Note: During a chat on June 1, Brs. Leland, Brenden and I talked about the school year. It was interesting what everyone shared. Here is the second part of my highlights and struggles during my first year in theology.
Where was the balance?
I was wondering about that as the school year was wrapping up. I had entered my first year of theology concerned how I would adjust to an academic schedule after a year of novitiate. The fall semester had a light schedule of four classes and an apostolate. That helped me be in that academic mindset.
Each spring semester in the seminary challenged me. But this spring semester tested me the most. I opted for six classes and an apostolate because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to take elementary Latin in second and third years of theology. I had wanted to learn this venerable language of the Church when I entered the seminary. My fellow seminarians recounted how light the workload for Latin was. What could go wrong?
Where can I begin?
Juggling the demands of professors and paper assignments put a strain on my schedule. My earlier scheduling was jettisoned and readjusted as I overestimated how much I can do. Six classes and an apostolate meant that at best, I could dedicate a day for each class. That included the required reading.
I was learning painfully to read more efficiently through the material. I checked out summaries, focused on first lines of paragraphs and read the introductory and concluding paragraphs in each chapter. I would’ve preferred to take my time with the material, but time was in short supply.
That time crunch affected community and exercise. Academics had the nasty trap of swallowing blocks of time. One could end up like a hermit. At one moment, I asked myself: When was the last time I called a friend? The earlier goal of hanging out with a classmate weekly was dumped. Toward the end of the semester, I joined in more group activities to get out of the house. Had I mentioned that I had seen “Avengers: Infinity War” twice with my fellow seminarians?
How about exercising three times a week? There were stretches when I couldn’t work out at all. That’s why I did the burpee challenge (read about it here and here) to maintain some activity. Even that didn’t survive the last six weeks of classes. My summer goal was to rebuild my workout schedule.
I admired Br. Leland for building friendships and maintaining exercise under similar workload. Next school year, I’ll focus on building up community and working out more. But the goals will be more realistic. Eat out with a classmate at least once a month. Because short exercises three times a week was quickly jettisoned in the grind, a dedicated weekly exercise of 45 minutes would survive the crush of finals.
Although academics are important, make sure that you set your priorities straight and stick to them.