The 'time of reckoning' as my one professor called it has arrived. The fall semester ended on Friday and exams begin on Monday. Exams here are different than in the States. Rather than just one week of exams, the exam period here lasts for three weeks. In those three weeks, I'll meet with each of my professor for a 10-15 minute oral exam. I'm used to written exams as I'm sure most Americans are. So I just have to pray, sleep, and study and give each exam my best effort.
Study is one of the fundamental parts of seminary life. While preparing for my first exam, I asked myself, "Why study theology at all?" -- Reasons for doing Theology… Why are am I studying theology? Just to be ordained? Is theology dangerous to personal faith? Does it threaten faith? Theology doesn't have physical tools like the other sciences. Rather as theologians we are the tool. I can’t do theology without faith. Theology is different than religious studies which studies only the cultural phenomenon of religion without faith. Theology is a science but we can’t distance ourselves from our personal faith and the study of it. Piety as a praxis of faith is important but I still need to be able to use reasonable arguments to get to a better understanding of faith and humanity and myself. Theology is possible and necessary because we are human beings who can be defined as rational animals (Aristotle). Ultimately, study is a human action. Theology is using the gift of my mind in an act of intellectual worship. Theology is faith seeking reason as St. Anselm said.
On the feast of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr, Pope Benedict had an audience with the seminarians of the Diocese of Rome. He made some remarks on the importance of study in the life of seminarians. He said that the seminarian's path to holiness includes a life of study. The Holy Father sought to connect the spiritual life with the intellectual life.
"The path of holiness of the priest forms part also of his choice to develop, with the help of God, his intelligence and his own commitment, a real strong personal culture, fruit of passionate and constant study. Faith has its own intellectual and rational dimension that is essential. For a seminarian and a young priest still struggling with academic study, it means assimilating the synthesis between faith and reason that is peculiar to Christianity. The Word of God became flesh, and the priest, the true priest of the Incarnate Word, must become more transparent, luminous and profound, to the eternal Word which is given to us. He who is mature also in this, his global cultural training, can be a more effective educator and promoter of that worship "in spirit and truth" of which Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:23)." (Pope Benedict)
Pope Benedict is asking seminarians (and in a general way everyone) to fall in love with faith and embrace the study of faith so that we can be effective ministers of the "Word made Flesh" both in our words and in our deeds, true promoters of evangelization.
My motto these next few weeks: Pray, Sleep and Study.