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


New roots

26 Apr 2019

I don’t know if you have ever had to repot a seedling…if you have, your gaze may have fallen on the roots, noticing how they had grown occupying all the possible space, taking the same shape as the vase, as if they were trying in every way and almost spasmodically to absorb as much as possible from that little piece of earth.

In fact, there comes a time when, if we want the plant to continue growing, we need to repot it.

Just as for plants, so it is that for us to grow – after a certain period – separation is necessary. We need to find a new vase, new earth, because the previous one – which was fundamental and essential for us to become what we are – is no longer able to give us nourishment and space. Of course, this can be a bit painful because it requires separation from something that was familiar to us up to that point, but it does not mean denying one’s roots: those we carry along with us and even a little of our native soil remains attached to us.

For me the Novitiate is precisely this new fertile earth that is giving me the sap, nourishment and space to make me grow. A simple list of the various activities and moments we share would be reductive and emptied of much of the meaning, but if I had to choose just one word to describe what we “do”, or better, “live” in the Novitiate, I would say growth … In fact, this period is essentially a time to get to know yourself more and more. It may seem strange, because in the frenzy of my daily routine I often took the knowledge of myself for granted, thinking that there was no one capable of knowing me better than myself. Instead, I’m discovering – and every day is a discovery – how little I actually knew. Thanks to prayer, to the dynamics and relationships that are created in community, and to the accompaniment of Fr. Master I am acquiring ever more an awareness of my abilities, but also of my limits and fragilities, of the conditionings and the false ideas of myself that I have built over time. Therefore I am living this period simply as a “grace”, a gift, in which I have the fortune and the privilege of receiving so much for free.

Finally, there is one last fundamental element which needs to be specified to explain the meaning of this time. In fact, to continue the botanical example, what do you do with a seedling that grows, but then doesn’t bear fruit?

Growth is not an end in itself, it is not to be able to boast or to consider oneself better, but to be always more free to love!

Until recently this expression would have seemed – if not really meaningless – certainly not very significant. I would have said to myself: “How can one not be free to love?”

Now, however, I’m realizing how much my idea of love was romantic and of freedom naïve. I am realizing that being free is not so much an external question, but rather refers to the inner dynamics that guide our thoughts and our actions. That to free oneself from fears, from conditioning, from secondary ends, to be able to really love the other, to want his growth and his good is really difficult, it costs effort and requires sacrifices.

For this reason having a good point of departure and someone who takes care of the personal growth of us novices is really a great help!

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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