PURITY IN A MORALLY PERVERSE WORLD: THE SEMINARIAN IN A JUGGLED STATE

PURITY IN A MORALLY PERVERSE WORLD: THE SEMINARIAN IN A JUGGLED STATE

JOHN OGRAH

Introduction

The topic ‘purity in a morally perverse world: the seminarian in a juggled state’, is particularly timely and I believe it should occupy an important place in our formation dossier. After all, affective education is inseparably linked with the other areas of priestly formation: intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral. As the phrase ‘juggled’ implies, the conscience and spiritual outlook of today’s seminarians are frequently tossed in the air, mortgaged and manipulated. The worry of prophet Jeremiah’s day can be correlated to represent ours as well: “If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword (of society)! And if I enter the city, behold the diseases of famine (moral permissiveness)! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge” (14:18)  

Formation to the priesthood is about forming, moulding and training men to be good shepherds. Unfortunately, history suggests otherwise, as not all of those who have been trained to be so, have in fact, been “good shepherds.” This indictment is not far away; it is very close: society and its philosophy that has created a culture of moral pervasiveness. Cut in this web, the 21st century seminarian finds it a herculean task trying to accentuate and define his identity. Thus, under such milieu, the embrace of the evangelical call of purity would mean to be baptized in society’s own nomenclature, “mad people.” Indeed we are mad people, only that our madness is a radical aversion from the world with its web of moral ambivalence.

This picture of society aims simply at dethroning the culture of God and enthroning the satanic culture of death. In this new culture, there is moral trivialization and spiritual truncation. These twin evils contaminate and fester. Of course, when ethical standards are trivialised the result is perversion in attitude, behaviour, character, lifestyle and viewpoints. This is the spiritual cum moral quagmire, a juggled (confused) state that today’s seminarians find themselves; presenting as it were, the pursuit of purity as a futile struggle. In our minds are the unresolved worries: Is purity or rather chastity still tenable? Is it possible to pursue purity without being entangled in society’s perverse snare? What path is there to follow? What are the challenges to purity?

To answer the above worries, this paper adopts the expository cum analytical model, and concepts were used in relation to the issues at hand. In defining purity reference was made to chastity since to be chaste denotes purity in the fuller sense. The term moral perversion is defined as analogous to sexual perversion. The paper commences by situating purity as the vocation of seminarians. It progresses to define perversion and moral perversion implicitly. It further situates the problem in today’s society using the analogy of a compass. Effects of society’s immoral attitudes on seminarians were identified. The need for a moral compassed as the old way forward was looked into, identifying purification of memory, education of the affective and prayerful awaiting as role to be played by both the seminary formators and seminarians. It ends with a conclusion as a summary of issues raised in the body of the paper itself.  

Purity, the vocation of seminarians

The term purity is replicated in the pages of sacred scripture. For the Old Testament authors, purity embodies an emptying out or being clean and opposed to be guilty. It stands over against such conduct or attitudes as unfaithfulness to God’s command (Hosea 8:1), rebellion against God’s law (v. 1), and idolatry (vv. 4-6, 11). It implies cleanness of hands (Gen. 20:5) and innocence (Ps. 26:6, 73:13). In the New Testament the emphasis is on moral purity or purification. It implies chastity (2 Cor. 11:2; Titus 2:5); innocence in one’s attitude toward members of the church (2 Cor. 7:11) and moral purity or uprightness (Phil. 4:8, 1 Tim. 5:22, 1 Pet. 3:2; 1 Jn. 1:3) (Dennett, 1996).

From the above, purity implies being chaste and to be chaste is to be faithful. Faithfulness is a demand of the vocation of seminarians who would be the priests of tomorrow. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2337) defines chastity as the successful integration of sexuality within the person. By integrity of the person, seminarians are called to be firm and shun behaviours that tolerate double standards in action nor duplicity in speech (Mt. 5:37).

Chastity also requires self-mastery which is “training in human freedom” (CCC, n.2339). Ben Sirach cautions; “either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” (Sir. 1:22). Implied here is the restraining of passion. Self-mastery is on-going and never a finished project. Thus, the vocation to be pure is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbour provided it contributes to affective maturity. St. Ambrose agrees that the various states of chastity make for the richness of the discipline of the Church. Offense against purity (chastity) includes:

  1. Lust (disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure)
  2. Masturbation (deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure.)
  3. Fornication (carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman)
  4. Pornography (perverted conjugal act that immerses those involved in the illusion of a fantasy world)
  5. Prostitution (a social scourge, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure)
  6. Rape (forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity)

Moral Perversion; concept and meaning

Webster’s dictionary defines perversion as “diversion from the true intent or purpose; a turning or applying to a wrong end or use’. To be perverse is to be persistent in error; different from what is reasonable or required. Morality is simply about “that which men ought to do.” By its very nature, morality presumes that there are universal moral ideas that transcend cultural norms.

