What is the appropriate relationship with women while in the seminary?
Thank for all your answers. I am a young man who will be joining the seminary soon and am troubled about my closeness to my female pals. Can it in any way affect my seminary life or what can you advise?
Congratulations on your decision to enter the seminary, you can be sure of my prayers.
You ask a very important question that I am sure you are not alone in feeling. Your question reflects two things especially, on the one hand your natural and good desire to be faithful to your friends, and on the other your intuition that since as a priest you will be committed to a celibate life, your dealings with women, even those who are your friends now, must change in some way. Or rather, in a significant way.
It can be helpful in this regard to take as a point of reference what usually happens in the development of human friendship and love. Things often go like this: you have a more or less stable circle of friends who do things together and see each other a lot. Little by little, within the group or outside it, friendships become more particular, certain people begin to spend more time with each other, and these personal friendships become deeper, more stable and exclusive; eventually, they evolve into love, commitment and marriage. As this happens, the other friendships diminish in relevance, and if there is a conflict one always resolves it in favor of one's marriage commitment.
When you join the seminary, Jesus is inviting you to bring your friendship with him to a deeper level of exclusivity and commitment that will eventually reach its perfection in your total consecration to him in the celibate priesthood. So when we join the seminary it is time to dedicate ourselves more exclusively to him, which leads us to start removing from our hearts and minds any other friendship that could possibly get in the way or distract us from our exclusive friendship and identification with Christ. Since the enemy of our soul is always active, he tries to use memories of past friendships and the feelings of our heart to distract us and discourage us from abandoning our whole lives to him; we have to make sure that we do not play into his hands by giving too much a place to those memories and feelings.
All of this requires sacrifice and control, and we get the strength and willingness to do so from the Eucharist and our personal prayer.