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

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

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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