A seminarian’s plan of life

Proposal of St. Antony Mary Claret

Dearest seminarian, if you would not extinguish or sadden the spirit and grace you have received on Ordination[1] (for by the grace of God you are what you are), if you would not have received the grace of God in vain, and if, finally, you would like to be a good and faithful servant, then you must distribute your time well in a plan of life which you must keep most faithfully. You may use the one which we are going to trace out for you here, or else use some other that may seem better for you.

1. Every year. You will make a spiritual retreat.

2. Every three months. On the Ember Days, you will call to mind your ordination, as we have said above.

3. Every month. You will have a day of recollection, during which you will read your resolutions.

4. Every week. You will receive the Sacrament of Penance.

5. Every day. You will set the hour for rising, after six or seven hours of sleep, and you will be punctual in rising at that time, without allowing yourself to be misled by Satan into committing an act of sloth.

6. You will offer God all the works of the day.

7. You will have an hour, or at least half an hour, of mental prayer.

8. You will celebrate Holy Mass with devotion, preparing yourself in advance and giving thanks afterwards.

9. You will station yourself in the confessional, even when there may be no one waiting to confess; for if they do not come one day, they will come another, seeing that you give them the opportunity.

10. You will recite the lesser Hours with pauses and with devotion.

11. You will occupy yourself by studying the Holy Bible, the Fathers of the Church, moral and ascetical theology, and you will make a special point of reading Rodrfguez.

12. You will dine not only with temperance, but also with mortification, saying the blessing before and grace after meals.

13. After dining and resting a while, you will recite Vespers and Compline.

14. Afterwards, you will commit yourself to studying matters proper of your holy ministry.

15. In the afternoon you will visit the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and you will likewise visit Mary Most Holy atone of her images.

16. You will visit the sick in their homes or in some hospital or charitable establishment.

17. At night you will recite Matins and Lauds attentively and devoutly before some blessed image.

18. You will recite one part of the Holy Rosary with great fervour.

19. You will have a light supper or collation, and this will be very good for both body and soul.

20. You will make two examens: a particular Examen on some virtue at noon and night, and a general Examen which will include everything that occurred during that day.

21. Finally, you will preview the meditation you are to make on the morrow, and then retire. Once you are in bed, you will think of the time for rising next day, and of the meditation you are going to make.

22. Always. You will wear clerical dress.

23. You will walk in the presence of God and make frequent prayers of aspiration. Especially, whenever the clock strikes, you will consider what Jesus suffered at that hour of his Passion, and you will make a spiritual communion.

24. You will love God with all your heart, and in proof of this love you will keep the precepts of God’s holy law and the evangelical counsels.139

25. You will keep the sacred vestments and vessels very clean and tidy, and the Church in good array, and see to it that silence and recollection is kept in it.

26. You will strive with all possible zeal for the salvation of souls. You will lead the way with good example, practicing the virtues of humility, chastity, meekness, patience, charity and obedience, without grumbling about the dispositions God has made through your prelate.

27. You will be solicitous and tireless in preaching, catechizing, hearing confessions and administering the other Sacraments.

28. In all your works, think on the Last Things. Thus, consider that life is passing by and death is drawing nigh. Hence, never be idle, but always usefully employed in prayer, study, the obligations of your holy ministry and, if you have time and place for it, in some manual labour.

29. You will arrange you devotions according to the days of the week, so that you may make them with greater fervour.

Sundays will be in honour of the Blessed Trinity. Mondays, of your guardian angel.

Tuesdays, of your Patron Saint.

Wednesdays, on behalf of the poor.

Thursdays, in honour of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fridays, in memory of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and in prayer for the souls in Purgatory. And you will fast.

Saturdays, in honour of Mary. And you will mortify yourself in some way.

[1] The first Claretian seminarians were ordained priests. Claret is addressing them