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


Hitting rock bottom?

09 Apr 2018

Small debates tend to start at the Novitiate. Sometimes they are the echo of the thought of an individual. Gradually the debate continues with the rhythm of daily life, during our housework, in the corridors when we meet, through jokes. These things are not always so serious, they are expressed through humour, they help us to understand the reality around us and our companions.

Once, discussing something, someone said:

“Once we hit rock bottom we start to rise again”.

There has been open debate. When you reach rock bottom, do you start to rise or can you continue digging down? It is evident that there is no definite answer and it is precisely this that makes it the ideal situation for Jesuits and the debate has become a recurrent joke.

“Guys, the shampoo in the bathroom on the fourth floor has finished!”

“Once you hit rock bottom …”


“The artichokes are full of thorns, be more careful when you clean them.”

“Once you reach rock bottom …”

I think there was an answer to this question a few days ago. But first allow me to make a premise. As a child I would spend hours and hours watching the flames in the fireplace of my uncle’s house. I would remain enchanted in front of that vortex of sparks that rose to the rhythm of crackles. Fire is a primordial force and it struck something inside me. The primordial elements are so important in the Biblical narrative and present in the liturgy. Water, fire, air, smoke are elements symbolically represented in the liturgy and accompany us throughout our lives.

I thought about all this whilst I was with pitchfork in hand in a corner of the garden where there are ashes. That little place has the tongue-in-cheek nickname of Gehenna. Ideally there isn’t a place lower than Gehenna but a voice came from beneath me saying goodbye whilst I was working with the pitchfork:

“Hello Beelzebub!”

I looked down and saw two metres below me a co-novice wearing a cheeky smile. I told him:

“So there is something lower than Gehenna, when we hit rock bottom you can go even lower.”

and my wise companion replied: “Write an article!”

As you can see, when it comes to resolving age-old issues, we are experts in the Novitiate.

I conclude with a thought that seems to me optimistic and responsible. If the situation seems difficult to us, there probably exists an even more difficult one. We search for the good in the present situation to avoid any possible bottom.


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