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

From home to home

23 Oct 2017

My first and last (up until two weeks ago) visit to Italy was as a thirteen year-old on a school trip: I was more interested in the girls who were with us than in the ‘cultural experience’ my teachers tried to give me. Who could have guessed that I’d next set foot in Italy almost thirteen years later, and to become a Jesuit novice!

I’ll never forget that day, the last of September. The weather was typical for Malta at the end of summer: I was melting like butter in fire –I’ll never miss that merciless sun! More difficult to leave behind were my family and relatives, who were crying and hugging me as if they’d never see me again. But within myself I felt a great joy and the certainty that this choice, after a journey of almost four years, resonated with my deepest desires.

Despite this, I must admit it seemed strange boarding a plane without a mobile phone and in the knowledge that on this flight I would be leaving  my past behind.

One, two three, go!

In no time, Malta disappeared.

A few hours later, we arrived in Bergamo. The weather was cool and grey – to tell the truth, a relief from the oven that was Malta.  A short bus ride later I arrived at the Central Station in Milan, from where I caught a train to Genoa.

During this last leg of the journey, I had lots of time to think and reflect. The reality of this decision and the travel fatigue started to take their toll, and doubts began to form… However, I remembered the love of Jesus, the discernment made, the lights and consolations received: these pushed me on and encouraged me.

Daniel, the Maltese novice from the second year, welcomed me at the station in Genoa in a turquoise Fiat Panda which was probably older than me. That said, this tin can surprised me, navigating Genoa’s notoriously steep roads with ease.

On my arrival at the novitiate, I was received warmly with a cup of coffee by the Novice Master and other novices from the second year. Coffee break over, I went up to my new room: simple but comfortable…and already with a personal touch! There I found a greeting card signed by all the second-year novices, a Maltese flag, a CD of Maltese hymns, books in English and Maltese, and an English translation of the Formula of the Society of Jesus – the spiritual horizon to which, with God’s grace, I’ll strain forwards for the rest of my life.

I felt at home.

“Blessed is he who finds his strength in you and decides on the holy journey in his heart” (Ps 83:6)

by Daniele Angiuli

Every pilgrim who leaves his home, his affections, to embark on a journey, brings with him contrasting emotions: on the one hand the joy of setting out, of encountering places of unprecedented beauty and new gazes to meet; on the other hand, homesickness for what he leaves behind, for the people he is separating from, knowing, however, that love goes far beyond geographical distances. Above all, he is animated by the desire to be ‘enriched’ along the way, not so much by souvenirs as by encounters capable of transforming him, of ‘letting himself be made’ by the journey rather than ‘making’ the journey.

I believe that similar sentiments animated the men and women of whom the Gospel tells us who, leaving occupations, relationships, set out to follow the Rabbi of Nazareth, who taught from an ‘itinerant chair’ and fascinated many with the strength of his gaze and gestures… Among the many names there is Peter, called from the Sea of Galilee to the sea of humanity; Matthew, invited to turn his gaze towards a Love without measure; Mary of Magdala, liberated by Love and called to be an Apostle of the Resurrection.

But among these names are also ours, today: Jacopo, Paolo, Andras, Gabor, Soheil, Paolo, Daniele, young people with dreams in their hearts, characterised by fragility and strengths. From 1 October, we started a journey in the novitiate community in Genoa, to enter into a more intimate relationship with the Lord, to get to know ourselves better and the lifestyle that makes us happy and makes others happy.

Each of us left a part of ourselves, attracted by a Sight and moved by the desire for a full life, in order to be ‘men all the way, or rather all the way to the top’, as Don Tonino Bello used to say. We certainly have some fears about the future that awaits us, but we trust in the One who becomes our travelling Companion who, like with the disciples of Emmaus, listens to our worries, welcomes our defeats, and rekindles hope.

A month ago, on 16 October 2023, we entered our second probation, a favourable time to go deep into the Word of God, into the writings of our Founding Father St. Ignatius, through prayer life, study, fraternal life.

The possibility of having a day punctuated by precise times, places in which we can contemplate the beauty of creation, adult people in the faith to talk with, companions on whom we can rely, is indeed a great gift from God that we hope to cherish and make bear fruit.

But your name too, dear reader, is called with love by the Master: he does not ask us to be perfect in order to leave, but the desire to dare and the will to entrust ourselves to Him, just as we allow ourselves to be moulded by Him. For us and for you, “homo viator”, the wish dear to the Scout world: “Good path!


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