The Principles behind the Propaedeutic Seminary Course run at the Royal Scots College are agreed by the Bishops of Scotland, and match up to what the Church as a whole expects it to contain.
Click here for a description of the course as a whole.
Nonetheless, there are aspects – such as the calendar of courses and the daily timetable – which are worked out in the College itself, to suit the needs of the seminarians and the demands of living in Spain for these six months.
The overall Calendar of courses looks like this:
January – The students attend classes in Spanish each morning at the Pontifical University of Salamanca. In the afternoons, there are classes on themes in Liturgy, to help them get accustomed to the daily prayer of the Divine Office and to reflect on the centrality of the Mass for our community life. There is usually also an opportunity to reflect on Pope St John Paul II’s document on Priestly Formation, “Pastores Dabo Vobis” (“I Will Give you Shepherds”).
February – Courses offered look at aspects of the Spiritual Life and at traditions and practices in prayer. Throughout February and into March, there is also a focus becoming familiar with the Sacred Scriptures. We usually begin looking at aspects of “Human Formation” too.
March – We continue exploring Sacred Scriptures, perhaps (depending on the timing of Easter) taking time to explore the Psalms in particular. There is reflection on the person of Christ at this point too – the figure we find in the Gospels, the person whom we profess as Lord, the one who calls us to follow him. We often resume our reflection in “Human Formation” and perhaps also start to look at the Church’s history.
April – Much of what happens in April is determined by the timing of Holy Week and Easter. The former will involve a number of days of silent retreat while the latter will be marked both by the celebration of the Sacred Triduum and by a week’s holiday. After a busy 3 months, the students need it! Around that time, and in particular after Easter, we start to explore the Church, our faith and the Creed.
May – We continue exploring “Our Faith” in various aspects, including time to study and become familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a useful tool for everyone, but indispensable for students of theology in particular. Our reflection on the Church brings us to further our discovery of the Church’s history – and the history of the Church in Scotland in particular. As the month goes on, we move from “Our Faith” to “Sharing Our Fath” and explore aspects of catechetics, evangelisation and Mission in the Church today. Some time in May or into early June, we offer further input on areas relevant to “Human Formation” and, in particular, training in Safeguarding.
June – “Sharing our Faith” gives way to “Living” and “Celebrating Our Faith”: courses take up themes such as Catholic Moral Thinking and an Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching as well as the Sacraments. As we are coming to the end of this phase of formation, we start looking ahead to the next, for instance by looking towards the study of Philosophy and – time permitting – looking at some issues which might be relevant to the kinds of pastoral placements students might be given over the summer back in their Dioceses. We always end with some days of silent retreat, to reflect on the experience of the months past and think about where we are heading in terms of our future vocational journey.
As well as the broad sweep of courses, each month is punctuated by times of recollection or retreat. These may be longer – as in Holy Week or at the end of the course – or simple mornings of Recollection when time is given to be “offline” from studies and so on simply to focus in prayer. In addition, excursions are organised at various points in the course, as opportunities to enjoy and explore the area of Spain around the College. Exploration of the teachings of the masters from the Carmelite tradition, for instance St Teresa of Ávila and St John of the Cross, takes us to Ávila itself and to Segovia. To gain a sense of the history of our local Church in Scotland, we visit Valladolid and the home of the College from 1771-1988. Toledo, Ciudad Rodrigo and the Dominican Monastery and shrine of Our Lady of La Peña de Francia are also within striking distance. Lastly, there are free weekends at the end of February and May respectively, when the students are free to explore something of Spain on their own initiative — perhaps Madrid, Santiago de Compostela or one of the cities of Andalucía such as Granada or Córdoba.
And the daily programme? The day looks more or less like this…
8.00am Morning Prayer and Meditation
9.15-10.00am Class 1
10.05-10.50am Class 2
10.50-11.10am Coffee Break
11.10-11.55am Class 3
12.00-12.45pm Class 4
5.00-5.45pm Class / Seminar (when applicable)
5.50-6.35pm Class / Seminar (when applicable)
7.00pm Conference / Spiritual Exercise /Liturgy Prep (when applicable)
8.10pm Evening Prayer
9.30pm Night Prayer