very emotional reactions; a few people were crying, and virtually everyone was watching themonstrance with rapt attention. I didn’t get what was going on, though – my heart-felt like nothing so much as a cold, dead rock. In fact, it started to make me nervous, because either literally everyone else in the room was crazy, or there was something wrong with me. Finally, there was a lull in the music and noise, so I did something very bold: I looked straight at Our Lord in themonstrance, and I said very deliberately in my mind, “God, I know that’s supposed to be you. If you’re really there . . . I need to know.”
A couple seconds passed, with everyone being as quiet as a thousand teenagers in a room are able to be. And then, there was a sensation that I still have a hard time explaining. It was like an electric shock, or a wave of fire, went through me from my heart and radiated out to my fingers and my toes, and I was hit with a sudden, certain knowledge: I had really, really messed up my life . . . but I was loved. It was a painful, beautiful moment – I was crying and laughing at the same time, absolutely crushed by the realization of how much pain I had caused God, but so awestruck at how I’d completely missed the reality of Who it was that I’d been sitting idly in front of for so long.
It took a few days to process what had happened, and it began a long healing process that started the next day in Confession. After that, I felt truly free for the first time in years, and I haven’t looked back since.
Maddie Catherine– How is seminary so far?
The Seminarian– I love it! It’s challenging (I describe it a bit like going to college with 90 brothers), but in a good way. Our lives here are built around a routine of study and prayer, but we’re all normal guys, so we make sure we have time to relax and enjoy ourselves, too. Last semester, a bunch of us took a bus to a soccer tournament with another seminary, after which we all had a massive pig roast to celebrate – moments like can be just as joyful and beneficial to our lives as our “serious” time spent in class or the chapel.
Maddie Catherine– Do you have a favorite way to pray?
The Seminarian– Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m very fond of praying in Adoration! Since entering seminary, I’ve also enjoying learning about the Liturgy of the Hours, the cyclical daily prayers that form the spiritual base for religious community life and the priesthood. Finally, I’ve been very close to Mary for years, so the Rosary is also a favorite; it’s especially easy to pray when walking between classes.
Maddie Catherine– Who is your spiritual role model?
The Seminarian– I have a few of them, but my main role model is my patron saint, Therese of Liseux. It may seem odd that a cloistered nun could be a good example for a priest-in-training, but her humble trust and ordinary love for God are one of the biggest inspirations for my own prayer life.
Maddie Catherine– What is your favorite hobby and sport?
The Seminarian– I have a lot of ’em – I grew up homeschooled, so I had a lot of time to pick up weird life skills and hobbies. My favorite sport in high school was the French discipline of parkour (look it up on YouTube!), but I also did Okinawan karate for a few years, with a little rock climbing, swimming, hiking, and unicycling on the side. I also love a good book and a cup of coffee – that’s usually how I’ll start my mornings in the seminary.
Maddie Catherine– How was your blogging experience with YouCatholic.com?
The Seminarian– Lots of fun – they’re a very holy bunch of people, and fun, too! I’ll give a shout-out to our fearless leader TJ Burdick for getting that project off the ground and keeping us crazy writers in line. I used to run a website and blog of my own, but I’ve been dedicating that time to my studies and work for the Diocese of Richmond since I entered seminary.
Maddie Catherine– Is there anything else you would like to share?
The Seminarian– Trust God! He wants you to be the happiest you can possibly be, so don’t be afraid that listening to His will means giving up having a fun life. If my experience is anything to go by, it’ll be more awesome than you could possibly imagine.