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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Putting the fragments back together

by Pasquale Landolfi

“L’elogio della lentezza” (The praise of slowness) is the captivating title of a book that I always wanted to read and that exalts a lifestyle similar to the first month of the Novitiate.

The days here run slowly despite the many occupations marked by the deep chimes of silence and you have the opportunity to enjoy those little pleasures otherwise alien: a relaxed look at the Gulf of Genoa, a calm game of soccer, browsing through a book, a bit random, partly for curiosity. And the inner quiet is the absolute novelty compared to the previous life characterized by the daily doings that leave no room for breaks and reflections. However, silence is fundamental to shed light on the fragments that enrich a day: community life, apostolate, prayer, study.

In fact, before lunch and after dinner we are all called to live moments of personal re-reading in which, thanking for what we have received, we try to gather the many memories towards a single center. Each of us leaves behind important stories, affections, studies, works, habits and awareness that in the rereading assume colors and flavors absolutely new.

While I write this the words that I treasure from the end of Petrarch’s Secretum come to my mind: “I will collect the scattered fragments of the soul and I will watch diligently over myself”; so we too do a little work of reconstruction of ourselves and personally I feel much wonder in being able to bring everything back to the unity that is Jesus Christ. Living and offering daily life, even what might seem more banal or superficial, is precisely the first great challenge I am called upon to face as a novice.

Pasquale Landolfi, novice of the first year

Coronavirus and community in good Company

by Raul Petru Ciocani

 

Few of us can compare a period like this to experiences we have already lived. I spent almost two months without being able to leave the novitiate and this is the longest period I have ever had in my life without going out. Living in community is already a exceptional experience in itself, which I had never experienced before, and now, adding these restrictions, there is the risk of discouragement. In reality I am living this period very well, I have not yet found moments of boredom, indeed I have the opportunity to discover many aspects, and I will tell you why.

In addition to the comfort that accompanies me now, the feelings that pass through my heart in this time are truly varied: uncertainty, compassion with those who suffer and die from coronavirus, and also the fear for my family that is about 1200 km from Genoa, in the western part of Romania, where there are still not many infections. Talking to my grandmother who lives with my parents, I was surprised and impressed by the courage and strength with which she is going through this period. Having already experienced the Second World War, the communist occupation, the deportation of family members to work camps, she is very aware of the reality of this pandemic that we are facing with little courage and patience, because we no longer trust and no longer know in who we need to trust. This is one of the points that makes me think a lot: Can our faith really help us in such critical moments of our life? The answer is yes, but we have to find out. As those who find out during important events of their lives, such as migration, war, addictions, diseases, depression, loneliness and entrust themselves to God and put their destiny in his hands. Here, the current situation stimulates me to think about all this, about the shortcomings and weaknesses that we have and that we do not want to accept and face.

Now I’m going to explain to you why the rest of the time I still haven’t found the moments to get bored. Community life leads me to discover many aspects, which until now I did not know about myself, especially through personal relationships with companions and the community activity in which we are immersed. All of this keeps us very busy most of the time. Starting with the fact that every day I have several people to talk to during meals (friends with whom to share their experiences, daily joys, difficulties, etc.), moments of prayer together, everyday community liturgy but also the passing of the time having fun, playing football, volleyball, ping pong, etc. All this forms a lifestyle, the community one, where, as in a family, you cannot think only of yourself, but you also have the responsibility of the others.

These things represent the community life that we are living in this period of great difficulty for the whole world. The community is what made it much easier for us to go through this time, assimilating all the positive aspects it brings. Personally I live this dimension as a help to my vocation, which is to follow the Lord with the vows that I choose to make in the Society of Jesus.

Raul Ciocani, novice of the first year

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