A moral pervert is enslaved in patterns of thought and behaviour that are morally wrong (in violation of God’s law and in conflict with an informed conscience).  Sexual perversion is an index of moral perversion. As such, it refers to a condition where a person’s sexual urge, fantasies, impulses and behaviour is abused and misused against culture, nature, social, health, religion, laws and ethics and also causing psychological /emotional harm and distress.

In relation to religion however, perversion is considered ‘deviation from righteousness’; and sexual perversion is ‘a wrong mentality and response towards sexual desire’ (Eph. 4:1). Its end is bondage, shame and darkness.

The indices of a pervert state of mind are:

  1. Individual pleasure at the expense of others.
  2. Acceptance and denial of reality.
  3. Engaging others as accomplices in the perversion.
  4. Instrumental relations in society that destroy social differentiation and create a defensive world of illusion.
  5. Perversion begets perversion

Society versus morality: the confusion in context

21st century society has invented its own lexicon for describing reality. Freedom, autonomy, permissiveness, trivialization, sexualism, sensualism, hedonism, contraception, contraceptive mentality, abortion, homosexualism and perversion, are some of society’s nomenclature. Using such languages, it aims at enthroning its own values, perception, style, standards and measures, and hence, dethroning the culture of God that celebrates informed conscience and absolute moral standards. Lloyd, D.F. (2001) decries that “the modern world’s pursuit of hedonism has replaced God with science.” What a world! Indeed, the phrase ‘21st century is already a yawn’ is true perhaps because all the hype has dulled our senses, blurred our vision and indicts our conscience.

This was not so at the beginning where traditional Christian morality was the moral compass that gave direction to humanity’s growth. The natural law (rational man’s participation in the divine positive law) was often made referenced to. At this point in history, we could say, the moral compass was facing ‘north’ giving the right guidance. Consequently, the ‘perverted faculty’ argument was acknowledged a veritable tool for refuting all forms of moral perversion as sexual immorality: contraception, sodomy, masturbation, promiscuity etc. The argument affirms that the only moral use of the sexual faculty is in its non-contracepted heterosexual use between married spouses (Dylan James, 2006). The goal of sexual voyage was unitive and procreative and hence any other use of the faculty is contrary to its purpose and is thus ‘perverted’ (Dylan, 2006).

But sadly the moral compass has southso decried Tony Castor, and a new twist is given to our moral assumptions. Brought about by the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the term ‘morality going south’ is an analogy of a direction that leads to nowhere but self-destruction. Thus, the indicators identifying perversion of morality in society are:

  1. The ‘gospel’ of science

The accelerating pace of science is creating moral dilemmas in the conscience of many. As result, we are forced to contemplate issues that previous generations neither conceived of nor could imagine. Take for instance, case one, the news that the DNA of a Danish woman- taken from a blood sample she gave in the 1980s- has been introduced into thousands of New Zealand sheep, without her knowledge, by the same British firm that genetically engineered Dolly the sheep. The company says it intends to extract a protein from the genetically modified milk of these sheep- a protein that it claims might help cure diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Case two: an American couple who used advanced fertility technology to select a fertilised ovum in order to produce a boy. Not just any boy, but one who was genetically ideal to be bone marrow donor to his older sister, who would otherwise die.

This is tale of our century, the homily delivered as the gospel of science. It inaugurates the demise of the unitive and procreative aspects of sexuality at the expense of mere genitality. In the name of science man has reinvented human sacrifices (Daniel Johnson) and the experimentation of species. The sirens of science are usurping the role of priests, dulling our moral sensibilities with the bewitching illusion of immortality (O’Hear, A, 2000). Purity in such milieu is illusion and non-existent. At best, purity as a term can only be defined in relation with chemical sifting. The consequence of this is borne both in the moral and psycho-anthropological plane.

