Search This Blog

Monday, October 22, 2018

Nabi Sayeth: A Sad Seminary Story -- Beware Worldly "Spiritual Directors"

Because I'm a priest of God imitating my Savior!
Nabi Sayeth: A Catholic seminary should be a place of holiness, of study….a safe place where men who are called to the priesthood can pray and study in preparation for their lifetime commitment to Jesus and His beloved Church. But so often seminaries have been places where vocations are dashed and faith destroyed.

Nabi writes here today about a conversation with a clergyman from West Virginia who was sent to one of the oldest and once largest seminaries in the U.S. And in particular, Nabi wishes to use the words of the clergyman who as a seminarian had his faith severely threatened by the practices he observed at that school. Here are the clergyman’s own words….

“Everything was new for me when I arrived at the seminary. So many of the men there had gone from Catholic kindergarten all the up through the ranks to the "major" seminary with few breaks in between. Many were very immature, never having held down a serious job.”

“One of the first things we were expected to do during orientation week was to find a spiritual director. In the seminary, the relationship of a seminarian and his spiritual director is the most important one during his time there. How did we do it? There were several social gatherings during orientation week which provided the opportunity to rub shoulders with the various people, mostly priests but also some sisters who served as spiritual directors. You would go for a “walk and talk” on the grounds of the property in order to become acquainted with the priest or sister so that a relationship could begin.”

“I chose an Immaculate Heart of Mary sister, a bit older woman, but one who amazed me with her credentials. She possessed PhD’s in Psychology, Microbiology, a Master’s in Theology and she was an R.N. I was initially in awe of the fact that she had accomplished so much in terms of her educational experience.”

“We set up our “Spiritual Director/Spiritual Directee meetings for every two weeks in her seminary room. From the outset it was clear to me that she was not a Mother Teresa type but she, rather, was a pure scientist. And while I was amazed at her ability to converse on so many different topics, there were very few that pertained to Catholic spirituality.”

“Looking back on those years of working with sister, it is clear to me now that she sought to flush out my closely held beliefs and traditions. She set out to mold me into the priest she thought I should be and in the process, I really was harmed spiritually.”

What happens when a spiritual director sends you in the wrong direction?
  • I was raised to think of putting others first, to put the needs of others before my own. She saw this as an indication of “low self-esteem.”
  • I had been raised to appreciate the value of hard work and to enjoy breaks in between projects. In sister’s thinking I just didn’t see the value of taking time for myself. I needed to make MY NEEDS a priority.
  • I was raised to be thrifty, to save money, to evaluate purchases based on NEED rather than WANT. Sister expressed often that I needed to pamper myself, to be more generous to myself, to spend more money on doing “fun” things.
  • We rarely discussed my prayer life, whether I was going regularly to confession, praying the Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. She preferred instead to discuss my academic achievements, my study, my research.
  • And we NEVER EVER discussed the HUGE elephant in the room: The fact that the seminary where we both lived was 90 per cent homosexual in its population, including priests and sisters. The closest we came to discussing the topic was during a meeting when she seemed shocked that one of the faculty members, a British Anglican priest and scripture “scholar”, C.S. Mann, had been arrested and deported for producing and distributing child pornography. She seemed to be miffed at what he had done but nothing more.”
“As my time at that seminary began to wind down, I began to actively think about what I would need to flush out of my mind in order to be the kind of priest that I had felt called to be in the first place. I had to re-think much of what I had been taught. And I had to find my way back to those spiritual practices and attitudes that prepared me for the seminary to begin with so that I would….
  • See the need to put others, especially the parishioners, first.
  • Live a simple lifestyle. For instance, to buy a car no more expensive or elaborate than what the average parishioner could afford to drive.
  • Take time off only when the needs of the people are first met.
  • Recognize the value of Catholic traditions, especially daily mass, praying the Rosary, Adoration of the Holy Eucharist.
  • Never make extravagant purchases, dine at expensive restaurants or wear expensive non-clergy clothing.
  • In other words, to imitate the lifestyle of the average, hard-working people in the pews…."
Nabi Sayeth: It is unfortunate that a man would have to un-learn so much of what he went to seminary to learn! The seminary system, in fact, the lifestyle of all clergymen must change NOW. Catholic laity are confused, upset and enraged at what is being revealed almost every day about so many clergymen, especially the hierarchy. Perhaps they all need to have tattooed on their forehead, the job description Our Lord left them in Mark 10: 45…

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Chriss Rainey said...

I believe spiritual directing is more dangerous than it is good. The # of priests who can be counted on to give you a clear voice of truth and reason is so small they are probably as rare as a diamond on the beach in the sand. Good luck finding one.

Read the Catechism of the Council of Trent. And pray.

Susan Matthiesen said...

His parents were his best spiritual directors. He could have skipped the seminary and gone straight into being a priest since he had to unlearn all that the seminary had taught him.

Never be awed by credentials as credentials only. Highly credentialed people are normally liberals too educated to use their reason. I have to see proof of them having actually learned something beneficial before I'll believe anything they say or do.

Just yesterday I saw a truly credentialed woman - the violinist Dr Ayako Yonetani. We saw her play a violin solo with the Orlando Youth Symphony. She was amazing...had the entire 20 minute solo memorized. Her high notes on the violin were perfect. Afterwards I read the short bio in the program. I was astounded - but then in order to do what I had just seen and heard her do, she had to have been highly credentialed, talented, intelligent. Here's the "About" on her Facebook page. Scroll down and click on her Biography. She earned her first "credentials" at age 9.

A pastor (now retired) here in Florida always said the SAME THING in the confessional. No matter what digressions were confessed he always said, "Well, remember that God loves you." I always wanted to reply, "I KNOW that! Just please say some tidbit of spiritual direction to help in the future."

It was as if we were not supposed to improve. We were to merely stay the way we are because no matter what we do or say we should know that God loves us regardless.