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


Month of Exercises: a pitstop with the Spirit

20 Apr 2019

Undoubtedly, the Ignatian month has been a precious time for me, to arrive, in silence, to a greater awareness, listening the Word of God and through the personal prayer shared with my companions during the daily mass.

The objective of the exercises is to try to stop and reflect and look at what we really are in sincerity and transparency. In this time of five weeks we live like in a soundproofed room where, having closed the door and eliminated the external noises, the only noise that “troubles us” during the day is the voice of God that whispers to our heart leaving him uneasy. Knowing how to listen is part of the path of formation of a Jesuit novice who, in this first stop, experiences a “relational silence” that invites us to listen to God who speaks through His Word.

This silence, silencing the screaming voices of our daily lives, allows the Spirit to “train” our ability to listen to God even in the most imperceptible sounds, to learn to distinguish what resounds within us and to order to live in fullness. During the exercises one learns above all to filter and isolate those voices that through a seemingly satisfying song, but in reality empty, disorient us like the sirens of the Odyssey and try to seduce us in the journey of life.
In this climate of silent prayer we find our most authentic identity and the deepest reasons for following and serving Christ: contemplating the earthly existence of Jesus, helping us to retrace our own history, to reconcile with it and to confirm or make new decisions, learn to discover and live one’s own ever greater desire for God.
Only in this way can the mind and the heart be opened to the mystery of a God who loves us for our limitations and, pulling us out of the labyrinths in which we sometimes get lost, gives us back the freedom and joy that transform our poverty into opportunities of life for us and for those around us.

Therefore, as regards the balance of the balance on what can bear fruit, foreseeing that even in the ordinary of every day, if one learns to rightly administer the gifts of God, it is possible to achieve the extraordinary. In so doing, my love is the courage necessary to abandon the terrain of our securities and to go outside, giving up our egoistic desires, to live fully that love which in the Crucifixion becomes a gift for the other and which calls each one of us a price of his life a gift for others, like a perennial Eucharist, in the environments where we live.

The Ignatian month was therefore a time for fare True experience of God’s love in my life, to let me love Him and to learn to love coming to Him and Pedro Salinas is inscribed in his poetry, all this, for me, is well enclosed in the following verses: “When you have chosen me, | is the love he chose, | I emerged from the great anonymity | of all, of nothingness. || Until then | I had never been higher | than the peaks of the world. || I had never fallen below | of the depths | maximum reported | on the sea charts “.

Marco Maio, first-year novice

But when do the swallows arrive?

by Christian Lefta

Suddenly, at last, almost on the verge of resignation, we saw swallows a few days ago. So many and so fast with their unmistakable slender silhouettes, in a blindingly bright, cloudless early afternoon sky. Cloudless, that is, without the shadow of a doubt that was beginning to become insistent: but when are they coming? And then: are they really swallows? Even if the eye sometimes deceives, swallows, as everyone knows, are the unequivocal sign of the arrival of spring, which finally brings with it the thaw and the explosion of life.

From the viewpoint of the novitiate, which is often a privileged vantage point for observing phenomena, it was actually not too difficult to see this: the climate of silence and a certain amount of training in contemplation somehow help the gaze. In any case, it is still a great challenge to be able to look. There is, in fact, a mysterious correlation between meteorology and the life of the spirit: there is, in other words, almost a meteorology of the soul to which Jesus refers in the famous passage in Matthew 16, 1-4: “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test him and asked him to show them a sign from heaven. But he said, ‘When evening comes, you say, “Good weather,” because the sky is red; and in the morning, “Stormy weather,” because the sky is dark red. Do you then know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, and do not know how to distinguish the signs of the times?”.

The spring of the year we are going through, 2022, seems far too full of signs, unfortunately not all of them of life, but rather of death and destruction. Where, then, are the swallows? Where is the explosion of life in a world devastated first by pandemic, now by war? We share this question, in faith and hope, with millions of men and women around the world today who, just like us, lift their eyes to the same sky, looking for signs of life and resurrection.

It is interesting that in number 236 of the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius proposes exactly this exercise, which not by chance is offered at the same time as a spiritual exercise but also as an exercise of observation of natural reality: “to consider how God labours and works for me in all created things on the face of the earth […] Thus in the heavens, in the elements, in plants, fruits, herds, etc., giving being, preserving, making vegetate, giving the senses, etc.”.

Nature, with its mysterious speech made up of sounds, scents and colours takes us back, with this spring 2022, to that truth that only with the eyes of faith can we recognise as life, a life that against all appearances never ceases to reappear, and to reassure us of its victorious return: “for, behold, the winter is past, the rain has ceased, it is gone; the flowers have appeared in the fields, the time of singing has returned, and the voice of the turtledove still makes itself heard in our countryside” (Ct 2:11-12).



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