I recently preached a parish mission for a priest friend down South. I decided to base my talks on Robert Cardinal Sarah’s book God or Nothing. Going through the book for a second time only increased my appreciation for the spiritual depth of its reflections on the life of the Church and in particular, on the need for believers to truly embrace a life of total dedication to God. Cardinal Sarah speaks with affectionate candor about what he received from the French missionaries who evangelized his native Guinea. They were heroes who joyfully did their duty, day in and day out, in a faraway land, with the fervor and endurance of the Apostles.
I was struck by something he said about his time in the seminary:
“When I think back to my seminary years, I remember a large number of rules that helped us to control our instincts. For example, it was positively forbidden to take even the smallest snack outside of meals. In the superiors’ view, someone who could not obey that strict dietary rule did not have a vocation; indeed, he was not capable of controlling one of his natural needs. This discipline of body was essential in the discernment of future priests. I have not forgotten that it was absolutely forbidden to go to the dormitory outside of the hours prescribed by the rule. Our entire days were considered in terms of a discipline of the mind and body. This asceticism was understood as a path of sanctification and an imitation of Jesus.”
Read more at The Catholic Thing.