  1. Sexual perversion and sexism

Sexual perversion which is an unnatural or abnormal form of sexual behaviour is another social truancy; creating as it were a pan-sexualised and hyper-erotic climate. Educationists assume climate a determinant of behaviour, attitude and commitment. That being in case, today’s seminarians are in big trouble. Lloyd (2001) laments; “never before have we so sorely needed a firm moral and spiritual basis by which to make sense of the pace and direction of science.” He continues, “We find ourselves groping in an unfamiliar, fast-changing spiritual wilderness, trying to pin down this elusive issue of conscience, figuratively even debating which way is up”.  This is what we get from a society that hypes moral ambivalence and degrades traditional and spiritual values. In his book, After Progress: Finding the way forward, O’Hear (1999) narrates that “in the ‘new Atlantic’, the scientists are in effect the rulers. They define the direction of society and human life.” Indeed, the utopian vision predicted by the English Philosopher, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is upon us. However, we are warned: “if we have a care for the human world, we must begin to resist the imperialism of science; its claims to be able to tell us everything about the world and what we are.” The sexual exploitative attitude of society sees the other as mere objects to be used and discarded. Selfishness is the drive for every action. The human person in this light is only accepted only in the dimension of instrumental relatedness. That is, a relationship where people use one and other to gain their own particular ends. To this, Pope Francis warns:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience… God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too.

Thus, Yamoah (2014) reiterates that sexual perversion is the fruit of false freedom, self-glorification and corrupt wisdom of men.

Some of the indicators of sexual perversion in society are:

  • Exhibitionism– behaviour to expose one’s genitals to an unsuspecting person or to perform sexual acts that can be watched by others
  • Fetishism– the use of inanimate objects to gain sexual excitement
  • Frotteurism– behaviour of touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person
  • Paedophilia: condition of being sexually attracted to children
  • Sexual masochism– recurrent urge of wanting to be humiliated, beaten, bound or otherwise made to suffer for sexual pleasure
  • Sexual sadism– urge involving acts in which the pain or humiliation of a person is sexually exciting
  • Transvestic fetishism– experience of an arousal from wearing clothing associated with members of other opposite sex
  • Voyeurism– urge to observe an unsuspecting person who is naked, de-robbing, or engaging in sexual activities usually considered to be of a private nature.

Other forms of sexual perversion include   homosexuality, lesbianism, masturbation, bestiality, oral sex, finger sex, anal sex, tran-sexuality, sex robbery, incest, rape, and Child Sex abuse.

  1.  Idolatry of freedom

The idolatry of freedom is also a cause. Unrestraint freedom frowns at the supremacy of God and instead celebrates secularization of man, violence and moral relativism. Existentialist philosophers are aggrieved at the reference often made to God rather than man. This is their gist! There is no God-given universal rule of morality which can guide man in his actions; no one to tell us what is right and what is wrong. No clear sign to take away the responsibility of freedom. Similarly, Jean Paul Sartre, a janitor of this school concludes, “we are now upon the plane where there are only men.” The target is for man to become the superman. This same nostalgia gave impetus to Nietzsche’s sermon in Thus Says Zarathustra: “Atheism is the liberation of man from slavery… We must be the murderers of God. We must empty the sea and undo our chains. What would there be to create if there were gods? God is dead, God is dead; long live the Super-man.”

The repercussion of such view is nothing but the suffocation and voluntary blindness of man by man towards the light of truth. Cardinal Piacenza (2011) therefore cautions that “the powerful forces of the world have sought to bend the freedom of persons to various unworthy interests, and have spared no measures to achieve the “destructuralization” of the psycho-affective dimension of the human personality, and by so doing to subject man to his instincts.”

  1. The omnipresence of the communications media and the canonization of pornography

 

In spite of its many advantages in helping people identify, accentuates and acknowledged their identity, we could find certain moral losses that outweigh our gains in our patronage of the communication media and internet. There has been a rise in television shows such as ‘Big Brother’. Here, a group of people are put together and their every interaction, including quite private activities is taped and viewed by an audience called upon to judge them. The result is not a reconnected community as they presume to achieve, but the institution of voyeurism and exhibitionism on different sides of a screen. Obscene images and words are filtered into our memory from which fantasies are drawn and hence repressed thoughts continue to inform our every action. Individualism and narcissism have led to collective perversion. The Pontifical Council for social communications asserts that the “perception of moral values and profound changes in the way people think and act have been affected by the social media and has resulted to the violations of human dignity and rights, as well as truncation of Christian values and ideals. This is because, according to the Council fathers, “individuals have converted the communication media into instruments of evil.”

