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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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Summer is over… and so is the novitiate!

29 Sep 2020

Genoa, Monday 21st September 2020.

It’s night. It’s late. It’s not just any night. It’s the last night before leaving for Rome for San Saba. I’ve emptied the wardrobe of all my clothes. The suitcases have been ready for a few hours now. And the room is so quiet. As usual, at these hours.

Mentally I retrace the days I spent here. I return to the first night spent here in Genoa. Exactly seven hundred twenty-two days have passed. I think back to how bewildered I felt and, in some ways, so out of place when I arrived here.

Today I find myself here and I feel like I have never really lived anywhere else. Maybe physically I have. But not with my heart. Definitely not!

I think back to the people I have met in these seven hundred twenty-two days: trainers, companions of yesterday and today, the young people of the apostolate of Sestri Ponente, and all the others I have met in the various experiments. I see their faces, their smiles. It almost seems to me that I can hear their voices.

The REM sang that leaving New York is never easy… You can see that they never had the novitiate experience!

It’s so strange to leave a place where you feel at home. And yet, deep in my heart, I feel a great peace. Despite all the possible fears about my future, I feel peaceful.

Just over a week after my first vows, I feel the importance of moving forward. I recognise the need to start walking on this new road.

The temptation to take everything with me, people, friendships and places, is there. However, I recognise what it would be like to want to take over something that has been given to me for free and that does not belong to me, it cannot belong to me so beautiful it is!

“You have given it to me, to you, Lord, I laugh at it;
  everything is yours, everything you have”

I recognise, therefore, how within each of these seven hundred twenty-two days the Lord has been with me. And I am grateful because He has taken care of me every single day.

Giovanni Barbone, jesuit scholastic

In dialogue with God

by Raul Petru Ciocani

Few days ago we, novices of the first year, returned to the novitiate after having lived the first and most important experiment of this period of formation, the Ignatian spiritual exercises.
This five weeks retreat, still freshly in my mind, is not a moment of change – and this must be emphasized – because God does not want to change who we are: he created us this way and thus loves us, states Saint Ignatius, the one who proposes this path. The exercises are an experience of understanding, of drawing closer to God and of deepening the mystery of his presence in the world and the bond of love he has with us. An inner, personal pilgrimage where you are not alone. This is exactly what it is about, an inner journey accompanied by Him, our Creator. The Novice Master at the beginning of the exercises said: “God has prepared us for this experience, he programmed it and awaits us and accompanies us.” This was confirmed by the fact that we during a month of silence did not feel alone. He speaks to us, accompanies us and always offers us new challenges. This path of meditation and contemplation in search of God, who created us out of his love and offered us the earthly life of his Son for our salvation, also brings the answers to our questions. Going in depth, discovering yourself, your values ​​and your virtues, all of this as a gift that flows from the love of God.
What do we do with all that we have received, what do we do with our life, how to use it?
About 2000 years ago Jesus, Son of God, was born in Bethlehem, lived 33 years, was condemned, died and rose again. This also perfectly concerns my life today, it is a gift for me, an example of life given by the Winner who eradicates sin, all the daily dynamics that sadden us, and our dark part. Jesus makes it clear that the salvation of our soul does not have a “point zero”, it is a path, similar to his life. He came to help, give us examples, encourage us and show us the truth so that we can follow it. And besides, the Risen is present in our life, we just have to collaborate. Here is the most important thing: we must collaborate. But how?
The month of spiritual exercises offers the opportunity to understand this deeply, to see it in detail, to understand the gift that Jesus gives us and to learn how to exploit this gift.
I am happy and grateful to have had this experience, born through the experience of conversion of Saint Ignatius, to know more about the mystery of the life of Jesus and to be able to welcome better the love of God and the close relationship with him (relationship of forgiveness and love), that wants to develop within each of us.
The Romanian Jesuit, fr. Marius Taloș expresses it well in his introduction to the book of Spiritual Exercises: “The exercises have already transformed many hearts and many lives and have led to many personal, social and cultural changes.”

Raul P. Ciocani, novice of the first year

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