Our short bio: We are young Catholic men who through discernment believe that God may be calling us to the Catholic priesthood. Myself, /u/porfiry, and /u/SeminarianThrowaway will be answering your questions today! If you are a Catholic seminarian on Reddit (we know you're out there!) let us know and we'll add you to our community, /r/Seminarians.

For clarification, /u/SeminarianThrowaway is a former seminarian who recently discerned out... that is, he believes God's calling for him is in fact not the the priesthood.

Ask us anything about seminary, the Church, etc! If you have a doctrinal question, etc, you could direct it to /r/Catholicism as well.

Proof: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1ueh68/we_are_catholic_seminarians_studying_for_the/ceh86md

EDIT: I have somewhere to be soon so I'm heading out now. Not sure how long /u/porfiry and /u/SeminarianThrowaway will be around. I'll still lurk the thread in future days however!

Comments: 1113 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

samdr39 karma

What made you want to be a priest?

balrogath38 karma

I always wanted to be one as a child, I saw them as superheroes almost who just helped and loved everyone. Fast forward to high school, that feeling died out, but in my first year of college I had a resurgence of that urge to serve others by being a priest, starting with a somewhat personal revelation from God.

samdr22 karma

That's good. What's the hardest part about becoming a priest?

balrogath53 karma

No physical family, I'd have to say. You have an amazing spiritual one, but the fact that you need to give up a wife and kids of your own in order to dedicate your life more fully is a difficult thing to do.

Honeybeard17 karma

I have been discerning my own call to the Priesthood for three years. I am upset to say that the prospect of an empty house to come home to frightens me. I've seen some Priests that house share together to overcome this. The trope of having a perfect partner, children, and house is a dream too tempting.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. What do you have in your life to keep yourself in company?

balrogath23 karma

Would you like to join /r/Discerning, a sub for people just like yourself?

What do you have in your life to keep yourself in company?

Some priests do live with other priests, and even if not, are in fraternity groups with other priests to be friends with and keep each other accountable. You're not a hermit ;)

Peoples_Bropublic2 karma

Assuming you're Catholic, I would suggest looking in to one of the many other Rites in the RCC. Though the Latin Rite requires clerical celibacy, most (all?) others do not.

Honeybeard16 karma

I'm gay, so it's not an option either way. Thanks though brother for taking the time out to reply.

balrogath12 karma

That is definitely something to bring up with your Vocations Director right away. Being honest is important.

samdr7 karma

That would be tough. What's the best thing?

balrogath75 karma

It is kind of awesome to be able to turn bread into Jesus.

steverulestheworld7 karma

I've always wondered about this. When you say that you're turning bread into the body of Christ do you mean it is actually his body with his DNA and stuff? Is it just a metaphor? When I was in Sunday School I asked and they said they believed it was actually him, how is that possible?

balrogath24 karma

It's a philosophical concept called transubstantiation.

Every object in the world has "substance" (what the object IS) and "accidents" (the outward appearances). In transubstantiation at Mass, the bread's substance (what it is) turns from bread to Jesus while the accidents (bread, white, unleaven, wheat, etc) remain the same.

TheLemurGuy26 karma

Do you have any "say" about where you will be sent after you graduate? How does the Church determine this? By language and country of origin, or can they send you to a completely random place if they need a priest?

balrogath31 karma

I'll stay within my diocese, but I have no choice what parish I am sent to. That's up to the bishop.

If you want to go beyond being a diocesan priest, you can also put your name in the hat for going to a mission in another country (the priest who baptized me later went to Venezuela) or becoming a military chaplain.

rechonicle22 karma

How do you guys feel about Pope Francis?

balrogath73 karma

He's a great guy who says the exact same things that previous Popes have said, but he says it better and with more emphasis on the poor.

j0rd4n21 karma

Do you hear a lot of pedophile jokes?

balrogath23 karma

Not directed at me, but I hear plenty towards priests and they're really not funny.

Annied31121 karma

As a former Catholic, I never know what to do when I go to mass for a wedding, funeral, etc. Having gone through first Communion and Reconciliation, I don't know if I should take Communion or not. To me, saying 'amen' after accepting the host would be a lie and disrespectful, yet my family thinks I should take communion out of respect for the church/ sacraments. Your thoughts?

balrogath50 karma

You should not take communion, and for the reason your family thinks you should: out of respect for the sacraments. Saying "amen" (meaning "so be it") is a lie and receiving the Lord without believing would be a sin. Please do not partake, you are correct.

