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

He does…indeed…make all things new

‘Behold, I make all things new’ Rev 21:5

It has been almost a year since I began this new journey as a Jesuit novice. When I chose to be a Jesuit I was really very happy, perhaps I had never achieved such happiness, it was 3 June 2021, then so many thoughts, so many desires that resurfaced, so much… fear I would say today. But when you are in desolation, you don’t go back on your choices, you go ahead and wait again for the consolation you felt on the day of your choice. Afterwards there were the interviews with four Jesuit fathers and every time I came out of one of these interviews, joy burst in my heart as a sign that I was going in the most beautiful direction for me.

The fear disappeared when I knocked on the door of the novitiate on 2 October: as I entered, the face of the second-year novice immediately made me feel welcome and at home. The smells, the colours, the objects I saw and touched in the novitiate in the first moments told my heart that I was, at last, at home. Thus began my journey in the novitiate, I got to know my fellow novices and the formation fathers. I begin my apostolate in the parish and then there are the experiments: the month of exercises and the month in hospital. Everything runs but everything is lived with a calmness of heart that helps you savour each moment and stop every day to thank the Lord for the gift of life and yours in particular. During the exercises I experienced my frailties: that I do not love the Lord enough (I will say during a sharing), but that the Lord is there extending his hand to me and that even my small attempt to love him is precious in his eyes and it is his grace that is enough to follow him.

My journey goes on and I experience the difficulty of rethinking my life before this choice and community life: it is quite a challenge. But I never felt alone, never abandoned, the Lord took my doubts, my weaknesses and used them to love me even more to make me live differently: fuller, richer and more joyful. The month I spent in hospital supporting the guests of an RSA was the moment when this love of God was poured out to our brothers and sisters in need, the moment when you really understand that you are, as St Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, a pencil in the hands of God. And here we are during the summer period when I am experiencing the beauty of encounter and free service to understand once again that it is the Lord who makes…really…all things new by taking over and enhancing your life.

Alessandro Di Mauro

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