To prevent any widespread outbreak of meat consumption* and other hazards, we are kept very busy by our classwork and obediences. An obedience refers to any directed task done by a monastic or, in this case, a seminarian. I won't get preachy, but the Church Fathers say that learning obedience is the most important stepping stone to salvation, since it teaches us humility. Seminarians here get several different kinds of obedience:
- Dormitory maintenance. First-years have to help clean the dorm once a week. Last Saturday, I got the basement, which was actually very simple to do. I got rid of all the ruins of a once-great spider civilization, and the basement was more or less clean.
- Regular obediences. Throughout the year, we aid the monastery in its various activities. Some seminarians work very hard in maintaining the grounds and making sure the place doesn't get too scruffy. Others work in more urbane settings, like in the library. As I mentioned in a previous post, I got assigned to work in the bookstore, which has gotten pretty high-tech in the last year; our system keeps track of inventory, and we even have barcodes on many of our books!
- Dishwashing. First-years get assigned to wash dishes every week. One seminarian washes the small dishes/cups/etc. and the other washes the large pots and pans. I wash the big pots and pans every Wednesday after lunch and dinner. It currently takes me about an hour and a half to do the washing. By big pots and pans, I mean big. Giant. Large enough to baptize triplets in. Cooking enough food to feed thirty seminarians, twenty (more or less) monastics, and various lay workers, not to mention pilgrims, takes a lot of time and effort. Our kitchen has a very large sink divided in two for the big pots, and, opposite, an industrial-strength dishwasher.
*We're allowed to eat meat, but all our meals in the refectory are meatless.