LiterallyHitler1315 karma

What do you think of the trend in Southern Baptist seminaries toward teaching that science is wrong / that young Earth creationism is the only way to interpret the Bible?

balrogath109 karma

I think it's somewhat foolish. The Bible isn't a book, it's a library full of myths, stories, rules, etc that all need to be taken in context. I am a theistic evolutionist and I find Fundamentalism to be a flawed response to the Enlightenment.

kh43215 karma

How rigorous is your formation? Do you live on a tight schedule? I imagine the environment must be something akin to being in a giant fraternity with less temptations - how accurate would that characterization be?

balrogath17 karma

Formation is tough, less tough on first-year men like myself though. My seminary places an emphasis on academic formation, as can be seen by my schedule below:

Typical weekday:

  • 5:15-5:45am - Wake up
  • 6:15 - Holy Hour with Morning Prayer
  • 7:15 - Mass
  • 7:45 - Breakfast
  • 8:15-Noonish - Classes
  • Noonish - Lunch
  • Noonish - 3pm - Classes
  • 5pm - Evening Prayer
  • 5:15 - Dinner
  • 6:45-8:15 - Study Hours
  • 10:30 - Lights out

All time unaccounted for is free for studying, working out, fraternity, etc. Weekends are more free:

  • 9am - Holy Hour & Morning Prayer
  • 10am - Mass
  • 11am - Lunch

and the rest is free. We are expected to do Evening Prayer on our own, and on Sunday we have meetings starting at 6:30pm. We are required to have 40 academic hours a week, from classes/study hours/etc.

porfiry12 karma

Where I am the schedule is even less strict, which honestly I'm happy about. We don't have "lights out" but we have a curfew at midnight weeknights and at 1am weekends.

balrogath12 karma

We do have a curfew as well, and the "lights out" is really just a "strong recommendation", not really a requirement.

emprags14 karma

As a lay person, what are some things I can do to assist seminarians in my diocese?

What can I do to assit the priests?

Deum benedicite!

balrogath17 karma

Pray for them! There are constant spiritual battles going on. Some seminarians may need financial assistance as well if you are in a position to do that.

superryan13 karma

If you were allowed by the Church to marry, would you? Do you feel that being celibate as a priest provides advantages that outweigh the benefits of marriage?

balrogath24 karma

Not sure. Being a priest is even more than a full time job and to have a family on top of that would be very tough. I feel called somewhat to not have a family, so I'd lean towards no.

whatsthefuturehold11 karma


balrogath22 karma

Do you think seminary would be more difficult for a Catholic convert than a cradle Catholic?

Converts actually tend to know the faith better as they had to find it for themselves and weren't just given it. Not sure how seminary would go based on that, perhaps it'd be even easier!

What's the best discernment advice you were given?

Just led God direct you where He wants you to go. He's in control.

How did you discern in general? What worked/didn't work? (it's something I have been struggling with)

Pray. Picture yourself married, picture yourself as a priest. Which one puts you at peace?

unitire11 karma

I have at times felt called to the priesthood, but of late felt a strong pull to the married life. What advice might you give someone in my situation?

balrogath14 karma

Pray! Read the book "To Save a Thousand Souls". Contact your vocations director. Discerned out seminarians make great husbands.

scoop_179 karma

Are there practices in place throughout your formation to the priesthood to weed out people that could potentially be child molesters and pedophiles?

balrogath8 karma

Before you're even accepted you have to take a very rigorous psychological exam.

Chiropx9 karma

Do you foresee the RCC changing or modifying its stance on those Christians who aren't Roman Catholic? And, are there priests who are more open to that even though church teaching doesn't seem to be very open to it?

I'm, as a Lutheran, hopeful for better dialogue in the future, especially in light of the joint declaration on justification.

balrogath27 karma

I actually read the joint declaration on justification for a class, great stuff.

I'd love to see more ecumenical discussion on the future. I'd really love to see the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics rejoin in my lifetime.

CourtsideRecovery8 karma

If you had sex before deciding to become a priest, are you still allowed to be a priest? Or do you have to be celibate your entire life?

balrogath10 karma

Several seminarians have had past lives they regret that involve having sex with girlfriends, etc. That's perfectly fine. You commit to celibacy during the seminary, your past life is forgiven.

[deleted]7 karma


balrogath12 karma

Right now actually the number of seminarians is rapidly rising. Something's working right now! My seminary has had to turn people away because we're full!

NicolasCageIsMyHero7 karma

Here is something a bit more casual. What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite musical artist?

balrogath6 karma

Rock and country. Don't really have a fav artist.

maltem7 karma

What is the most beautiful or inspiring site (spritually speaking) that you have ever visited, or what is a religious site that you plan to visit some day?

balrogath9 karma

As I've never traveled out of the country, I'd say the most beautiful place I've seen is the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, MN. A truly beautiful place. I had the opportunity to attend the ordination of a new bishop there, it was very awe-filled.

fr-josh11 karma

Bishop Cozzens?

balrogath10 karma

Bishop Cozzens.

fr-josh11 karma

Bishop Cozzens!

balrogath10 karma

Bishop Cozzens 【ツ】

CaineBK6 karma

Do you in some way understand why a person would be an atheist? Or does it just kind of blow your mind?

balrogath19 karma

Of course I can. It can be hard to believe in something not easily seen.

kempff6 karma

Does a cassock really protect your vocation?

balrogath33 karma

koine_lingua5 karma

What academic material that you've encountered in seminary has been the most insightful - and most challenging - to you?

balrogath8 karma


porfiry5 karma

Do you have to take Greek at your seminary? If not, do you have the option to?

