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

Benedek Rácz

In search of His face

“The God in whom I believe does not exist,
and the God I see and experience [through crude reality]
I do not want to believe.”

I wrote this sentence in my diary in 2019. But how did I get here?

I was born in Hungary, in a Catholic family of seven children. I grew up in Piliscsaba. My father is a doctor. My mother is a housewife. There is a strong and lively Catholic community in Piliscsaba: the Franciscan Third Order, the school, the parish, scouting, the Regnum Marianum work in synergy. I played the guitar, went horse riding and loved
to dance. In the last years of high school I had a strong interest in physics and electronics, so I chose electronic engineering at university. During those years, I was in a stable relationship with a girlfriend and planned to start a family in the future. I was responsible in Regnum Marianum and an active member of the folklore group: every
month we organised a festival in Piliscsaba.

All good things, but for the most part they were foreign to me. The many external and internal expectations caused me anxiety. It was the same with God ‘it shouldn’t be like this’ and then suddenly ‘boom’: everything collapsed. I moved to Budapest and distanced myself from the family, leaving everything behind. Dark years began, a struggle with myself, with my past, with God… In 2019 I got to the point where I could not write the very word God in my diary. I used the symbol of the existential quantifier instead. Meanwhile I had started attending a parish and a prayer group that prayed the rosary. In a moment of great desolation, I attended a five-day personal retreat with the Jesuits. I found myself sitting in the little chapel where they were giving the Spiritual Exercises. My life had collapsed, I could not go on like this. It was time to choose the path to take. I had a fork in the road before me: to leave all that was transcendent or in a way that almost nothing sustains me (as a Hungarian song says) to let myself be loved like an orchid that takes root in the air.

I lived the Ignatian year for young people in vocational search, followed by a spiritual director. Slowly I learnt to pray again, leaving more space for God, having more mercy towards myself. I wanted to do His will in my life, but at the end of the year I had not yet found perfect unity in my heart. So I lived the year of discernment, the pre-novitiate, of
the Jesuits. It was a difficult time, for a long time without results. I was beginning to give up “waiting”, but finally, during an eight-day retreat, the One I had to wait for arrived. He came and called me to serve Him with an undivided heart.

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