What is a ‘seminary?

For most who are discerning a vocation to Holy Orders, the path to service begins with the path to seminary. The word ‘seminary‘ means ‘seed bed.’ That is, literally,  a garden. Specifically, a seed bed for those discerning a vocation to ordained ministry – usually the priesthood. Seeds must be planted, nourished, watered, and protected from pests and blight until they can grow, mature and bear fruit.

This is the purpose of a seminary.

Originally, those who were called or were pursuing Holy Orders gathered around the local bishop, and went with him to services, prayer and instruction at the Cathedral. Today, seminaries are centers of spiritual effort and advancement, formation, academics and discipline. Any seminary that falls short in any of these areas should not be taken seriously by any aspirant to Holy Orders.

 St Athanasius Major Seminary- reader Readers

“My son, the first degree in the Priesthood is that of Reader. It behooveth thee therefore to peruse the divine Scriptures daily, to the end that the hearers, regarding thee may receive edification; that thou in nowise shaming thine election, mayest prepare thyself for a higher degree. For by a chaste, holy and upright life thou shalt gain the favor of the God of loving-kindness, and shalt render thyself worthy of a greater ministry, through Jesus Christ our Lord: to whom be glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

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 priest-pix Holy Priesthood

Marriage is not a barrier to Holy Orders, Most of the Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Disciples were married, except John the beloved, the youngest that was not married. At the beginning of the Church, the earlier Bishops, Priests, Popes and Patriarchs were married till eleventh century when celibacy became compulsory in the Western Church known as Roman Catholic and the Eastern Church known as Orthodox has maintained the Holy Tradition of allowing married men to Holy Orders, a tradition that was observed by both lungs of the Church before the separation of East and West.  Late Pope John Paul II rightly put “it is time to allow the both lungs of the church to breath together again“.

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 St Athanasius Major Seminary - monastic Monastics

The innermost spiritual sense of Orthodox Monasticism is revealed in joyful mourning. This paradoxical phrase denotes a spiritual state in which a monk in his prayer grieves for the sins of the world at at the same time experiences the regenerating spiritual joy of Christ’s forgiveness and resurrection. A monk dies in order to live, he forgets himself in order to find his real self in God, he becomes ignorant of worldly knowledge in order to attain real spiritual wisdom which is given only to the humble ones.

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 St Athanasius Major Seminary Clergy Wives

New Testament references to the presbyter/bishop and the deacon as married clerics are few. It is St. Paul’s two epistles, I Timothy and Titus, to which we must turn for the scriptural listing of qualifications for these offices, and for their role as husband and parent. The requirements are stated briefly, but they provide an insight into the Christian understanding of the whole complex of the husband/parent relationship in the priest’s family. Both letters state that the bishop/presbyter must be “the husband of one wife.” Obviously, this expression implies a qualifier, “if married,” since the Apostle would hardly insist that marriage be a universal requisite for ordination.

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 St Athanasius Major Seminary - married-mona
Married Life and Asceticism

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 St Athanasius Major Seminary

Marriage or Monasticism?

Most young people don’t know how to discover their vocation or calling in life. Either to dedicate themselves to monasticism or select the marriage path. Some have the feeling that monasticism is a more superior choice than marriage and that marriage represents a lower situation. Others believe that any young man who chooses to become a monk is a coward who avoids the responsibilities of citizenship. However, the Byzantine Orthodox Church gives you opportunity to become Married Monk. This way, you can be monk or nun and married to fellow nun or monk, while you lead your prayers lives together in a community solely built for such purpose.

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Other Consecrated lives

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