balrogath6 karma

Nope, and perhaps in major but not in minor.

kempff5 karma

Which is the hardest: poverty, chastity, or obedience?

balrogath9 karma

Chastity/celibacy. I don't make a promise of poverty ;P

jfc1235 karma

First to give some context I am Christian with a fairly strong belief in Jesus but I have many strong disagreements with the Catholic Church. Anyway my questions 1. If morals are absolute (vs relative) does everyone who kills in war do something morally wrong? 2. If everything that the pope says is right (papal infallibility) then does that mean that the pope that ordered the crusades was right and that it was good that all of those soldiers killed so many people in God's name just to have control of Jerusalem? Do you think that that is really what Jesus wanted? Also was Simony right because the Pope said so? 3. The Bible clearly states that Jesus had siblings. Why do you think that Mary was always a virgin then? Also on the subject of Mary is there any reason other than the one passage in Revelations that (maybe) alludes to her on a Throne in Heaven that makes you think that she never sinned or had original sin and that she rose up to heaven without dying? I mean even if it was about her couldn't the image just personify her soul as her body? Or maybe everyone has a body in Heaven. Note that those are just a few of my disagreements.

balrogath17 karma

  1. If morals are absolute (vs relative) does everyone who kills in war do something morally wrong?

Just War theory.

  1. If everything that the pope says is right (papal infallibility)

Let's stop right there. That's not what Papal infallibility is. Papal infallibility is used in matters of Faith and Morals and can only be used when he is speaking ex cathedra and specifically says so. In that moment God gives him the grace not to err. This has only happened twice. That said, I think the rest of the question is answered.

  1. The Bible clearly states that Jesus had siblings. Why do you think that Mary was always a virgin then?

The word for brother referred to cousins or close friends, biblical scholars agree on this.

Also on the subject of Mary is there any reason other than the one passage in Revelations that (maybe) alludes to her on a Throne in Heaven that makes you think that she never sinned or had original sin

Would God be born into the world in anything but a perfect vessel? To be born of someone who had sinned would be beneath His dignity.

and that she rose up to heaven without dying? I mean even if it was about her couldn't the image just personify her soul as her body? Or maybe everyone has a body in Heaven. Note that those are just a few of my disagreements.

Evidence of this exists in that every apostle/early Church leader had a tomb/Church erected where they died. Mary has no such church and no one claims to have her bones as relics either. No one has found a credible gravesite. This suggests she was raised.

grant10234 karma

Is it hard knowing that you can't ever marry a girl?

balrogath11 karma

Sure is.

MiniMeatloaf4 karma

This might be a touchy subject but what do you think happens to Atheists in the afterlife?

balrogath12 karma

Pope Francis commented on this very well. If they weren't anti-Church and were living a virtuous life, living to their moral conscience to the best of their abilities, there's hope!

sasky_813 karma

What was the biggest hurdle before finalizing your decision to become a priest? Family pressure, no sex, etc?

balrogath7 karma

My family was actually very supportive. No sex, no wife, etc is definitely a big one, but promising and giving up your entire life is definitely a biggie too.

nrith3 karma

Only this: Why?

porfiry36 karma

It's the only path in life I see making me truly happy.

balrogath13 karma


Sergio_563 karma

How did your friends, both Catholic and non-Catholic, react when you told them you were joining the seminary and wanted to become a priest?

balrogath6 karma

Most if not all of them were supportive. Some atheist friends may have thought me silly they didn't say it to my face and the general response was positive.

joejitsubjj3 karma

Do you really believe in transubstantiation? I grew up catholic in the north east US and nobody really believed it. Many years later after moving to the south I found out it was official doctrine and people believe it.

balrogath9 karma

I sure do, especially now that I know the philosophical principles behind it. It makes sense!

divestrong3 karma

Why don't you believe in the Mormon doctrine and John Smith's teachings?

balrogath14 karma

Because the whole foundation of Mormonism, the "Great Apostasy", is a historical falsehood. Many things are very contradictory as well.

Skullbone2112 karma

Hello! I'm a junior in high school, and I have discerning since I was a freshman. After a lot of praying and speaking to several priests, brothers, and seminarians, I now feel that God is calling me to the priesthood, and I want to enter out of high school. I just have one problem, my dad. He is incredibly opposed to my entering the seminary, and I have no idea why. The last time I tried to talk about it with him, he started to shout and left. Any advice?

balrogath3 karma

I invite you to join /r/Discerning if you wish, we have a bunch of people discerning like you as well as seminarians to give you advice.

Tsara12342 karma

Sexual Release. We know you have to be celibate, and that masturbation is "frowned upon" (and in some circles considered a sin). What options are open to the clergy to get release? Sure, many will say "just don't do it" but it really isn't as easy as that, at least in my opinion.

This question is meant in all seriousness, not in any sense of "haha...look at what I asked".

balrogath8 karma

We release ourselves in other ways, through service, love, etc. As I'm not a priest yet I can't comment on that too much, but perhaps the next time /u/fr-josh does his AMA you could ask!