What is it like to live within the walls of a seminary? Let us follow a day in the life of a seminarian.
At 6:00am the bell is rung which breaks the great silence of the night. The seminarian begins the day with the morning prayers. After washing up, he descends to the chapel - vesting with the surplice signifies “putting on the new man” as says St. Paul.
At 6:30am, Prime, part of the Divine Office or prayer of the Church, is sung. After 25 minutes of meditation, the Angelus is led by the Rector.
Mass, the center of seminary life, follows: a low Mass on weekdays, and a High Mass on Sundays and feast days.
After a silent breakfast, the seminarians have various duties before the first class at 9am. There are five class periods throughout the day, three in the morning and two in the afternoon. The entrance year, nicknamed year zero, allows the students to even out their general formation, including things as varied as history and literature, Latin and music, discipline and humbling manual labor.
The following year, when the seminarians receive the cassock, was dear to Archbishop Lefebvre. It is the year of spirituality, a kind of clerical novitiate, the purpose of which is to establish a solid spiritual life.
The two next years are dedicated to philosophy, according to the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, whom St. Pius X called the antidote to modernism.
For the last three years, the cleric studies moral theology, the science of the confessional, and dogmatic theology, to gain a deeper understanding of the mysteries of our faith.
The last morning classes over, Sext, another part of the Divine Office, is recited in common. The seminarians then go to the refectory for lunch. After grace, a short text from the New Testament is recited in Latin, followed by a longer reading from a selected book. On weekdays, 20 minutes of the lunch period is spent in silence.
During recreation, a variety of games and exercises are available: volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and in the winter, ice hockey and tobogganing.
Before the afternoon classes, there is time for a brief visit to the Blessed Sacrament. This time is appropriately used by those in major orders for the recitation of the breviary.
Three times a week in the afternoon, the first years are assigned manual labor. They can be asked to do any job that needs addressing.
The afternoon is ideal for class study. Silence is very necessary during study time, since the priests must be wise as well as holy. Hence, the space assigned to the library is exceeded only by that of the chapel. 30,000 books provide access to 20 centuries of the Church treasures.
Once a week, the seminarians go to their spiritual director for confession and spiritual direction.
At 6:30pm every day, a spiritual conference is given, followed by a prayer time during which the seminarians pray for the Friends and Benefactors of the Society. On Thursday and Sunday, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament takes the place of the Rosary. Evening meal and recreation follow suit.
The seminary day ends as it began. Compline, the night prayer of the Church is sung, closing appropriately the day with a Marian antiphon before entering the great silence.