Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus

A life which inspires other lives

by Nicolò Lorenzetto

March 2022: in a Jesuit novitiate, it is time for anniversaries. In March 1522 the young Íñigo López de Loyola, still at the beginning of his spiritual journey, was on his way to the Marian monastery of Montserrat and from there to Manresa. Then the memory goes to March 12th, 1622, the day on which Ignatius and Francis Xavier were proclaimed saints by Pope Gregory XV, together with Teresa of Ávila, Philip Neri and Isidore the Farmer… No, don’t worry: in the Novitiate we don’t study names and dates with anxiety about future exams! Only in order to travel through the pages of the Autobiography of St Ignatius of Loyola, the pilgrim, as he liked to call himself.

The story begins with the war wound of Pamplona; it goes through the convalescence in Loyola, the ten decisive months spent in Manresa, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the periods of study in Barcelona, Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca, the long years of “gestation” of the Society of Jesus in Paris. Then, after leaving France, the return to his native land, the reunion with his Parisian companions in Venice, the months spent with St Peter Favre and James Laínez in Vicenza, until the final journey, to Rome, where he would spend the last 18 years of his life.

The pilgrim stops, he who had covered thousands of kilometers on foot, alone or together with those who had joined him along the way. While Francis Xavier was already on a missionary journey to announce the Gospel in distant lands, from India to Japan to the gates of China, Ignatius remained in Rome, directing the new religious order approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. However, the pilgrim’s movement was not interrupted, but turned into an inner journey, always in search of God’s will, through prayer, reading of the signs of reality, to give shape to the new Order.

Seen in this light, the Autobiography does not lose the charm that attracts all fans of travel books, but it reveals itself in its deepest nature: that of the story of the life of a man who let himself be met by God, fell in love with Him, set himself in motion and sought his own way to realize a life project with Him.

There is therefore a gradualness, lived as a journey, which for us represents a source of hope, and an invitation to look to our own future with an attitude of authentic openness to God’s surprises, of which a first strong experience was the Month of Spiritual Exercises (see the article “The heart of the artichoke” by A. Di Mauro, from this site).

In this way, turning our attention to a man who lived five centuries ago does not mean turning our gaze away from the sufferings and tragedies of the present world: retracing the steps of St Ignatius does not aim to flee from today’s news of war and destruction, but to discover in those steps the perennial treasure of the charism of discernment, which can help all of us to do God’s will in our time, in the reality that surrounds us. Because wanting God’s will to be fulfilled in the whole human family, saying a full “yes!” to that project of love according to which “one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again” (Isaiah 2:4), means also and above all choosing to start with each one of us, opening ourselves with trust to seek, deepen, dialogue, live reality as it presents itself, so as to be able to find God’s will in and for our lives.

Daily Examen – What are you waiting for to do it?

by Giacomo Mottola

The examination of a day is one of the characteristic prayers of the Jesuites; indeed we could say that it constitutes for us what the choir  is for the monks. It is not just a vocal prayer and its effects are long lasting. Over time the review of the day becomes a real way of life, an Ignatian way of life.

Certainly it was not Saint Ignatius who invented this prayer exercise which was present in the church from the first centuries. No, it’s a bit like the history of America: it was discovered by Columbus but not having yet understood the importance of what he had discovered, for his sake, it was Amerigo Vespucci who gave it the name. Thus Ignatius, inspired by previous experiences, composed the examination of him. Thanks to the spread of the Jesuits throughout the world, it has become the model of examination of “conscience” par excellence. I put conscience in quotation marks because that of Ignatius, as we will see, is not just one of those exams that are needed to confess but much more.

But what is it for?

it is difficult to make a list of “benefits” of this prayer due to simple fact that, being something spiritual, its effect also go beyond what we can know and prove, but limiting myself to those that are more immediately perceptible, I will try to illustrate someone that until now I have been able to experience.

First of all, the exam begins by reviewing the reasons for thanking god in the day (or Half a day if you do it two times a day). Not only thanking him for what happened but we can briefly extend thanks for the creation, for its colors, for life… every day it is possible to find something new! We can give thanks for the salvation worked and for those moments of the day in which we recognize God’s presence… Thus with eyes filled with resurrection we learn life in gratitude. This on sad days is like a ride on a carousel and in an instant the sun returns. Living as a grateful person is the first long-term effect of the exam.

Then we continue with the request of the Holy Spirit to be able to look at one’s life with the eyes of God, which are the eyes of mercy. Looking at one’s life as God sees it is the only way to look correctly at oneself by understanding oneself as a beloved child. This is another long-term effect of the exam.

The third point is to examine one’s day and say to oneself: well, in the face of all this love, how did I respond?

Here is that faults and sins are not centered on our conduct but on the breaking of the relationship with the one who loves us. Decentralizing ourselves, putting Jesus at the center is one of the most liberating effects of this exercise.

Here comes the time to distance ourselves from evil and sin, proposing not only not to commit it again in the future but also trying to find a way to prevent future falls. This is a bit like keeping your guard up knowing that life is a fight against the power of darkness.

The exam helps us to have a strategy to win.

Finally we can say our love to God, asking the Father for forgiveness for any shortcomings and re-establish our alliance with Him in the name of Jesus.

Here is the exam that puts us on our feet and puts us back in the Father’s arms for the next piece of the road, but it’s not over! Over time, in fact, examination after examination, a constant vigilance develops over one’s actions and relationship with God and to watch in anticipation of Chist’s return.

What are you waiting for to do it?


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