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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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nostra (Daniel N)

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The nativity scene of Genova

by Daniel Tímár

At the last villa (this is the name of our day off, when we leave the novitiate together) before Christmas, preparing for the feast, we visited the Nativity scene and the exhibition of the museum of the Capuchin friars. As usual, even now I was amazed at how rich Genova is in its cultural heritage. Also in this museum we could meet wonderful paintings and cultural preciousness.

Looking at the different paintings and works of art I was thinking of how the artist’s work took shape contemplating the mystery of Christmas. Did they experience the process as a prayer, as an encounter with the sacred, or were they just paying attention to the details of construction? I don’t know, which is the truth, but for me to watch these works turned into a prayer.

In the second room of the museum is perhaps the most famous nativity scene in the city, which is Carmagnola Franco Curt’s masterpiece from the 1930s. The craftsman, in 40 m2, with the help of 150 moving characters, tells the prophecies of Isaiah, Malachi and Micah, and the story of Jesus’ birth and childhood.

(video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66eWd5NIXSE)

Looking at the work I gave thank for the beauty of the tradition of creating nativity scenes, because we received a brilliant and simple instrument, in which we can also physically be in the mystery of Christmas. Even if we prepare it for our family, community or ourselves. Even if we prepare one, or even if we just admire it.

At this time of Christmas I encourage everyone to visit one at least once. To make the visit a living encounter with Jesus, I propose the following exercise.

First step – preparation of the meeting

In what spirit do I start my journey?

Like a shepherd? Like a wizard? Like a…?

What things or who is it that I carry with me as a gift?

Adoration? Joy? Gratitude? Sadness? Someone?

Second step – during the journey

What, who am I following?

Who am I meeting on this trip?

Step three – the meeting

I look and contemplate the nativity scene.

I greet Jesus and all the others.

I give what I brought with me.

Now is the time for conversation. I can say everything that is in my heart.

Do they want to give me something too?

I greet them.

Step four – the return

What happened on this trip, meeting.

What did I see, hear, hear?

What was the conversation with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the others like?

Is there anything to give thanks for? Was anything given to me?

In what spirit did I leave?

Is there any concrete action that calls me back?

God is patient

by Massimo Sebastiani

We all feel the need for new possibilities. We all hope for a “second table of salvation”, we all want to find, along the way, that “hook in the middle of the sky” sung a few years ago by Claudio Baglioni. Perhaps because the human being is always a construction site, a person is always under construction. There are two Gospel parables that I particularly like to read in the light of my experience: that of the “talents” (Mt 25, 14-30) and that of the workers called to work in the vineyard at different times of the day (Mt 20, 1-16 ). In the first, Jesus reminds us of the wealth of gifts that God places in our hands throughout life. His conclusion, however, is very demanding: this treasure, this wealth of gifts, or you welcome it with love and creativity, making it fruitful, or you will lose it forever. In the other parable instead the Lord seems to remind us that there is always, in life, a new possibility, at all times, even in the most unlikely. The Father always puts at our disposal new possibilities to enhance, reorganize, make our lives fruitful. To put it in some title of Ignazio Silone, there are always for us an emergency exit, new wine and bread to satiate the thirst and hunger that emerged along the way, there is always in us a seed under the snow ready to sprout to give new impetus to the adventures of every poor Christian. God is patient and does not stop renewing to us, at every hour of our earthly day, the most important gift, the call to holiness, that is, to full happiness. The salary is assured to us in its fullness, at whatever time we have stamped the card. Even the calls to common sense, behind which our small envy or rivalry are sometimes hidden, do not count for God. He only asks us to trust him, even when, at times and in unusual circumstances, he calls us to follow a special path like the novitiate in the Society of Jesus, as it happened to me.

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