Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Doubting Thomas *oil on canvas *250,4 × 308,5 cm *ca. 1626 - ca. 1630

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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

He does…indeed…make all things new

by Alessandro Di Mauro

‘Behold, I make all things new’ Rev 21:5

It has been almost a year since I began this new journey as a Jesuit novice. When I chose to be a Jesuit I was really very happy, perhaps I had never achieved such happiness, it was 3 June 2021, then so many thoughts, so many desires that resurfaced, so much… fear I would say today. But when you are in desolation, you don’t go back on your choices, you go ahead and wait again for the consolation you felt on the day of your choice. Afterwards there were the interviews with four Jesuit fathers and every time I came out of one of these interviews, joy burst in my heart as a sign that I was going in the most beautiful direction for me.

The fear disappeared when I knocked on the door of the novitiate on 2 October: as I entered, the face of the second-year novice immediately made me feel welcome and at home. The smells, the colours, the objects I saw and touched in the novitiate in the first moments told my heart that I was, at last, at home. Thus began my journey in the novitiate, I got to know my fellow novices and the formation fathers. I begin my apostolate in the parish and then there are the experiments: the month of exercises and the month in hospital. Everything runs but everything is lived with a calmness of heart that helps you savour each moment and stop every day to thank the Lord for the gift of life and yours in particular. During the exercises I experienced my frailties: that I do not love the Lord enough (I will say during a sharing), but that the Lord is there extending his hand to me and that even my small attempt to love him is precious in his eyes and it is his grace that is enough to follow him.

My journey goes on and I experience the difficulty of rethinking my life before this choice and community life: it is quite a challenge. But I never felt alone, never abandoned, the Lord took my doubts, my weaknesses and used them to love me even more to make me live differently: fuller, richer and more joyful. The month I spent in hospital supporting the guests of an RSA was the moment when this love of God was poured out to our brothers and sisters in need, the moment when you really understand that you are, as St Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, a pencil in the hands of God. And here we are during the summer period when I am experiencing the beauty of encounter and free service to understand once again that it is the Lord who makes…really…all things new by taking over and enhancing your life.

Alessandro Di Mauro

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