The motive underlying the intellectual life of the seminarian must be love for Christ and his Church. This easily translates into a love for the Truth as it comes to be known through faith and reason. The study of theology in a seminary must truly be fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding) at the deepest possible level, where it is Christ who is encountered as a Person, as the Living Truth. The study of theology begins in faith and deepens faith; it flows from prayer and into prayer. The intellectual life of a priest must be a constitutive element of his growth in holiness. The seminarian's Intellectual Formation is not evaluated simply upon his grades. Intellectual Formation is concerned with both content and living.
For some, academic work comes easily; for others, it seems daunting. At Mount St. Mary's Seminary, we have an outstanding faculty and program that will help form the minds and hearts of seminarians according to the heart and mind of Christ and the Church. Mount St. Mary's Seminary conforms to the bishops' guidelines for the intellectual formation of seminarians, presented in the 5th edition of the Program for Priestly Formation.
One of the principal tasks of the seminarian is to study and to come to a more profound knowledge of the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is important to be clear about our academic expectations. What are the academic expectations for seminarians at Mount St. Mary's Seminary?
Love for truth discovered by faith and reason.
Bernard of Clairvaux states in his commentary On the Song of Songs: "Let those who are versed in mystery revel in it; let all others burn with desire rather to attain this experience rather than merely learn about it." The seminarian must display a love for this pursuit and grow in habits that discourage intellectual sloth.
Fidelity to the Word of God and the Magisterium
The content of our studies is the principally the Word of God, written and handed down through the Scriptures and the Magisterium. The seminarian is expected to be open to intellectual conversion and appreciation for the richness of the Church's wisdom.
Knowledge of Catholic Doctrine imbued with Apostolic Zeal
Today the world is rich in scientific and technical knowledge, but threatened by relativism and an increasingly narrow scope of the human person. Today's priest must have more than a competency in the teaching of the Church; he must also know how to present this knowledge in the face of the present challenges. The Church needs intellectually well-formed priests to answer the questions posed by the "new atheism"; to assist families in crisis or those facing difficult and technical ethical issues; to defend the weak and vulnerable members of society; and to provide sound teaching to the Faithful who are today so desirous for authentic catechesis.
A Spirit of Christian Asceticism appropriate for the Intellectual life
Ascetical practices are an integral part of priestly spiritual and intellectual formation. Asceticism seeks to create space for God. The seminarian is encouraged to engage study and its related habits as a type of asceticism. In the monastic tradition, St. Benedict warns of distraction, "wandering" and lack of focus. It is the stable Word of God that helps heal the wound of distraction. Many enter the seminary already distracted and with minds easily diverted. The constant bombardment from a media-driven culture, technological escapism and its accompanying gadgets provide the seminarian with many unhelpful opportunities that divert them from their end: seeking the Lord. Seminarians at Mount St. Mary's are encouraged to engage in moderate media use and to practice some type of "virtual" fasting. It is the formation of the life-giving and life-long habits of finding both intellectual stimulation and mental relaxation in the contemplation of the things of God we seek to inculcate in the men.