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

Giacomo Mottola

God calls even during a Botellón

The road of hedonism leads to a dead end. You only get out by looking up.


I am 34 years old. I love geopolitics and the Divina Commedia. In my spare time I read essays on spirituality or psychology, and since my teens I have loved to entertain myself by juggling or playing the Djembe and Cajon. I like to tell stories of various kinds, from the Bible, uplifting tales but also jokes. Besides my parents, dad Mauro 68 and mom Franca 62, I have two brothers, Emanuele 38 and Simone 27.

I come from Troia (FG), a wonderful town in the Dauna’s Mountains where I lived until I was 23. An outpost on the Tavoliere delle Puglie overlooking the Gargano from which every day you can see the sun rise and set in fiery panoramas behind the Apennines. I carry in my heart the fabulous Apulian Romanesque-style Cathedral and the years spent playing in the fields with friends and cousins. I had a happy childhood. I played soccer, volleyball, basketball, karate. Come adolescence I put faith aside because I found everything I had been told about religion really boring. Those were the years when I was looking for strong emotions, something that would make me constantly say WOW, and the teachings of the church contrasted with all that. I could just as well say “until I was 23 I was a man of the world absorbed in vanities” (Autobiography of St. Ignatius 1). Erasmus in Spain, just one evening, in the middle of one of the many “botellón” – evenings among young people spent drinking, smoking and chatting – I perceived the profound meaninglessness of the life I was leading. I had drunk to the bottom of the chalice of the world and no longer felt satisfaction from it. The road of hedonism leads to a dead end from which one can only get out by looking up. I realized that not even “all the gold that is under the moon” (Dante’s Inferno VII) could quench the flame of my desire. I had no choice but to return to God.

During a personal gospel reading I experience a personal encounter with the Risen One, and my wonder is so great that I utter the greatest WOW I had ever said in my life. It was the passage of the rich young man in Luke’s gospel in which Jesus invites the boy to leave everything and follow him. I decide to trust this Jesus who was then just an attractive stranger. I recognize a vocation even if not yet well defined in detail.  I enter the seminary but as the years go by I realize that the path was different. An encounter with a Jesuit, Franco Annichiarico, occurs during a retreat. He strikes me. A companion sitting by my side asks me point-blank, “but why don’t you become a Jesuit?” The question works in silence for months and refracts in the reading of la Civiltà Cattolica to which I decide to subscribe. At the end of seminary I live the Ignatian month to make a decision about vocation and in full consolation I recognize the call to the Society.

I have always sought fullness, a life that had meaning, a place where I could feel at home but also a life full of adventure. Christ is the greatest that has happened on this earth. Until I found the meaning of life in Christ, what animated me was more escapism or the frantic attempt to fill the sense of emptiness produced by my disordered affections. Now I long for my search to be animated by a relationship of intimate friendship with Jesus as my companion in life and the engine of my actions.

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