Few days ago we, novices of the first year, returned to the novitiate after having lived the first and most important experiment of this period of formation, the Ignatian spiritual exercises.
This five weeks retreat, still freshly in my mind, is not a moment of change – and this must be emphasized – because God does not want to change who we are: he created us this way and thus loves us, states Saint Ignatius, the one who proposes this path. The exercises are an experience of understanding, of drawing closer to God and of deepening the mystery of his presence in the world and the bond of love he has with us. An inner, personal pilgrimage where you are not alone. This is exactly what it is about, an inner journey accompanied by Him, our Creator. The Novice Master at the beginning of the exercises said: “God has prepared us for this experience, he programmed it and awaits us and accompanies us.” This was confirmed by the fact that we during a month of silence did not feel alone. He speaks to us, accompanies us and always offers us new challenges. This path of meditation and contemplation in search of God, who created us out of his love and offered us the earthly life of his Son for our salvation, also brings the answers to our questions. Going in depth, discovering yourself, your values and your virtues, all of this as a gift that flows from the love of God.
What do we do with all that we have received, what do we do with our life, how to use it?
About 2000 years ago Jesus, Son of God, was born in Bethlehem, lived 33 years, was condemned, died and rose again. This also perfectly concerns my life today, it is a gift for me, an example of life given by the Winner who eradicates sin, all the daily dynamics that sadden us, and our dark part. Jesus makes it clear that the salvation of our soul does not have a “point zero”, it is a path, similar to his life. He came to help, give us examples, encourage us and show us the truth so that we can follow it. And besides, the Risen is present in our life, we just have to collaborate. Here is the most important thing: we must collaborate. But how?
The month of spiritual exercises offers the opportunity to understand this deeply, to see it in detail, to understand the gift that Jesus gives us and to learn how to exploit this gift.
I am happy and grateful to have had this experience, born through the experience of conversion of Saint Ignatius, to know more about the mystery of the life of Jesus and to be able to welcome better the love of God and the close relationship with him (relationship of forgiveness and love), that wants to develop within each of us.
The Romanian Jesuit, fr. Marius Taloș expresses it well in his introduction to the book of Spiritual Exercises: “The exercises have already transformed many hearts and many lives and have led to many personal, social and cultural changes.”
Raul P. Ciocani, novice of the first year