Jesuit Novitiate
Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Love, distance, communion

01 Feb 2019

Each of us is convinced that it is impossible to love someone without being close to him or her. The lover, by definition, experiences a continuous tension that pushes him to seek the beloved. The Latin poet Tito Lucrezio Caro, in his De rerum natura, sketches this characteristic of love in a masterly way, referring to the carnal union of the two lovers. In the highest expression of physical love, both seek to “lose themselves in the other body with one’s whole body” (RN IV, 1095). A desire for fusion that cannot be fulfilled and therefore is continually reactivated. On the other hand, even the forms of love that do not find expression in the union of bodies, like the affection that is felt towards parents and friends, require a certain proximity to be able to keep alive. This is where one of the most recurrent objections to the religious life undertaken by the novice arises. An objection that is often put forward by parents: “how can you say you love us, if you have chosen to live a life away from us?”. Such a criticism could be put forward also by dearest friends and by the people met during the apostolic experiences that put us in contact with the young and the poor. Our formation needs do not allow us to establish lasting links with them. And yet it is possible to live a form of communion even in distance. Intercessory prayer fills this distance by filling it with love. The request for concrete benefits in favour of those for whom the prayer is intended does not exhaust its significance. What is more vital than anything else in this type of plea is to perceive upon ourselves and others the merciful grace of the Father who with his embrace of love transforms us into one (Jn 17:20). This prayer helps us to regain unity despite living in dispersion and teaches us the mystery of love between God and us, where love, distance and communion co-exist.

What do you care? You follow me!

by Benedek Rácz

War. Just over 1,000 kilometers away from me. In the neighborhood of my homeland. While I stand here in Genoa, in the chapel and pray for peace, I plead for lives. My desires would lead me to help concretely where the pain rages. “Lord, you would do this too, wouldn’t you? You would go there and sit here doing nothing?”. But no. It is not that simple. Jesus in his earthly life was not a problem-solving machine. Only after allowing a few days to pass did he leave to heal – by then already to raise – Lazarus (Jn 11:6) and he did not run to save the men who had been crushed by the tower of Siloe, although he was aware of what had happened (Lk 13:4). Jesus often acts in a way that makes no human sense. His actions were pleasing not to men, but always to the Father. “Only” this is my duty, that I may hear, and that I may be ready and diligent to fulfill his will. (cf. Spiritual Exercises 91)

By praying day after day I am more and more certain that I am a Jesuit religious in the Father’s dream. His will is that I be formed here in Genoa in the Novitiate. As high as the heavens are above the earth, and as high as his ways above our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts, so much must I trust the Father, believing that my prayers are the best and the most I can do for peace (cf. Is 55:9). It is a shattering experience to put my whole being in his hands every day, accepting that his will now is that I do nothing humanly concrete, and being ready if tomorrow he calls me to get up, leave the novitiate and go help under the bombs. It is a shocking experience, but anyone who has already experienced the power of this relationship and met the attractive figure of Jesus knows that this is how it is.

So every day I accept all my weaknesses, my powerlessness, and every day I rejoice when I can see how God has used me as an instrument of his love, that is, how this little reality that I am has become enough and a gift.

Benedek Rácz

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