Wednesday, Aug. 17th 2016

Inside Scoop: Letting go of “Plan B”

This obstacle is typically tough for most seminarians to overcome. In some ways, it is nearly impossible to let go of the idea of a Plan B entirely altogether, but there are things a seminarian can do to not let this temptation hinder growth within the formation process.

We all come to seminary from different places. Some of us enter with a lot of zeal and motivation for the mission. Others may come with with a lot of uncertainty, or even reluctance, and may feel called to at least check it out and see what the seminary is all about. No matter where you’re at, you need to try at least to let go of Plan B to be completely present to formation. This is because you, yourself, chose within your free will to enter the seminary. You voluntarily chose to let go of your other options for the time being. Therefore, since you chose the seminary, you chose to give the seminary your full and undivided attention, and willingly, you chose to be open to what seminary formation has to offer.

This might seem easier said than done.  Some of us come to seminary leaving a lot behind (not always the case). Some of us have already acquired a college degree or time in the workforce. Others may have had to shut down a long list of universities begging for their entrance fees. And even in some cases, some may have had to forego a relationship to make a conscious choice to discern a priestly vocation. Whatever category you may fall into, you need to realize that for at least your first year in the seminary, you need to let go of all your past plans and endeavors, and even potential future ambitions unrelated to the clerical calling.

Your first year in seminary should be a time of growth, not a time of deep discernment. Much of this year requires a lot of adjustment, and if you’re spending too much time discerning before you truly know how to discern, you’re not doing the formation system justice. Take the time in your first year to learn how to pray. Within the seminary, you’re going to have more time available to pray than the average parish priest. Be sure to take advantage of this, and learn how to pray effectively. Also within the seminary, you will have the most Catholic community and support ever offered within your life. Don’t let this go to waste; realize what’s available to you. Also, you will be asked to study a great deal; look at this as if it’s your job. For you to be effective in all these areas, you need to be present.

Be patient with yourself within year one. You’re not going to get it all down right away, and the truth is we never get it down completely. Just do your best to sort your priorities out, to realize your mission, and to be available to the community. This, of course, requires some sacrifices, and you may need to distance yourself from distractions. But if you work at it, you’ll be in good shape at least for the first year. Just think, if you give it your all, you won’t look back at your years in seminary with regret, whether you go on to be a priest or not.

If a seminarian spends too much time idealizing and romanticizing over their Plan B, whether it’s that one girl they left behind or that one job they could have secured, they’re going to miss out on many of the opportunities mentioned above that seminary formation has to offer. Be present in the moment; don’t dwell on the past or be preoccupied with the future. And if you had a particularly sinful past, don’t glorify your past sinfulness or your old self. Look forward to the new man you are to become.

“And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” -Ephesians 4:24

eruddEric Rudd will be a senior at Conception Seminary College this year, studying for the Diocese of Green Bay in Wisconsin.

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