Pornography is one of such demonic instrument. The internet is frequently patronised as vehicle for perpetuating this moral perversion. ‘Pornography’ the council warns, ‘debases sexuality, corrode human relationships, exploit individuals, undermine marriage and family life, foster anti-social behaviour and weakens the moral fibre of society itself.” Pornography breads sin!

A heart that tolerates pornography is often the target of a despairing moral emptiness. An empty heart hypes the pursuit of pleasure (hedonism) as the only achievable happiness by human beings”. Cardinal Piacenza (2011), compares the effect of this social assault with that created by original sin. According to him, “if original sin always rendered the psycho-sexual dimension of the human person particularly fragile, these recent significant changes have produced in it a veritable upheaval, acting no longer only in the private sphere of personal temptation, but becoming generalized customs and even shared culture, to the point that any other sort of behaviour now appears “weird” to popular opinion.” This is the culture in which seminarians are deeply immersed and from which, in the end, they originate and plunge into the seminary. 

The society masqueraded this way attempts to bread a twin-evil:  the trivialization of affectivity and the trivialization of sexuality. Sexuality becomes banal and less important in its definitive dimension. Everywhere we go, we find pornographic attitude, contraceptive mentality, abortive behaviour and homosexual tilting. Painfully, all this happen with the least prink of conscience. “It is no mystery that in such an environment some young people live a full exercise of genitality with the same nonchalance entailed in offering a handshake!”

Effects of moral pervasiveness on seminarians’ outlook

The above narrative of a society that has gone morally south suggests far-reaching implications for the seminarians’ struggle to be pure. With such moral perverted attitude, the seminarians that are being nursed for the sublime priesthood are affected thus:

  1. A false personality emerges; projecting the false self in interpersonal relationship as a way of massaging one’s ego
  2. A distortion of the psyche: we become disordered in our behaviour as everything is geared towards gratifying sensuality. Everything is sex and we are ready to devoir anything that stands on the way. Today, sex is being hawked on the street and indecency paraded as no man’s business
  3. A blurred vision of reality: here, we mistake illusion for reality as Myles Munroe says, “When a purpose is not known abuse is inevitable”. The seminarian is tempted to believe that the pop culture for instance is the ideal.
  4. A disturbed conscience: our conscience is indicted and we are daily accused that we are no longer able to conceive of ourselves as the beloved of God. Our judgement becomes blurred and distorted.
  5. A shake in the spiritual life: Here we are no longer able to love for the ultimate reason. Selfishness sets in and our relationship with God is mortgaged. Prayer vanishes and the desire to do good becomes a mirage. Our wilderness becomes thick and aridity sets in.

With all this in place, a new paradox sets in: how possible is the seminarian’s pursuits of purity? Would this not amount to a wild goose chase? An answer in the affirmative is simply an intellectual guess. It is pertinent that we give earnest heed to the voice that speaks to values that transcend and govern this temporal human existence- the Word of God.

The old way forward: salvaging the moral/spiritual compass

Beyond society’s prejudice, there is the beauty of informed human conscience; the moral judge/arbiter that scrutinises between good or bad actions. The synoptic Matthew (19:6) narrates that “a man came to him (Jesus) to ask, ‘Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?”  The man was young and rich but yet disturbed! He seems happy but yet unfulfilled! He had things but yet sad! His problem was simple: a troubled conscience, masterminded by the tension between being and having; the ‘spirit’ from above and ‘motivation’ from below. Nothing seems to give him happiness and suddenly he cries out and approached Truth himself-Jesus: “Teacher what good must I do?” The story ends saying: “he went home sad because he was a man of great wealth.”  Truthfully, we are people of ‘great wealth’, unwilling to let go the fantasies of the psyche, minds, and eyes; for fear that society might paint ‘poor.’ A person in society’s paradigm is morally poor for refusing to pledge allegiance to moral trivialization.

The ethical cum spiritual dilemma highlighted thus far, are clear indicators of a moral ambivalence and degradation of traditional and spiritual values. “What we need” Hendy (1998) suggests, “is a hunger for something else which might be more enduring and more worthwhile.” This ‘enduring something else’ is God and the beauty of his commandments: “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (5:20).

This ardent appeal is demanded of ‘people of clothes’. Coming from a culture that has altogether gone morally south, seminarians are caught in a festering web of confusion. In their radical aversion from the world, they are prone to temptations ad intra (within) and ad extra (without). Even the guiltless of persons acknowledges that the spiritual strength for tomorrow seem fragile. Consequent upon this, seminarians find themselves in a moral cum spiritual quagmire, confusion, and at best a juggled state. Our single task therefore is to relocate, secure and redirect the moral compass to its traditional moral north, for in it true happiness in the pursuit of purity lies.  

