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

Praise as the day decline

by Gianluca Severin

As evening falls, if we are not attending the apostolate, we gather to celebrate Vespers, the evening prayer of the Christian community.

We pray for our families, for our friends, for our confreres, for the people we meet on our journey so that the memory keeps our affection alive. We pray with our community, with our confreres everywhere in the world, with those in joy and with those in difficulty. We pray with those who pray alone, with those who, in the solitude and silence of a crowded and chaotic world, whisper the words of their heart. We pray with those who do not know how to pray, with those who cannot find the words, with those who fear opening their souls, with those who fear that their cry will fall on deaf ears or that it will be received with judgment and condemnation. We pray with those who do not pray, with those who do not feel like it, with those who do not have time, with those who do not find something to thank or to plead for, nor hope that someone will listen to their gratitude or plea.

Our prayer blends with the thousand voices of the human family, with the praises and pleas, joys and sorrows, anger and peace, desires and fears that animate the hearts of men.

In praying we use words that Christ, that prophets and saints, that common people used before us, uniting ours to their voice, their feeling, their living, their meeting the Lord; in praying we perceive the echo of everyone’s voices in ours, and ours resound in those of Christ and those of Christ in us.

The prayer of each one merges and intertwines with the prayer of all; in the psalms, canticles and hymns, I find the words to express the stirrings of heart that I share with that psalmist trusting in God of thousands of years ago. I am not the only to seek, I am not the only to feel, I am not the only to love: the words of others, of the ancient ones, of the distant ones, remind me that I am not alone. That image, that expression, that experience give shape and light to my inner life.

In praying I infuse in ancient words the very current and concrete meaning of my life, that unique beat of my heart. In those words I tell my life, I read my past, I see traces for my future. Just as a thousand sparks spring from the same flint, a thousand lives ignite from the same Word.

The whole life, with its succession of days and nights, of actions and thoughts, of words and silences, with praise for the beauty of life, with respect for the mystery of truth of every creature and person, with loving service to God and to men is prayer, sacred and precious.

As evening falls, in communion with all men and women, we gather to celebrate the prayer of God’s people.


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