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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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He’s not here

by Gellért Török

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:

Resurrection

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

A testimony from isolation

by Guglielmo Scocco

Since May 11 I have been isolated as the only one in the community still positive for the dear old virus, which has been my companion for almost three months now.

If some time ago they had told me that I would be in my room for a month almost without contact with the outside world and that I would have survived, I would have taken them for crazy. This condition is unnatural to me, it does not reflect my inclinations, my being a social animal – more animal than social – and yet it is giving me peace. In this condition that I would never have chosen for myself, like many of the things that have done me most good in life, I am finding peace. A peace that comes from the depths, that is not the result of a thousand calculations or efforts to obtain it, that is not sought but waited for, and perhaps this is its secret. Within the emptying of the four walls, after a first moment of ordinary and due madness, one begins to listen. One begins to listen. One begins to listen to oneself, deeply. Not because listening is beautiful or comforting or idyllic or surreal or romantic – none of the above – but because nothing else can be done. When we are forced into our isolation cell, whether it is that of a monastery, a prison or the house in which we live, our barriers collapse. My limit becomes apparent to me, my strength becomes weakness, my facade melts away, I have no more excuses, no more distractions and, above all, no more expectations. I am alone with myself. My deepest desires, often hidden by the desires of others about me, which I adopt without belonging to me, return to the surface. I have no more excuses, I no longer have another on which to project my efforts and my lies: I am in deep and true contact with myself, and that is all. Good riddance! A liberation from one’s superego, from having to be, from appearance: everything is transformed and becomes truth. And the truth makes us free, as someone said. In the most flat and deafening and empty calm that we often and willingly escape, miraculously, we discover new noises and sensations, which we had never heard before, because we had not allowed ourselves to. Precisely that place of apparent loneliness and abyss and aridity and desolation that I have fled like a murderer all my life, is giving me a new life, a life that does not need to feel like living – raising the bar more and more as in a sense of perennial revenge and frustration – because it already lives, and lives in peace. How many times have I fled before a poor man who begged for my love and my presence behind his outstretched hand? How many times have I fled in front of a brother or sister who behind a word of anger towards me hid a deep need for love? How many times, even today, do I continue to flee in front of this sense of emptiness that clings to my heart? And here I say to you: do not be afraid! We are no longer afraid to listen to this emptiness, to inhabit it, we will discover that it bothers us because it asks us to overcome ourselves, our insane habits, it asks us to listen to ourselves, to let out our weaknesses and frailties without fear, because we all have them. Don’t pretend that you don’t have them, as everyone else does, only to look like righteous people in the eyes of the world: you will be unjust in the eyes of love, of that love according to which we will be – and we are already – judged. How much more beautiful it is to live with an open heart, without the anxiety and fear of having to hide one’s limits!

Guglielmo Scocco, first year novice

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