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

Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot!

by Janez Gorenc

It’s June and summer is already in full swing. This can be noted not only from the increasingly hot days but also from nature, which this year – thanks to the abundant rain – surprises us with vivid colours. On the other hand, all this rain also makes us work hard. The grass in the garden grows continuously, so the most important commitment at the moment for Br. Paride, the house minister, is the maintenance of the grounds. But I wouldn’t like to complain about this, rather I would like to talk to you, dear visitors of our website, about the experience of daily work in general, which always seems to me a very important element of the day in the novitiate.

That said, I now find myself at a loss regarding where to start. This feeling calls to my mind the Father Master who often underlines the importance of the everyday and of trying to live these moments as fully as possible. It seems to me that the morning chores are a beautiful exercise that shows you how you can live something trivial in fullness.

And where is fullness found in hoeing the garden, in gathering leaves, mowing the grass or repairing the umpteenth thing that doesn’t work? One of the possibilities could be that the experience lived in prayer is applied concretely, that it does not become an activity to be proposed to the novices so as not to think about various trivialities. An activity that is not only physical but also spiritual, which helps you to go beyond yourself towards the other.

Here also comes another sentence that I borrow from St. Ignatius: “…love consists in interchange between the two parties; that is to say in the lover’s giving and communicating to the beloved what he has or out of what he has or can; and so, on the contrary, the beloved to the lover…”. So work becomes a place of fraternal sharing of time, experiences and talents. In this context, relationships are often deepened and talents discovered that were not known to exist before. Another aspect of morning chores that gives added value to the work we do is the fact that the novitiate and its surroundings become more orderly and make them more welcoming to the people who spend a few days of prayer here. I speak from experience when I say that prayer is better in an orderly environment. Thus we novices can do our small part to help our guests with prayer and their relationship with the Lord.

It is truly a challenge to live something which is almost taken for granted, such as work, that becomes a place of personal growth and of community.

Summer SJ

by Giacomo Mottola

Here I am on the other side of the screen six year later. Yes, because I remember well that summer after the first year of seminary when I went through all the pages of the novice website to read about the novices’ experience. As I read about their summer activities I began to feel, ever more clearly, the desire to live this way. Although the accounts of summer experience were so accurate that I felt like I was living them as I read them, at the end of this summer I must admit that doing them is far more challenging that reading them from the comfort of the sofa.

Of course I imagined that I would go from one experience to the next, always ready to commit myself to the end, in a perfect spirit of obedience to my superiors but I discovered that obedience is not only an outward appearance. It is not enough to do what they asked of you and do it to the best of your ability. When I found myself from time to time in new contests where I know no one, or almost no one, I realized that a part of me was starting to play defensively and a whole apparent set of good reasons was ready to argue that it was OK. After all I had obeyed but a part of me was not there missing the opportunity to learn, experiment and get involved.

Thanks to the advice of one Jesuit in charge of one of the activities I took part in, I learned a big lesson this year. Situations are objective but interpretations are relative. There are work situations that may be easier than others but it is up to us to choose whether to see that difficulty as a threat to be defended against or as a challenge to be faced. I have also noticed that I come into daily contact with situations that I may perceive as challenges or threats. By frequently examining my conscience to see where I have acted defensively and where I have put myself on the line, I am discovering new aspects every day to work on in order to learn to trust the good Lord more and more.

Giacomo Mottola


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