Staff (2001) defines a compass as a “relatively simple instrument, based on a simple concept. With its northward-facing needle, it is a consistent and true indicator of physical direction.” Prefixing ‘moral’ to compass paints a clear picture of mental processes that point a person in a particular direction.  Recall, it has been stated earlier that as a result of society’s moral ambivalence, the psyche, conscience and vision of persons have been wounded and apparently become blurred. To remedy the situation, it is demanded that insights be given at what takes place in the formation process of seminarians.

  1. The role of the formators

Integral formation of seminarians demands that the whole person, his affects and all that interacts with his effectiveness be considered. No more room for superficiality. This is an onerous task for seminary formators who, helmed with knowledge and requisite maturity, are to discern and distinguish clearly the culture informing the seminarian’s embrace of celibacy. The culture divide includes the traditional Christian culture and a new world order. To this end, a radical and progressive assumption of awareness is required both of formators and seminarians. The target is not merely trying to overcome vices against purity, but also to fight and overcome in themselves a sinful structure coming from and constantly re-proposed by the dominant culture.

Cardinal Piacenza (2011) refers to this dominant culture as disoriented and disorienting. The psycho-sexual and relational core of the person is affected. Thus, growing up and living in a hyper-eroticized culture and environment, the seminarian if not protected has no choice but to breathe in a disordered sexuality. In effect he becomes a victim of a psycho-affective drift and hence prefers to live a schizophrenic personality projected as holiness. The seminarian in such milieu is disordered and his solace is aggressive pan-sexualism.

Helping seminarians entangled in such climate to come out purified, demands that dimensions of affective formation be further looked into: purification of the memory, education of the present affective situation and awaiting prayerfully the gift of the priesthood and the corresponding grace of state.

  1. Purification of the memory

The purification of memory is needed at all levels of formation. Whether we have been protected by traditional Christian formation or were roaming the streets before being captured by divine seduction, seminarians like all men, are victims of the identified perverse moral culture. The difficulty in trying to purge one’s memory of ugly neurosis is that forgotten feelings are bound to resurface. Yet remembering these symptoms is index of integral healing. ‘Cleopas and the other disciple’ on the road to Emmaus were not ashamed to puncture their pessimistic knowledge of the resurrected Jesus. Even though Jesus came in their midst as a third party, the two further ignited their pessimism indicting Jesus of naive knowledge: ‘You must be the only one who does not know what has happening in Jerusalem these days? In their conclusion, they referred to the ‘yet-to-be known’ resurrected Jesus simply ‘as the Jesus who couldn’t keep to his promise…’ (Luke 24:13-35). This encounter is implied in the integral formation of seminarians as they march to the altar where in the daily breaking of bread we find joy.

Like Cleopas and the other disciple in the passage, a humble and sincere narration of our story, is needed if our conscience is to be purged of all negative cues that a perverse society has impacted in us. Their conscience borne within them and so too would ours. Rather than continuing on Emmaus’ road, they returned to the (seminary) at Jerusalem ready to bear the brunt of would-be disciples- a radical aversion from the world, its pleasures and allurement (I Jn. 2:15). Therefore, alone with God alone, seminarians must acknowledge and present their affective history to Him who alone acknowledges our frailty in charity. Cardinal Piacenza (2011) reiterates that “to remember means to cultivate a healthy realism without which no genuine path of healing is possible.”

The types of memory purification include:

  • Mental purity– all battle for purity begins in the mind. If we allow impure thoughts spawned by disappointments or idle fantasies remain unrepented, the result is rebellion and evil pursuit. The principle here is garbage in, garbage out.
  • Emotional purity– immoral affairs almost always begin with gradual emotional distancing from and transference of affections to another. Though this can be totally unintentional at the outset, denied during the process but devastating in the outcomes. Our affective knowledge needs to be purified.
  • Relationship purity; scripture warns that caution be exercised in building relationships (Prov. 13:20; 2 Thess. 3:6). Some relationships are not selfish; in fact they help affective maturity. Paige Benton (1997) acknowledges the beauty of singlehood thus: “I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me.”
  1. Education of the affective

