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

In dialogue with God

28 Feb 2020

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

Interview with the new Socius Fr. Davide Saporiti

21 Nov 2022

In September a new Socius arrived in our community: Fr. Davide Saporiti SJ. His predecessor Fr. Iosif Şandoru SJ began the third year in the Dominican Republic.

You have been for 10 years in the retreat house in Bologna. How did you take the news when the Provincial communicated your new destination?

Initially with a bit of sorrow at having to leave a place I knew and loved where I spent all my energy; loved for the activities I carried out and the beautiful relationships I experienced. Later, however – I say this without rhetoric – deep inside me I felt peace because I understand the apostolic mobility that is part of our vocation. The Jesuit is a man sent for others. I understand that staying too long in reality runs the risk of becoming its owner, of taking root, of no longer having pastoral freshness and therefore not doing good for the work itself. In this new destination, i.e. in the Novitiate, I have no problem with the type of work or the environment, but – as often happens – a sense of inadequacy arises in the face of novelty: am I capable of doing well the things that are asked of me? At the same time I feel that in the Novitiate I can give the best of myself.

You celebrated your 25th anniversary in the Society of Jesus a few weeks ago. You are now 6 Jesuits in the Society of your year. What is your memory of the Novitiate?

The first thought is that we are half the number of novices I entered with. Thinking of former companions, I realise that those who continue the journey in the Company are no better than those who leave: indeed, the vocation is something personal. (Although it has to be confirmed by the Society).
For me it was very formative to join a heterogeneous group. Companions with very different ecclesial experiences, different maturations, different tastes, have opened my eyes to so many sensitivities that I had not considered before. The most emotional memories are definitely with the people, both novices and formators. A unique bond remains with the companions of the novitiate, even if we hear each other very little. I also have vivid memories of the typical novitiate experiments: the month of Cottolengo, the Lent experiment with students from one of our colleges and, of course, the Month of Spiritual Exercises; these were the passages that marked me deeply: every time I think about them a light goes on.

And what is your memory of your Socius? In what aspect do you want to be like him?

In the two years of novitiate I changed Master and also Socius. The first was very gentle and also very learned without showing it. The second was good at accompanying and guiding Spiritual Exercises, I saw in him a model of a Jesuit. Both were very helpful and I too would like to be helpful in what was asked of me. Above all, God willing, I would like to witness with my life more than with words the joy of following the Lord in the Society. But this is also true in other environments, not only in the Novitiate.

What will your commitments be this year?

I am understanding little by little, because some things have changed since I did the Novitiate. I interpret my role in concentric circles. The first circle (and the most important) is the life of the Novitiate: the formative modules with the novices, the instruction for the Month of Spiritual Exercises, the re-reading of the Month and everything related to the life of the Novitiate in the strict sense. Then, a subsequent “circle” concerns the life of the house and our works in the city: guiding guests who make the Spiritual Exercises, spiritual accompaniment, helping the pastoral care of the Jesuits in the city (SEEL for young people, CLC…). Finally, the more ‘external’ circle includes all the requests that arrive from the diocese or from our Province: formation courses, Spiritual Exercises courses and so on…

What memory would you like to leave in the memory of the novices? What message would you like to communicate through your example of life?

As mentioned earlier, I would like to communicate the joy of following the Lord in the Society. When I think of the Jesuits I admired in my youth, what impressed me about them was not only and above all their great pastoral skills (although they are important) but that they taught me ‘who a Jesuit is’: a person sent because he feels part of a universal body, a person in love with the Lord who can only spend his life for others, a person capable of self-denial and obedience, capable of living in community with a constructive style (today we would say ‘synodal’) but always in obedience to the superior because the two are not mutually exclusive. I too would like to testify, at least in part, to all this.

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