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

English, Spanish and Greek: three languages ​​with a single purpose

03 Mar 2017

One of the formative activities of the Novitiate is the study of languages. Certainly it’s not the poet Leopardi ‘s “mad and desperate study”, or at least not yet, but it has the aim either to deepen knowledge of a language or to start studying it; it depends on the novice’s level of English, Spanish and Greek. Why you should study just these languages, it is obvious for the English, while it is good to remember that Spanish is the language used by Ignatius of Loyola and the Greek is the main language of the New Testament Scriptures. The study, however, is not the ultimate aim of this activity. As with any other proposal of the novitiate, in fact, the goal is to give oneself a challenge, get in touch with different realities, to grow according to the Ignatian method, characteristic of the spirituality of the Society of Jesus. Elena, Humbert and Victor are our great and patient teachers.

What follows is their experience in the novitiate.

Elena is the first teacher I interview. She is 31 and teaches Spanish but her first occupation is law, in fact she works as a lawyer. In Novitiate was called from the current Novice Master, met while she was at school; he was her Religion teacher.

“It is a special experience,” she says, “have to do with the novices who are often older than me. I have the fear of not doing well, but every time I think back to the last lesson, I realize that I bring home much more than what you get from me, and this gives me hope to do well. I love listening to your stories, heterogeneous but homogenous due to the Society’s project and it is always a challenge to find new aspects common to everyone, despite the diversity of experiences. At the end the miracle is that “the cook gets along with the engineer “because of what the Society is! »

After spending five years in the Novitiate, what is your idea about the Jesuits, or at least the young Jesuits in formation?

“The Jesuit is a believing person who is dedicating his life to God, but that does not renounce to be in the world. I met the Jesuits as a student, and I must say I was always struck by the deep respect for the person and for the expressed ideas. The Jesuit talks with you, does not try to explain something, he discuss with you does not begin to preach. His is an inner approach, the fruit of prayer, of reinterpretation and deep listening that lead to intellectual honesty. “

Tell us a story from your experience!

“One day, being requested to talk about his day, a novice from Rome said” se levantamos “instead of saying” nos levantamos “wanting to indicate the wake up! It was funny to hear him mix Roman and Spanish. “

Umberta is a professor of Greek, her for passion and job: she has taught all her life in a high school in Genoa.

She landed in Novitiate for a different reason; “6 years ago I was asked to give some guitar lessons to novices; I accepted it with pleasure for the decennial knowledge I have of the Society. Instead I arrived and the Greek lessons began. “

What is the difference between teaching in a high school and here in the Novitiate?

With you it is not only intellectual study but a true real-life-comparison, and the text makes a difference, the Gospel, and we comment what we listen around a table together. I have always wanted to make a journey together to share and study and in the Novitiate this has been possible: I do not feel as a teacher standing among you. Here I sense a real desire to be challenged by the Gospel. “

Can you give us a summary of your intellectual, human and spiritual experience,?

“It is always worthwhile, for all ages, to make a path of confrontation with ourselves and the others, because there’s nothing we can do without the research of the deep sense of things, otherwise we live in an insipid life. Who searches with sincerity and genuine desire somehow enriches the other. “

Tell us a story!

“A source of pride was what a novice – who absolutely did not want to study – said to me one day: “The lessons of Umberta are a breath of fresh air!” ».

Who is for you the Jesuit?

He’s a person who has a great respect for the people he meets. The Jesuit accompanies leaving the freedom and with a diversity and a breadth of huge horizons. “

Victor teaches English but also speaks German. Slovak origin, philosophical formation, professed atheist for culture and belief. He has been also a war photographer, working in different war places around the world, from Afghanistan to the Balkans.

Why the choice to dedicate to freelance photography?

“There was a force that pushed me, more than curiosity and a deep desire to know and live the reality so authentic, real and not through the stories of others. But at some point the photography no longer was enough to tell what I see. I realized I was being arrogant in my claim of wanting to change the world through this work. Photography is a communication tool, but auxiliary to the word. I went to a place, but I did not know enough and that’s why I started studying political science, because if change is possible only knowledge can facilitate it. “

Continuing to talk about his experience in the novitiate, he says: “I do not know much about the Jesuits, in my country there are none of them, but once arrived here in Italy I met Jesuits immediately with which I felt free to express myself. What pushed me was the curiosity of being enriched by believers who are free people. When P. Augustine asked me to teach English to the novices I accepted immediately for the stimulating and respectful environment for those who are not a believer, that, I think, is the key to any relationship. “

Do you have a story to tell?

“A true anecdote not. But I tell you that every time I come home and tell my wife how was the lecture I “quarrel” with her! And you know why? Because she says I’m too strict with you novices! But I’m not severe, I am only demanding. “

Who is for you the Jesuit?

“Is there such a thing as a Jesuit? I met such a wide variety of personalities, perceptions of life, spirituality, ways of being with you. The diversity is a resource, and it is extraordinary how you incentivate it among you. “

Writing this short article I was struck to see that each of them has declined the Ignatian method from an ordinary and concrete experience, teaching us novices English, Spanish, greek, with an emphasis on diversity, openness and freedom with which they came into contact. “There is such a thing as a Jesuit?” Victor wondered at some point; of course, I would like to answer at the end of this article, those who give time, skills, passion, confidence and creativity training. To you our thanks.


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