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


I speak Italiano

06 Sep 2019

Summer is a time of rest and vacation, but also is a time to prepare for the activities of the following months, especially when people start a new mission or a new assignment. So also this summer the Novitiate welcomed 17 Jesuits in formation, who were sent by their respective provinces to study Italian, before starting in Rome either their universitary studies or their apostolic mission.

The Jesuit scholastics who participated in the language course are mainly from outside Europe and, increasingly, the Indo-Asian component is prevalent. We believe it is significant to spend this month studying the language in the novitiate: as those who make their first stop in the Company learn the rudiments here and take their first steps, so even these companions, later on the path, face in a new country and a new culture. The presence of the novices who alternate in the tutoring service, sometimes transforms the hours of tutoring into real spiritual conversations, or reciprocals intercultural exchanges , which further enrich the time invested in learning / teaching Italian. Furthermore, the welcome and personal care that the novitiate community can offer help to get used to a new rhythm of life, a new climate, a new type of cuisine. The effort to try to understand and take understandable a new language is close to the effort that we encounter in the first months of the novitiate to learn many “Jesuitisms”, that are those terms of our spirituality or of our Constitutions that initially could appear obscure. The desire for a new stage of the life and the humility to question oneself are required both to those who want to approach a new culture, and to those who verify their call to religious life.

All these components have accompanied our students of the Italian language in these weeks, in which they were committed to know not only the grammar rules, but also the uses, the traditions, the idioms and some Italian cities. We would like to emphasize that learning was not one-sided: one of the riches that life in the Company gives you is to get in touch with many people from different cultures, recognizing with them common points, but also specific traits. The biggest challenge – but also what gives greater consolation – for those who coordinate a course like this is not so much to teach the language or to take care that everything is in order, but to create the conditions so that, despite the cultural and character differences of the participants, it is possible to establish a climate of communion and fraternity, without which it becomes much more difficult to get involved and it increases the effort to learn. In building a community all of us are always a bit “novices”, because there is no instant recipe, but it is an art that requires a common effort. And what made it possible to reach this climate was precisely the time given freely by everyone – the novices, the formators, and, of course, the students -, regardless of waste.

Going to Rome and Turin, at the end of this course, the heart is full of gratitude for the journey shared with so many confreres in various stages of their formation; and the hope is that, apart from boring grammatical rules, will remain imprinted the built fraternity.

Ivan Agresta SJ and Andrea Marelli SJ, coordinators of the Italian course

All in the field…for a full life!

by Daniele Angiuli

Community life is like a big soccer game. That’s the image that flashed through my mind while playing on the field with my teammates, amidst the running and the shortness of breath, the falls and the sweat. Each in his own position and at the same time in close relationship with the others: those in attack, ready to run toward the goal and score for the team; those in midfield to retrieve balls and act as “bridges” between players; those in defense to prevent opponents from advancing; those in goal to catch the ball and avoid the net.

There is no one role more eminent than another but all are necessary for the success of the game, just as in the community everyone is important and everyone can contribute. It is essential that each person does his part without declining to others, knowing, however, that he can count on the help of teammates. All called, as Luciano Ligabue says in “Una vita da mediano,”” to cover certain areas, to play generous” to be “there in the middle” of life.

I believe that in the field the only valid personal pronoun subject is “We.” Even in community life it is necessary to move from the ‘individualism of the “I” to the communion of the “we,” to think and act in the plural as Pope Francis often reminds us. If every player on the field started to go it alone, to run like a loose cannon, he would fail in his goal and even if he managed to score a goal, he would not achieve the real “goal”: teamwork, full communion with his teammates. So too in community life in the novitiate: it is necessary to look beyond the tip of one’s nose, to notice who is beside us, his need, to have the courage to step back and pass the ball to the other, always for the true good of all.

Every team has its own coach: he is responsible for preparation and game strategies. He is the first one who cheers for his team, trusts each person and insists that they give their best, according to their abilities. I like to think of the figure of Jesus as the real coach, as Carlo Nesti had already guessed in his book “My Coach’s Name is Jesus.” He encourages, spurs, believes, hopes in each of us and in the work of the whole team; he wants our “joy to be full” (Jn. 15:11).

It is difficult at times to live according to the demanding proposal of this great Coach, but not impossible. We need to put ourselves in the school of the Gospel, which prepares us to be athletes as the apostle Paul tells us: “Do you not know that in the stadium races all run, but only one wins the prize? You also run so as to conquer it! However, every athlete is disciplined in everything; they do so in order to obtain a crown that withers away, we, on the other hand, one that lasts forever. ”  (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

By living on “Jesus’ team,” our community, like every Christian community, will truly experience, in the midst of difficulties, the taste of a full existence, the flavor of true communion.


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