The House of Bethany. A significant name for a small house, near Crevari, where we three novices, together with Father Agostino, lived during the Month of Exercises, from 9 January to 13 February. Bethany is a house of intimate poverty and deep familiarity, where Jesus cultivated friendship and affection with the people closest to Him. We too invited Him into the house of Bethany, into our common life, into the silent conversation that the Word ignited in us through the points given to us by our Novice Master and into the shared meals, also carefully prepared by Father Agostino.
In all, it was five weeks. In the itinerary of the Exercises they would be four, but a wise adaptation for the novices brings them to five, prolonging the Second Week of the Exercises and taking a break every Saturday and Sunday. Tasting God’s love that transforms all the past, even the weakest and most wounded parts of us, is the content of the First Week. To be with Jesus and be moulded by his humanity, by his way of loving, healing, teaching, announcing the Kingdom of God is the objective of the Second Week. In the Third week we contemplate Jesus who chooses to go to Jerusalem and live his Passion and death for us. In the Fourth we taste all the power of life that flows from Jesus’ resurrection and we experience his sending into the world, with the strength given by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
During the month we learn to live with Him again, in every aspect of our humanity. We learn to breathe, to eat, to walk, to desire, to pray, to contemplate. We learn to recognise our aspirations, which sometimes disguise themselves as good, but in reality lead to a lesser good. Finally, one experiences the revisiting of all the past, present and future of one’s life, of all the desires, joys, fears and labours, in which there is a continuous dynamic of death and resurrection.
Finally, as we experience greater familiarity with Jesus, with his feelings, thoughts and decisions, we feel more clearly in what way he calls each of us personally today. I too have strongly felt his invitation and encouragement to go to the peripheries, that is, to the poor, especially the young; and to the peripheries of the heart, through the accompaniment of the Spiritual Exercises.
Considering the fruits of the Month, some of which ripen immediately, others over time, I think it is truly a unique opportunity for everyone, even those who are not on any path of religious or priestly life, to put things in order and find greater clarity to make and live choices close to the Gospel. Of course, for those who work it can be very difficult or impossible to get a whole month off. In this case there is the opportunity to live the month in stages, breaking up its weeks; or to do the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL), with a rhythm of prayer compatible with one’s schedule and with accompanying talks, for the duration of one or two years. Let us not miss this wonderful opportunity!
2021-03-03 Davide Arcangeli – First year novice