Sunday, November 1, 2009

Training to be Saints in Korea

Today is All Saints' Day, a time to think of all those who have run the race, finished the course with a life well lived. The Catholic Peace Weekly had an interview this week with the president of the Incheon Seminary on the program being followed at the seminary. In my words: he wants to make saints out of the seminarians.

He mentioned that the Holy Father has given us the "Year of the Priest" that started on June 19, of this year to encourage "spiritual perfection" in priests. The priesthood is being threatened by secularism and values that undermine the identity of the priesthood itself, calling for the strengthening of the formation program of the seminarians.

The president feels that theological studies, the requirements of culture in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge are important, but the target of the education is: "maturity in the spiritual life". "We are attempting to help the seminarians cultivate a life of the spirit."

"There is little that we can brag about compared to other seminaries, but we have brought into the seminary the Charismatic Retreat, the Focolare Movement, the retreat of the Heart of Jesus, and other movements, giving the seminarians a varied choice of spiritual possibilities.The seminarians are faced with many temptations and doubts against their vocation which require a strong spiritual foundation."

This is good news and hopefully the expectations of the president will see fruit. Our culture is interested in efficiency, results, competition, appearances, success, money, well being, and health, all very important, but it is not the 'all of life' or the most important part, but the discord
and the pull of the culture continues.

Is it possible to live a life without the attraction of these important values? possibly not; we can sublimate the attraction to a deeper appreciation of why we want those important values and discern what we truly desire and need.
The seminarians like all of us will be bombarded with these values and often make them their own but with a good foundation in spirituality these external elements will give way to the inner ones. Heroic virtue is not easily achieved but what the seminary has in mind is to have the seminarians conscious that it is God's work; we can be open to the graces which will work against these attractions to a life of virtue and maturity.

What is necessary to be a Saint? St. Thomas said: "to will it." It is God's work but we have to put ourselves in the position to receive the help. The Seminarians in the Incheon Seminary are shown that this desire for holiness is considered primary in the education of our future priests and asking the seminarians to "will it."