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

Doubting Thomas *oil on canvas *250,4 × 308,5 cm *ca. 1626 - ca. 1630


Do you love me?

by Pál Füszfás

On the occasion of Easter I would like to share one of my experiences of the spiritual exercises.

In the fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises which is the last, we contemplate the risen Jesus. It was particularly difficult for me to stay in these contemplations, at first I didn’t understand why. In my mind I had many distracted thoughts, for example how to build a bicycle frame, on which side of the roof of the neighboring houses would be good to put photovoltaic panels, or when I saw a field some agricultural technologies came to my mind. Being an engineer (at least in my heart) I like all these issues but at that moment it was absolutely useless to think about them.

It was already the third day that I was suffering from these distractions when I was finally able to tell the real reason: I didn’t like this risen Jesus who doesn’t stay with his disciples and with whom I cannot simply stay, as I had done before. He comes when he wants, stays for 5 minutes, for an hour and then he goes away. He makes himself unrecognizable and plays with his disciples.

Then he asks: “Do you love me?” (apparition of Jesus by the sea of ​​Tiberias, Jn 21)

The “good Catholic” immediately replies in me: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you”.

But this time there is also another, more honest voice: “How could I love you? You don’t stay with me, you always go away!”.

I finally know what’s wrong. I am always very grateful for these moments of sincerity. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to wait days, weeks, years until they arrive.

Then it is fascinating how quickly a problem can be solved once we have recognized it.

Two other words come to my aid: “And behold: I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28,20) How?

The other one: “And the king will say to them in reply: Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25,40).

Well, in fact, finding and seeing Jesus in our neighbor (and in everything) is our lifelong task. Moreover, we have to love him in everything! This new, strange, hidden presence makes us capable of a much greater love. If he had remained physically present among the people, I would definitely love him most and I might not love so much the others. But this way, through him and in him I can and must love everyone and everything. Or we can say it also like this: I can and must love Him in everything and everyone.

Pál Füszfás

God saw it was very good

by Gianluca Severin

Among the experiences that characterize life in the novitiate are the outings that we experience together every week, walking in the nature surrounding the city.

When we arrive at the summit, under the deepest sky, on suspended peaks, surrounded by the mountains and the sea, our wonder blossoms into praise. The Lord passed through these woods, thoughtfully spreading a thousand graces, and gazing at them along the way, with his face alone, left them covered in beauty. Creatures are a footprint of God’s footsteps, thanks to which we perceive his greatness, power and wisdom. (Saint John of the Cross)

The heart unites us with every creature singing the joy of its existence, that proclaims His infinite creativity, His supreme wisdom, His eternal tenderness. An immense space opens up before us in which everything takes on the measure of infinite, and within us expands so much the desire for heights, for splendor, for freedom.

And here, without having asked, without having deserved, I am here too.

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches [Psalm 104:24]

While the ear immerses itself in the silence, and notices the distant roar of a waterfall, the rustling of branches, the screech of a hawk, the sense of the sacred arises in us.

I respect very deeply and, at the same time, I retain the utmost intimacy in which He welcomes me; I am pervaded by an abysmal unworthiness and, at the same time, by the sweetest boldness when He approaches: “Don’t be afraid. It’s me”. Faced with the sublime, I am not afraid but attracted, in love; faced with the unknown I don’t fall silent but I dialogue about the deepest and most sincere things in life; faced with the infinite, I don’t run away but I entrust myself, I let be embraced; faced with mystery, I do not retreat but I open myself to friendship, to communion. And I perceive everything as work of God, myself as work of God, and God at work in life.

The Spirit of the Lord fills the universe, and embracing everything, knows every voice [Wis 1,7]

While we rest together among rocks that reach out to the sky, shaped and enlivened by the shining light, by the blowing wind, by the flowing water, we live not as servants, not as masters but as friends.

We share the journey, punctuated by the slow and persevering climb, and the pauses, the tiredness and the daring, the fatigue and the wonder. We share bread and water, a daily gesture, but which, after a common effort, is more frank and serene, it has a flavor of greater intimacy. We share the stories that everyone has to tell, the past that brought us here, the future that we glimpse on the horizon, the fears and passions, the laughter and the sadness, the doubts and enthusiasms. We share each other’s silent company. And I feel like I’m among brothers.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them [Mt 18:20]

By living these we save ourselves: in the praise, in the sacred, in the friendship of God, our salvation, the fullness of life, is already achieved.

God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by doing this, to save their souls. God created all other things on the face of the earth to help fulfill this purpose [Principle and foundation of the Spiritual Exercise]

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