The affective domain is where a man’s propensity for love, values, needs, relationship, desires, drives, motives and inclinations arises from. As such, the charism of celibacy does not undermine or modifies the natural inclination for affectivity and the urgings of the passions. The education of the affective proposes a restraint in our appetite for self-consciousness and sees some good in naïve consciousness. For instance, if the scriptural Adam and his wife Eve are brought before the altar of psychology, the first hypothesis would be that the story bothers on unrestraint exploration of the passion. The divine command was clear enough: “you are free to eat of all the trees in the garden. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat; for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die” (Gen. 2:16-17). Despite this, our first parents ate and by their action all of us have been generationally wounded. Acknowledging the fact that the church speaks of this wounding as ‘felix culpa’ (happy fault), Johnson (1989) relates the fall “as the graduation from naïve consciousness into self-consciousness.” This however, is not without implication. We have to leave the figurative ‘Garden of Eden’ before we can start the journey to affective maturity (Jerusalem).

Educating the affective state should involve our inclinations and urgings. This would impact in subduing the imagination of many that certainly the future of the church belongs to married priests. The proponents of this ‘wish’ deny any possible harmony of our inclinations and orgies. Beyond this, affective education confesses a positive harmony, and function to equip the seminarian with a veritable weapon of managing the battle of his life time- the urge to remain impure! According to Pope St. John Paul II, the needed affective education should be “prudent, able to renounce anything that is a threat to it, vigilant over both body and spirit, and capable of esteem and respect in interpersonal relationships between men and women” (PDV, no. 44).

Such education also distinguishes between physiological neuroses (which we all have) and pathological neuroses that require clinical intervention. Physiological neurosis is a little above the domain of psychology. Therefore, the employment of human sciences in diffusing appropriate state of the person, should be guided otherwise, it leads to de-structuring of personality and a presumed, but never achieved, restructuring of the same (Piacenza). What is needed is integral formation coupled with a prayerful intimacy with the Lord: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). By this, seminarians are assured that chaste celibacy with its demand for purity is a sign of personal redefinition. It is never an imposed burden as society seems to chorus. Little wonder then Cardinal Piacenza reassures; “it is neither our works of charity or social actions that are being attacked by the society but rather, our sublime embrace of chastity (purity) as a kingdom ideal.” This is what a perverse society cannot tolerate. You and I are mad people in their perception! We must never mind; for by our choice we bear witness that God is love and love is practicable!

A seminarian should therefore cultivate a humble yet radical fidelity to daily Mass, the Divine Office, Eucharistic adoration, mental prayer (also daily), and the holy Rosary if the embrace of purity as chastity would make sense in our ‘confusing’ time. These put together define the personality of an ardent seminarian.

  1. Prayerful waiting for the gift of priesthood

Our desire to remain pure is not an illusion. Purity is the core of priestly life and the soul of discernment. Thus, a seminarian is called to cultivate a prayerful countenance. The seminary is typified as an upper room. Like the Upper Room of Jerusalem, candidates for the priesthood are nurtured and formed in prayer, awaiting the impartation of the spirit through the bishop’s anointing of Chrism at ordination. In behaviour and attitude, seminarians must show that they have witnessed the Risen Lord. Docility, obedience and learning characterise the upper room model. Like Saint Benedict in his Rule confirms, “the search for God” should be the motif of our entry into the seminary since every wrong motif blocks genuine conversion.”

Impurity is obstacle in the way. To this end, the seminary as a formative and transitional community entails the process of ‘future-plunging’ into the deep. To be successful, a prayerful waiting is necessary. “Prayer is not an interruption of the things we need to do. We should rather say that we sometimes interrupt prayer in order to do other things, and even in those other works we must keep a spirit of prayer” (Cardinal Piacenza). To this end, cultivating attitude of personal prayer, silence, meditation and space for real divine intimacy along line respect for communal prayer is a must for the seminarians along the path of purity.

Conclusions

The discussion thus far has shed light on the moral perversion of society and its attempt to disorientate the emotional affectivity of persons who are called to embrace chaste (pure) celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. The study reviews the difficulty in wanting to ostracise the 21st century seminarian from the society. As such, our psyche has been affected, conscience wounded and vision blurred. Cues towards salvaging the seminarian’s conscience demand we purify our memory, appreciate the role affect education and an embrace of a prayerful attitude. All this boils down to one fact: the seminarian of today will be the priest of tomorrow! To be happy therefore, every seminarian while ignoring society’s gospel of moral perversion, must strive for purity. Purity is noble!

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.