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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Spiritu, Corde, Practice

by Davide Arcangeli

Being sent as the “apostles” is a central dimension of novitiate life. As a diocesan priest, until now always immersed in a frenetic activism, between parish and teaching, in the Novitiate I feel called to rediscover the foundation of the pastoral mission, at the level of “being” before “doing” and I feel I am helped in this by the whole community.

In particular, it seems important to me to share with you the meeting we had on Friday 7 November, because it brings out well the point of view and the way of proceeding that we are learning: as first and second year novices, we all gathered together with the Master’s socius, Father Iosif Sandoru, to share and discern the ongoing pastoral activities.

In an atmosphere of listening and recollection, each of us gave some descriptions and evaluations of his experience of the apostolate on the following points: where; with whom; what; positive and hindering elements; aspects of inner consolation/desolation.

A rather variegated picture emerged, due to the diversity of pastoral areas, but with at least one point in common, namely the need for continuous discernment to assess “how” to make a personal and spiritual contribution, in contexts where one cannot and must not assume full responsibility for leadership.

Some of us are involved in the youth groups from Azione Cattolica and the Scouts in the parishes, others have more direct dealings with catechetical groups, for children and families, others are involved in social service areas. A bit like the apostles who return to Jesus to recount their various experiences, it was important for us too to participate reciprocally in the extreme variety of experiences, as a richness to be shared, also to receive help and support from others, both in discernment and implementation.

We also understood that what is central in such experiences is not so much the amount of work done or the leadership shown, but the personal exercise of attention to seek and find the Lord, in His action in hearts and situations, and the full willingness to offer himself, with humility, for the expansion of His Kingdom. Even small things that happen daily, such as a conversation, a gesture, a word, can be important signs of the Spirit if the heart is willing to read them. In addition, the importance of being in different contexts with flexibility, taking advantage of opportunities to foster a service and a proposal of spirituality, has been stressed. It is not a question of imposing, but of embodying a sensibility and certain approaches that favour greater care for the interiority, in contexts traditionally marked by a certain external activism.

Finally, Father Iosif concluded the meeting by dwelling on some aspects of the Society’s typical way of proceeding: extreme adaptability according to time, place and particular circumstances; willingness to accept reality as it is in order to discern God’s action in it; opposition to the temptation of activism, feeling and tasting every aspect, even the smallest, inwardly, with full willingness to act where it is possible and necessary. Quoting Jerome Nadal, Father Iosif said that everything should be fulfilled Spiritu, Corde, Practice, that is, starting from the Spirit, with all the heart and oriented towards action.

2020-11-17. Davide Arcangeli, first year novice

Christmas carols in the Novitiate

24 Dec 2020

Christmas is associated with traditions and songs that evoke memories of our home countries. Each of us has chosen a song that we consider to be of particular importance. And so we have put together a playlist of Christmas songs, which we would like to share with everyone.

Below is a short presentation of the chosen song:

P. Agostino: “Din Don Dan”.
Between joy and nostalgia, a song for the whole family.

P. Iosif: “Astăzi s-a născut Cristos” (Today Christ is born).
Originally a Romanian popular Christmas song, quite old. In the video it is a postmodern elaboration, made by a composer friend of mine from Cluj, Cristian Bence-Muk. I like the way he has managed to revitalise something very traditional. The refrain goes: Lăudați și cântați și vă bucurați! (Praise and sing and rejoice!) So be it!

David: “I re magi” (The Magi).
A festive allegretto from the children’s oratorio, entitled The Christmas of the Innocents. It is composed by Nino Rota, who is particularly well known for the soundtracks of films by Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini. But he is also a prolific composer of sacred music. The piece is taken from the Gospel of Matthew, the scene of the Magi arriving in Jerusalem.

Raul: “Florile dalbe” (White flowers).
A well-known traditional Romanian song, which young people sing during the Christmas holidays, going to the homes of relatives and acquaintances, to announce the coming feast, the birth of the Messiah.

Pasquale: “Venite pastorelli alla capanna” (Come shepherds to the hut).
I choose this song because it recalls, with the sound of bagpipes, the traditions of southern Italy, for a time that is always nostalgic. The nostalgia that comes with waiting for Jesus.

Christian: “Natale a Pavana” (Christmas in Pavana).
It’s one of Francesco Guccini’s last songs, written and sung in the dialect of his childhood. I like the sense of memory and the music which is both sweet and full of nostalgia.

Péter: “Romanian Folk Dances”.
Béla Bartók is able, with the instruments of classical music, to present you with a piece of raw Romanian and Hungarian folk music. Thus making Christmas a lively experience, similar to the evening when the shepherds go to see Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Daniel N.: “Barn Jesus i en krybbe lå” (Baby Jesus lay in a manger).
It’s a traditional Danish song that I like a lot. The text is by Hans Christian Andersen and the music by Niels W. Gade, who composed it in 1859.

Guglielmo: “Angelus ad pastores ait” (The angel said to the shepherds).
It is an original chant. The performance by eight voices, in harmony with each other, reminds me of our differences, united in a single song, before the tenderness of a defenceless child, born out of love.

Dániel T.: “Boldogságos Szűz” (Blessed Virgin).
In this piece, two different worlds, two different traditions meet: a Hungarian folk lullaby for the infant Jesus and a 13th century song about a miracle of Mary.
I like encounters of this kind, where diversity does not separate us, but enriches us. For me, Christmas means something similar: contemplating the incarnation of God and giving myself to others as I am.

Gellért: “Betlehem kis falucskában” (In the small village of Bethlehem).
Two voices are enough for the great proclamation: “God the Son became man”. A traditional Hungarian song, presented by two musicians from my country.

Through this playlist you can feel a little more united with us. We wish you all a Merry Christmas.

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