A very important part of the formation of a young seminarian is the spiritual aspect. The minor seminary helps to form this part of their lives through daily Mass, frequent Confession, Eucharistic Adoration, monthly retreats (which include the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola), spiritual reading, and spiritual direction.
The sacraments, especially that of the Eucharist, are the most essential part of the spiritual formation of a seminarian as a personal encounter with Jesus Christ Himself. For a seminarian, the Eucharist must not just affect him the moment he receives it in Holy Communion; as St. Peter Julian Eymard says, "Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross." Hence, the seminarian must strive to live with his Eucharist Lord day-long: beginning with Mass and ending with Eucharistic Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Yet, not only is it salutary for the seminarian to encounter Christ as our Eucharistic Love but also as the Merciful Savior in the sacrament of Confession who heals all our ills. No one sums this truth up better than St. Thomas Aquinas: "In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason, he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance." For this reason, reception of the sacrament of Confession is encouraged on a weekly to every other week basis.
Retreats and Spiritual Direction
St. Louis' last words to his son before he died were, "Make frequent confession, and choose thee a good confessor, who shall faithfully teach thee in the way of salvation.” In the interest of ensuring that a student has a priest to whom he can go for spiritual guidance or support, each student is expected to have a Spiritual Director. As such, the spiritual director occupies a chief place in a young seminarian’s spiritual formation; he directs, guides, and helps the seminarian along the long road to perfection. Hence, any and all specifics regarding the conversations between the seminarian and Spiritual Director are “internal forum,” that is, they are between the priest and seminarian alone and no else.
A personal relationship with Christ is essential to the perseverance of a seminarian in His vocation. While Spiritual Direction provides guidance, it remains for the minor to strengthen his resolve in the spiritual life. Hence, once a month, the minors are given a one-day silent retreat which allows the minors to renew their commitment to God and strengthen their love for Him. This retreat typically consists in a series of three meditations, each followed by personal reflection, a communal spiritual conference, and is concluded with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.
Devotion to Mary and the Saints
Many of the minor seminarians give themselves as slaves to Jesus through Mary with St. Louis de Montfort's true dovotion to Mary. Many of the saints practiced this same devotion through the centuries.
"St. Francis Borgia always doubted the perseverance of those in whom he did not find particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin. On one occasion he questioned some novices as to the saints towards whom they had special devotion, and perceiving some who had it not towards Mary, he instantly warned the Master of novices, and desired him to keep a more attentive watch over these unfortunate young men, who all, as he had feared, lost their vocation and renounced the religious state.”
- The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori