Spiritual formation: Rationale
Without the trunk, the tree can bear no branches, no fruit. Without the spiritual life all other priestly formation is fruitless. Spiritual formation is both the core of priestly formation which unifies the whole of life, and the goal of priestly formation, its completion. “Spiritual formation… should be conducted in such a way that the students may learn to live in unceasing union with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” (PDV, 45).
In terms of the developmental journey of the spiritual life in the seminary, one moves from discovering one’s spiritual childhood in encountering God as “My Father” (Jn 20:17) to the experience of being a “beloved Son” (Mt 3:17) to developing the power of the “new man” (Eph 4:24) in the Holy Spirit.
The spiritual life begins with our union with Jesus Christ in baptism and progresses gradually into the experience of Christian existence under total influence of the Holy Spirit. The goal of the spiritual life is something that is constantly sought–to perceive and live in communion with the mystery of Christ throughout every moment of the day, especially in the prayerful study of God’s Word, in the sacraments, (above all in the Eucharist) and in our encounters with people. The goal of the spiritual life requires that the seminarian frequently assess his relationship with the mystery of Christ in these above mentioned areas. By the mystery of Christ we mean the power of the risen Christ to make himself known in every time and place and person in order to be in communion with us.
The seminary tries to create an ambience whereby the spirituality of the student is lived in the context of his whole life whether inside or outside the seminary. A daily Rule of Life worked out in collaboration with one’s spiritual director and rector is an essential practice of daily seminary living. Seminary life has a rhythm of prayer, study, recreation, fraternal life and apostolic life that inculcates order and balance into the seminarian’s daily and weekly routine. The daily Eucharist, Liturgical prayer, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy, Confession, Eucharistic adoration and the Way of the Cross are just some of the ways in which priestly spirituality is fostered at the seminary. Frequent spiritual direction, following up on orientation days is also a regular feature at the seminary.
On their own initiative, seminarians have also been part of a fairly regular group lectio divina (spiritual reading) exercise which meets once a week on Sundays to ponder the Word of God together. The Liturgical Calendar becomes over the years at the seminary not only the exterior order of worship but also an interior rhythm. Seminarians are encouraged in a spirit of self-sacrifice by means of dedicated time to prayer, study, generous service to the community and volunteer work.
Each year Seminarians enjoy four full days of retreat as well as days of recollection before the commencement of the school year and during the season of Lent. Penitential days in Advent and Lent are a reminder of the need for daily bodily and spiritual conversion of heart, the first command of the Gospel.
Every Sunday Seminarians take part in spiritual conferences conducted by the Rector of the seminary or the Abbot who is the Chancellor of the seminary.