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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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All new

19 Oct 2018

Many years ago I was struck by the title of a book: “All quiet* on the western front”. Quite a beautiful title to define a book before even reading it. It’s the story of a static and distressing dimension in a terrible war scenario, the First World War. In the book some deep dimensions of human beings seem to remain always the same, in their rapid vortexing around the tragic experience of war: “nothing new”.

This is the premise which describes by contrast what is happening in the Novitiate. Once again, for the umpteenth time, everything has changed.

So it was that after for the departure and the return from the Ignatian experiments, during the first year, the community changed. So it was that during the summer experiences, finding ourselves once again in Genoa, the community changed. So it was that through the ordinary and extraordinary times and their difficulties, the community has changed.

And now? After the vows of the novices of the second year, the preparations for their celebration, the arrival of their families, the ceremony, the community has changed.

But in what sense has it changed? There were no changes in our way of proceeding or in the rules of the house. It is not even the emotions that we have experienced in the separation from a companion who left for Rome or in welcoming a person yet to be known.
I am not referring to all this, I am referring to the mystery of the community. The community is a mystery like a human being, like a body made up of many bodies. It doesn’t matter how independent or rebellious we are, how we see ourselves in the mirror and the depth of our most authentic desires. It is through this iridescent prism that we experience our life. They are people and hands and faces that together make one. The result is not always romantically beautiful, actually often it isn’t. It is flesh and sweat, fatigue and beauty, like moving house, when it is finished. The simile just came to me like that, sorry.

In a moment as beautiful as this for us let me say that I had never lived such an extraordinary and rich experience, tiring because it pushes me beyond myself. It did me good. I wish it to everyone, because all human beings should have the right to live such an experience, in the forms possible in their existence.

*In Italian, this title is translated as “Niente di nuovo sul fronte occidentale” which literally means “Nothing new on the western front”

Praise as the day decline

by Gianluca Severin

As evening falls, if we are not attending the apostolate, we gather to celebrate Vespers, the evening prayer of the Christian community.

We pray for our families, for our friends, for our confreres, for the people we meet on our journey so that the memory keeps our affection alive. We pray with our community, with our confreres everywhere in the world, with those in joy and with those in difficulty. We pray with those who pray alone, with those who, in the solitude and silence of a crowded and chaotic world, whisper the words of their heart. We pray with those who do not know how to pray, with those who cannot find the words, with those who fear opening their souls, with those who fear that their cry will fall on deaf ears or that it will be received with judgment and condemnation. We pray with those who do not pray, with those who do not feel like it, with those who do not have time, with those who do not find something to thank or to plead for, nor hope that someone will listen to their gratitude or plea.

Our prayer blends with the thousand voices of the human family, with the praises and pleas, joys and sorrows, anger and peace, desires and fears that animate the hearts of men.

In praying we use words that Christ, that prophets and saints, that common people used before us, uniting ours to their voice, their feeling, their living, their meeting the Lord; in praying we perceive the echo of everyone’s voices in ours, and ours resound in those of Christ and those of Christ in us.

The prayer of each one merges and intertwines with the prayer of all; in the psalms, canticles and hymns, I find the words to express the stirrings of heart that I share with that psalmist trusting in God of thousands of years ago. I am not the only to seek, I am not the only to feel, I am not the only to love: the words of others, of the ancient ones, of the distant ones, remind me that I am not alone. That image, that expression, that experience give shape and light to my inner life.

In praying I infuse in ancient words the very current and concrete meaning of my life, that unique beat of my heart. In those words I tell my life, I read my past, I see traces for my future. Just as a thousand sparks spring from the same flint, a thousand lives ignite from the same Word.

The whole life, with its succession of days and nights, of actions and thoughts, of words and silences, with praise for the beauty of life, with respect for the mystery of truth of every creature and person, with loving service to God and to men is prayer, sacred and precious.

As evening falls, in communion with all men and women, we gather to celebrate the prayer of God’s people.

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