“Take, Lord, and receive all my freedom, my memory, my intelligence and all my will…”
– St Ignatius of Loyola
The end of November was a particularly interesting time in the novitiate. We began a session, which we call “Sharing of life stories”. This indicates a time dedicated to telling the story of our lives. It is not only a beautiful occasion, but I would say a festive one, which gives us the opportunity to participate in the most important moments of our lives, and thus lead us to be community.
Telling stories is a deeply human need, which gave birth to language. It seems that the need to tell and to listen are the attitudes that make us human. The stories and the encounters we have experienced always play in the background of our personalities, are part of our existences, and explain our ways of living. This is somewhat similar to the portraits of kings and nobles in ancient times, which contained not only the model, but also his most important attributes, i.e. the deepest elements of his personality. Telling the story of our life to someone means opening ourselves as much as possible to others, making others participants in our life. It enables us to live these values together, and to walk towards our common good. By sharing our lives we have in some way created and exposed our portrait to others.
On the other hand, telling and contemplating our life story gives a unique possibility to understand and reflect. And more. According to the insight we have inherited from St Ignatius, it is a real possibility to recognise the Lord as active and acting in one’s own life. In the life of St Ignatius, memory played an important role, as an opportunity to reread the past in order to find God through lived reality. Our past thus becomes an opportunity to meet the Lord and an opportunity to progress in the recognition of his presence. We, following in his footsteps, do this activity, to learn to reflect better, through prayers and thoughts of preparation. In this way our life becomes the story of the encounter with Him.
And what to tell? As I have experienced during the sharing of my life story, I have not always told what I had planned to tell. In fact, I do not believe that one can prepare oneself perfectly to tell one’s life story. During the first presentations of the others I had imagined how I would do it, in rich details. But then I realised, that I am not completely the director of my narrative. The director is someone else, and I am also a spectator.
2020-12-14. Peter Nemeth – first year novice