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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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A course on the social apostolate

by Gellért Török

Although the first objective of the novitiate is not study, the different courses are part of our life, helping to deepen some aspects of the Society and the life of the Jesuit.

This Monday and Tuesday Father Remondini, a Jesuit from the community of Turin, came to talk to us about the social apostolate of the Society of Jesus. We had two intense days, with so much richness, inspiration and thoughts for reflection.

On Monday morning we started from the roots, which is the experience of Saint Ignatius, then we briefly saw how this area has developed over the centuries: what were the most important moments and the people who made the changes. We continued with the situation of our days, seeing some Italian but also foreign examples. We made acquaintance – in addition to the various institutions and realities – with a method, a process of Ignatian pedagogy, which can be used in many areas. During the course it was not only Father Remondini who spoke, but also we could share our experiences, express our questions, opinions, doubts. This also brought a lot of color. A particularly beautiful moment of the day was watching a film together after dinner, which presented a very interesting and particular reality, the life of the people of a small village in the Amazon region, in Bolivia, where an Italian missionary has been working for many years.

The second day was no less rich than the first, indeed.

The focus was on human relationships which are the most important part of social activity and where the heart of this ministry can be found. Also because usually we are not sociologists, and often we cannot even solve a problem, but what we can give, what we can do is to be present in the situation, to listen, to accompany – and in that way grow something within the other and equally within ourselves. Speaking of the last and the poor of our society, very legitimate but not simple questions have come up, to show that alongside the beauty there are always many challenges and difficulties, even complex ones. At the end of the day we closed with a sharing of our reflections.

I am personally very grateful for this course, which helped me to discover many things. I will definitely take them with me, trying above all to put them into practice.

Gellért Török, novice of the first year

A testimony from isolation

by Guglielmo Scocco

Since May 11 I have been isolated as the only one in the community still positive for the dear old virus, which has been my companion for almost three months now.

If some time ago they had told me that I would be in my room for a month almost without contact with the outside world and that I would have survived, I would have taken them for crazy. This condition is unnatural to me, it does not reflect my inclinations, my being a social animal – more animal than social – and yet it is giving me peace. In this condition that I would never have chosen for myself, like many of the things that have done me most good in life, I am finding peace. A peace that comes from the depths, that is not the result of a thousand calculations or efforts to obtain it, that is not sought but waited for, and perhaps this is its secret. Within the emptying of the four walls, after a first moment of ordinary and due madness, one begins to listen. One begins to listen. One begins to listen to oneself, deeply. Not because listening is beautiful or comforting or idyllic or surreal or romantic – none of the above – but because nothing else can be done. When we are forced into our isolation cell, whether it is that of a monastery, a prison or the house in which we live, our barriers collapse. My limit becomes apparent to me, my strength becomes weakness, my facade melts away, I have no more excuses, no more distractions and, above all, no more expectations. I am alone with myself. My deepest desires, often hidden by the desires of others about me, which I adopt without belonging to me, return to the surface. I have no more excuses, I no longer have another on which to project my efforts and my lies: I am in deep and true contact with myself, and that is all. Good riddance! A liberation from one’s superego, from having to be, from appearance: everything is transformed and becomes truth. And the truth makes us free, as someone said. In the most flat and deafening and empty calm that we often and willingly escape, miraculously, we discover new noises and sensations, which we had never heard before, because we had not allowed ourselves to. Precisely that place of apparent loneliness and abyss and aridity and desolation that I have fled like a murderer all my life, is giving me a new life, a life that does not need to feel like living – raising the bar more and more as in a sense of perennial revenge and frustration – because it already lives, and lives in peace. How many times have I fled before a poor man who begged for my love and my presence behind his outstretched hand? How many times have I fled in front of a brother or sister who behind a word of anger towards me hid a deep need for love? How many times, even today, do I continue to flee in front of this sense of emptiness that clings to my heart? And here I say to you: do not be afraid! We are no longer afraid to listen to this emptiness, to inhabit it, we will discover that it bothers us because it asks us to overcome ourselves, our insane habits, it asks us to listen to ourselves, to let out our weaknesses and frailties without fear, because we all have them. Don’t pretend that you don’t have them, as everyone else does, only to look like righteous people in the eyes of the world: you will be unjust in the eyes of love, of that love according to which we will be – and we are already – judged. How much more beautiful it is to live with an open heart, without the anxiety and fear of having to hide one’s limits!

Guglielmo Scocco, first year novice

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