Launching into the Semester!

I woke up around 3:30 a.m., got up and returned to the Epistemology grind. By noon, I felt ready to take the first online quiz of the semester – which wasn’t due for two weeks! 

Welcome to article 19 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Br. Josh, MIC, a second-year seminarian at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. It is the continuation of Br. Josh's previous column, "Novice Notes." Watch for a new column every Friday.

By Br. Josh, MIC 

When Br. Jeff returned from his vacation on Saturday evening, Jan. 13, I was comfortably relaxing at our Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. I had purchased new books for classes, knocked out chores, done a marathon training run, and was feeling relaxed.

Brother Jeff has graying hair and beard, and an honest, friendly face. We like cooking together, chatting and watching an old TV series, “The Twilight Zone.” He’s just nice to be around. 

“Great to have you back!” I exclaimed with a smile, joining him in the hallway near his room. 

“Hey!” he said, pointing at me, his way of honoring people he likes. 

Swiftly, he announced, “Epistemology is up, and Professor Gage wants us to start work now!” 

His news jolted my world. 

Intense study
Epistemology is an online class I’m taking with a beloved professor who gives his students a lot of work. 

Professor Gage is second to none at making difficult, extremely dense subject matter clearer. I like to take his classes when I know they’re foundational, as I trust him to help me understand the key issues. Epistemology, which clarifies how we know, is very foundational. 

Unfortunately for me, there’s a horrible “monster” lurking in me somewhere deep down that occasionally surges to the surface and beats me up. It makes me perform long runs, do penance, and study intensely. As soon as Br. Jeff gave his news, it flared up. 

The spring semester was supposed to start on January 16, but for me, it immediately flung itself into full gear. 

I studied on Sunday, but because it’s a day of rest, I only worked for a few hours.

On Monday, I got up around 4:00 a.m. and listened to more of Professor Gage’s online, recorded lectures, typing down notes all the while at about 70 words per minute. I have a B.A. in Literary Journalism, and all my writing experience comes in handy.

None of my other classes were open, so Professor Gage was getting all my energy. Monday was a full work day, for me, and it ended around 8:30 p.m. when I returned to our House of Studies from a RCIA meeting at Holy Family Parish.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up around 3:30 a.m., got up and returned to the Epistemology grind. By noon, I felt ready to take the first online quiz of the semester – which wasn’t due for two weeks! 

I got 96.7% correct, and felt good . . . but also worn down, a little frayed around the edges.

Brainless fun
I had lunch with some novices and seminarians afterward. 

One of our novices, Philip, asked, “Anyone want to go outside with me to sled down the hill?”

The day was bright and the ground covered with snow. 

“It might be too powdery,” a brother mentioned.

However, I was interested. I hadn’t done any sledding since I was with the Franciscans of the Immaculate, stationed at their friary in New York State, around 10 years ago. 

I was very tired and needed to sleep, but I also needed something else . . . Some simple, brainless fun. 

So, we went out. We were indeed brainless, and we did indeed have fun. 

We zoomed down the hills around the House of Studies, riding plastic box lids. Some children played nearby and one of them eventually offered me his sled. I used it once and it went far further. 

Philip and I slid down on our chests, and on our backs, feet first and then head first, and one time I slid straight off my make-shift “sled” and kept sliding forward across the snow about 25 feet more, with no sled at all, before stopping! (Don’t try this at home.)

I had snow all over and under my clothes.

Eventually, we stopped and made beautiful snow angels at the bottom of the hill. 

Philip started a snowball fight with me, entertaining me by falling over every time I hit him with a snowball. Afterward, we lay around in the sun on our “sleds” and chatted for a while.

In the end, I went indoors, crashed in bed, and slept soundly. That night, I slept 9 hours. It was a delightfully restful end to the crazy study blitz.

Next: "A Call That Pierces Families."
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