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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

28 Dec 2019

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?

Daniel Tímár, novice of the first year

Travel notes

by Christian Lefta

On 24 May, the Society of Jesus in Italy celebrates the feast of ‘Our Lady of the Road’, a devotion so dear to Father Ignatius in his Roman years. In general, the image of the pilgrim has always given me a strange ‘spiritual joy’. Needless to say, for the Jesuits, ‘the pilgrim’ – par excellence – is Ignatius himself.

 

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a study time on Ignatian sources in the Cueva de Manresa, with the second-year novices from Spain and Portugal we retraced, actually backwards, the path Ignatius took from the sanctuary of Montserrat to the town where he would receive the most important spiritual illuminations of his life, Manresa. Walking towards Montserrat, I was thinking back to Ignatius’ journey, the physical one but above all the inner one of the thoughts he carried inside, the questions about the future, the remorse for a rather restless past.

 

Now, that I am here in Genoa, ‘in the middle of the road’ of everyday life, every now and then I find myself thinking back to that road I took, with gratitude and great joy, because I feel that that road was not just a ‘road’ but was and continues to be a recapitulation and an anticipation, in mystery, of every road travelled so far and of all the road to come.

 

 

XXIX
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino:
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.

(A. Machado)

Christian Lefta

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