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

Pause or play?

24 Mar 2021

Are we on pause or are our lives still on play? Often, with the family groups I accompany, we ask ourselves this question. The public information, the debates, the everyday talks, seem to be almost geared towards emphasising a suspension of life, which began a year ago and is waiting for an event that will make us pick up where we left off. But, using a touch of realism, we realise that this vision does not hold water, it is not true. Why? In fact, our days have gone by and go on; we carry on with our commitments; we organise ourselves as best we can; we ingeniously mitigate the various burdens; we reflect; we rediscover the beauty of nature; we are more sensitive to solidarity with others.

Isn’t all this living? It is living a present, not dreamt of, nor taken for granted, nor planned, but it is living the “here and now” in fact. It is not being on pause, but being ‘differently active’, as one would say with an expression that is very much in use today. Positive and negative moments accompany us; feelings of joy, but also of sorrow; resignation and rebellion: is this not ‘being alive’? This was probably present even before Mr. Covid broke into our lives, but to become aware of it takes time and, sometimes, some event that brings us back to the ‘beautiful fragility’ of our existence.
So, continuing with the metaphor of the tape recorder, it is not a question of pressing rwd to rewind everything and return to the starting point. Nor is it a matter of hitting fwd and fast-forwarding to the end, without listening to the entire contents of the file/tape. Rather let the play continue; let our life not stand still; let us not give up looking for possible meanings and new viable styles. The present is telling us something. Let us help each other to listen, living this present, which will in any case be part of what we will build in our future.

2021-03-24 Fr Agostino Caletti – Master of Novices

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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