6:40 AM, and my hand slams down on the alarm. I pull myself from bed, struggling to remember where I am. On a good day I get all the way to the shower before realizing that where I am is not in bed. The next twenty minutes is a confusing jumble of grabbing the wrong shampoo and attempting to find matching socks. I collapse into my chair in the chapel at 7:03, before fumbling through my breviary to make sure I've got the pages right. When the clock strikes five-past we all rise, and a lone voice breaks the silence, "O Lord, open our lips." I form the first words of my day, joining the song with 30 others as we chant, "and we shall proclaim Your praise!" My day has begun as it does every morning: in prayerful song, focused on the praise of God. For guys like me in the house, this is the first coherent thought of the day. This peaceful moment, robed in song, will set the pace for the hours to come.
Last year, I had a guest from home stay at the seminary for a few days. He slept in the house, ate in the refectory, and prayed with us in the chapel. At the end of his visit, he told me that his time in the chapel was more conducive to prayer than anything he had experienced in decades. "You can't help but hear God in that chapel. When everyone sings, it's as if the angels stopped the world around us and brought us face-to-face with the Lord." His words, but I couldn't agree more.
The seminarians of Holy Cross are impossibly busy. The men are students, teachers, catechists, evangelists, athletes, and caretakers. Each of us has a daily schedule that is both chaotic and unique. But we all have one thing in common: we come together as a community, twice a day, to pray in the chapel. And when we gather there, the world actually does stop, and we find ourselves together in God's presence.
When I went home last Christmas, one of the first things my pastor asked me about was the liturgical life in the seminary. An important question, since spiritual growth is central to our formation. After all, the priest that fails to pray sterilizes his capacity to lovingly give himself to his flock. My answer to the pastor's question? Prayer at Moreau is fulfilling. My time spent with my brothers in the chapel praying the Divine Office, attending Mass, or adoring the Blessed Sacrament is truly a gift from God. He uses this time to revive me, giving me energy for studying and working in the local community. The liturgical life of the seminary isn't overly complicated or involved, nor is it political. It's simply prayerful. My time in the chapel equips me with the grace needed to study, serve, and discern. As the sun sets, I find myself thankful for the way I greeted the dawn: united with my brothers in a joyful song of praise.
Mr. Joshua Bathon is a Postulant at Moreau Seminary. He and his fellow Postulants write for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation in Moreau. He is a senior at the University of Notre Dame, studying history and philosophy. He completed three years in the Old College Program. Learn more about Josh and his classmates who are in formation for priesthood and religious life in Holy Cross.