By Samuel Shaffer (Cohort 7)
My main consolation during COVID has been community. My year as a Seton Teaching Fellow opened with a 14-day quarantine upon entering the Bronx and this period of seclusion created a strong culture of prayer in the men’s community. We began the day with the Laudes Divine Office reading, prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the afternoon, had Mass online after, and closed the day with a Holy Rosary. Personal devotions were also peppered throughout. While our school year duties pared down our initial routine, this time established a solid spiritual base.
The key to our concord is prayer. While our men’s community is composed of six sinners, I attribute our harmony to the Blessed Mother’s intercession. Our devotion to the Holy Rosary has made “good works flourish” and “decreased sin,” and is a major bonding agent for us men. It is beautiful to witness our personalities bloom. “The Big Brother” reality TV franchise capitalized on the spectacle created by the disorder of strangers sharing a house. Only Jesus Christ can make a house of strangers into a home of friends. Composed of cradle Catholics, converts, and reverts, pulled from all corners of America, we all share the same Master, “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). St. Paul preached, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12:12). We all profit from one man’s gift as a communicator; or another man’s intellect; entertained by a musician; amused by one man’s art; recollected by one man’s call to prayer; share in one’s man’s joy as the life of the party. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it,” taught St. Paul (1 Cor 12:26). One man goes on a date, the rest celebrate for him and call upon St. Raphael’s intercession. One man has a midnight trip to the emergency room, another accompanies him without hesitation. While secular culture attempts to mar true masculinity either by stifling its authentic expression or lionizing a wicked caricature of it, God’s greatest blessing to me this year is the chance to grow as a Catholic man with five other young men striving to imitate Christ.
Living with the men is easily my favorite gift this year, but I don’t want to paint an excessively idealized picture of community life. Prayer sands down many of our vices, but we are still six fallen men. This has been a golden chance to grow in prudence, courage, and gentleness in the art of addressing conflict. And learning to suffer the fault of a brother quietly, while he suffers mine, serves to perfect our community.
To give a peek at a typical weekend, we begin Saturday morning with a Holy Hour, followed by a community meeting, and then a house clean up. After our work is complete, then comes the BDO. “What is the ‘The BDO,’ you ask? Why, Boys Day Out, of course. Like the time we went to Charlie’s Tavern for a quart of beer, or the American Museum of Natural History. Or what about the rosary we prayed at Battery Park and the dashing photos we took at the pier, perfect for Catholic Match profile or a PureFlix films application. But who could forget the trip to the Church of the Holy Innocents in the Garment District to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the traditional form, followed by dinner at Black Iron Burgers where we discussed what role in medieval times would be most fitting for each of us. If that’s not enough, we enjoy a simple meal on Fridays of rice and beans and watch The Mandalorian.
If you are a young man who loves the Our Lord, the Seton Teaching Fellow is a great opportunity to serve Him and His church. The church needs men who are willing to give themselves to the Kingdom of God and pursue sanctity. Do not pass up this chance! God will richly bless you during this year of service.
Samuel Shaffer (Cohort 8) graduated from Tumple University in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and works with our 4th grade students at Brilla College Prep Elementary School.