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

He’s not here

19 Apr 2020

It’s 6:15. It’s the morning of Easter Sunday. With a companion we are on the roof of our house, waiting for the sun to come up. It’s a bit cold and for the moment it’s not at all obvious that it was a good idea to get up so early to see something as trivial as dawn. It happens every day, maybe we’d better to go back to bed…

It’s been some intense days: Holy Week, the Triduum, the Easter Vigil. Now, in silence, the words, the images of the liturgy, the phrases of the readings and the memories of what I experienced in prayer return to my mind and to my heart.

“Those birds, listen! As if they were singing for us, as if they were giving the announcement: he is risen, hallelujah!”. And indeed there is something particularly beautiful and joyful about this concert.

The position of the novitiate does not allow one to see the rising sun at once, because it looks westward. I thought it wouldn’t be the same thing to see the sunrise like that. Then a passage from the “Spiritual Exercises” came to mind, where Saint Ignatius invites us to experience the presence of the Risen in our lives through his true and holy effects. It is true, even though the sun is not really visible, the light occupies an ever-growing space, the colours come alive and the effects are seen: this is the new encounter.

There is also another encounter. The terrace door opens and another novice approaches. What a surprise! So soon? What are you doing here? We didn’t discuss our plan with him last night. The scene is tremendously similar to another, which we know well… some go looking for the Lord early in the morning, they don’t find him, but then suddenly meet “a stranger”. And from the encounter comes joy, sharing, life, announcement. Is the resurrection really so simple?

It’s not, I think. It’s quite challenging as a thing. But at the same time it has some very everyday characteristics. The Risen Jesus enters into simple, small situations. He walks through closed doors, he enters the fear and needs of everyone, but he asks for new eyes: only in this way can we recognize him.

After half an hour I go down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. While I am waiting for the coffee to come out, beginning to scent the smell, I am reminded of a poem by a Czech poet, called Vladimir Holan, which expresses very well the feeling I have this morning. I’ll share it with you:


That after this life we must wake up again
with the sound of trumpets and horns?
Excuse me, Lord, but I think
that for all of us the sign of the resurrection
will be the simple song of a rooster…

For a moment longer we’ll stay in bed…
The first one to get up will be mother…
We’ll hear how gently she lights the fire in silence,
how she boils the water,
and as with a daily gesture
takes the coffee grinder out of the cupboard.
We’ll be home again.


In the Gospel the angel carries the message: “Jesus will precede you to Galilee”. To the land of childhood, to the land of the house of Nazareth.

For me, today, where is this house? Where is this Galilee? Where does Christ want to meet me? Perhaps I can begin by paying attention to the hidden noises, the simple song of the roosters, the ordinary little gestures of those who live with me.

Simple and demanding, unthinkably great and found in small things: this Easter invites me to open my eyes, open my heart, looking for the Life, for the Light.

Gellèrt Török, first years novice

When prayer becomes…preparing breakfast

by Alessandro Di Mauro

During novitiate life it happens, on a rotating basis, that we have to prepare breakfast for everyone before starting individual morning prayer. In such cases, one of us needs to wake up a little earlier than the others to be able to reconcile preparation time and meditation time. I have sometimes wondered if it is really necessary for us to be present when doing this service or if there is a deeper reason for doing it.

For some time now, when the alarm clock rings in the morning, I often feel, in my heart, the desire to meet the Lord during my personal prayer and in the Eucharistic celebration that we live daily. I have, however, realised that even when I have to anticipate the alarm clock for breakfast, the desire does not change and it almost seems to me that this also enters into the dynamic of meeting Him.  A question then arises for me: is it possible that even the act of preparing breakfast for everyone is somehow part of a form of prayer? To answer this question, I immediately ask myself another: what is the meaning of Christian prayer? I believe that prayer is an encounter with the Lord to deepen more and more the communion of life with Him. As St Teresa of Avila used to say, it is the moment when I meet the Beloved. On the other hand, if we read the Gospels, Jesus himself often stopped to pray alone in the intimacy of dialogue with the Father, so much so that it triggered the Apostles’ desire to understand how to pray: ‘Lord teach us how to pray’. What needs prompted them to make this request? Certainly the example of Jesus must have been a driving force: as the Master prays, it is good that we also pray; but I believe, first and foremost, they had the desire to experience the same encounter as Jesus with God the Father. In prayer, therefore, two freedoms meet, that of the believer who seeks the Lord and that of God who has the desire to be heard by those who pray to him. This is also the reason why it is, often, complicated to pray, because on the one hand there is a supernatural dynamic, whereby prayer is a gift from God, for which one’s heart must be prepared; on the other hand it is a human encounter that takes place in ordinary life, a challenge to recognise God’s voice that is often covered by the din of everyday life.

But back to breakfast! What does this have to do with its preparation? Nothing, if one approaches preparation thinking that the purpose is to have some milk, coffee and tea ready on time. But if one lives this operation savouring every single moment of it – from picking up the coffee pots to preparing them, to hearing the whistle of the coffee ready and enjoying the heat that the vapours give off when it is poured into the thermos – thinking that this gesture will be of help to the brethren, to those whom the Lord has placed beside him, something changes. By living the preparation in this way, even these gestures can become an encounter with God the Father, for whom I recognise in the other a brother for whom it is well worth losing half an hour of sleep.

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