“Come climb this mountain with me.” Christ asks this of each seminarian as He did His favored apostles Peter, James, and John at the foot of Mount Thabor. Now, this mountain can symbolize many spiritual realities, but for the seminarian it is most conspicuously the acquisition of knowledge. The priest must be a man of learning.
As St. Pius X insists, this learning must be predominantly the science of God, so that when the little ones ask the bread of doctrine there may be someone to break it for them. During the first year, the year of Humanities, the young man augments his knowledge of History, Grammar, Latin, and Religion, while familiarizing himself with Seminary life and silence.
This year quickly passes and is followed by the year of Spirituality. During this second year, the seminarian immerses himself in the study of the spiritual life, of the Magisterium of the Church, and of the Liturgy. With the aid of grace, he obtains a deep understanding of the solemn office to which he aspires, and incorporates this knowledge into every aspect of his life in order to prepare himself to grasp the more difficult studies of Philosophy and Theology.
It goes without saying that the goal, a well-trained intellect and rightly formed conscience capable of penetrating more deeply the mysteries of God, is worth every effort necessary to obtain it. But, as the young man gazes up at the towering obstacle of this two-fold study and struggles to grasp each new axiom and syllogism, he must take courage in the words of Archbishop Lefebvre, “[the seminarian] will acquire a perfect knowledge of the writings of the Angelic Doctor and notably of the Summa Theologica,” knowing that the reward is well worth the sacrifice. The routine may tire him, but he presses on, certain that he cannot love a God he does not know. Equally important, he cannot pass this love on to his flock without first possessing it himself.