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



13 Aug 2018

In these months I’ve been asking myself where I will be in a few years’ time. Where will my work be and what will my responsibilities be? Where will I live? Will I have to learn new languages?

Many years ago, journeying on foot towards Santiago de Compostela we met a pilgrim with a white beard and a series of strange objects hanging from his neck. He had glasses held together with tape and an eye which was covered, like a pirate. In a mixture of French and Spanish, he explained that the difference between a beggar and a pilgrim is in the destination. He saluted us saying: “Ultreia!”, which we later discovered to be the ancient pilgrims’ motto which means “move on!”. After saying goodbye, I felt the desire to look back to see if he was still there or if he had been an angelic apparition.

Eighteen years later something made me recall that episode between the plates of trofie (a type of pasta) of the feast of San Marcellino, in the square in front of the church. My spirit mingled with people’s stories. There were Jesuit novices, employees and volunteers from San Marcellino, guests to whom we offer shelter and homeless people who were passing by so as to eat something. There were so many different tales that were recounted. Among these, I was struck by the stories of the volunteers regarding the world of work, a world that I know very well from direct experience. A continual reduction of personnel and costs with the increase of working hours. The closure of businesses and the fear that their own company will close. Unemployment at fifty is not always accompanied by a social safety net. All this mixed with stories of the homeless, their continuous search for a place to stay and a warm meal to eat, hours and hours walking around the city without a destination, waiting for the right time to enter a meal center or dormitory . I saw a precariousness of the world in which we live. It is a precariousness that touches different people on different levels, from work to the search for a roof over their heads, from the search for the ultimate meaning in life to the increasingly difficult reconciliation between one’s own desires and the reality of things.

Then came the experiment of “the pilgrimage in poverty”, once again on pilgrimage after many years, once again in this great and symbolic journey that represents our life. In the  difficulty and tiredness I remembered the episode of the pilgrim who told me “Ultreia!”. We did not know where we would sleep and what we would eat but we knew for Whom and for what we were walking. We were trying to follow the footsteps of the great King and nothing could have given a stronger flavour to our progress and a more profound answer to my questions.

“Blessed is he who finds his strength in you and decides on the holy journey in his heart” (Ps 83:6)

by Daniele Angiuli

Every pilgrim who leaves his home, his affections, to embark on a journey, brings with him contrasting emotions: on the one hand the joy of setting out, of encountering places of unprecedented beauty and new gazes to meet; on the other hand, homesickness for what he leaves behind, for the people he is separating from, knowing, however, that love goes far beyond geographical distances. Above all, he is animated by the desire to be ‘enriched’ along the way, not so much by souvenirs as by encounters capable of transforming him, of ‘letting himself be made’ by the journey rather than ‘making’ the journey.

I believe that similar sentiments animated the men and women of whom the Gospel tells us who, leaving occupations, relationships, set out to follow the Rabbi of Nazareth, who taught from an ‘itinerant chair’ and fascinated many with the strength of his gaze and gestures… Among the many names there is Peter, called from the Sea of Galilee to the sea of humanity; Matthew, invited to turn his gaze towards a Love without measure; Mary of Magdala, liberated by Love and called to be an Apostle of the Resurrection.

But among these names are also ours, today: Jacopo, Paolo, Andras, Gabor, Soheil, Paolo, Daniele, young people with dreams in their hearts, characterised by fragility and strengths. From 1 October, we started a journey in the novitiate community in Genoa, to enter into a more intimate relationship with the Lord, to get to know ourselves better and the lifestyle that makes us happy and makes others happy.

Each of us left a part of ourselves, attracted by a Sight and moved by the desire for a full life, in order to be ‘men all the way, or rather all the way to the top’, as Don Tonino Bello used to say. We certainly have some fears about the future that awaits us, but we trust in the One who becomes our travelling Companion who, like with the disciples of Emmaus, listens to our worries, welcomes our defeats, and rekindles hope.

A month ago, on 16 October 2023, we entered our second probation, a favourable time to go deep into the Word of God, into the writings of our Founding Father St. Ignatius, through prayer life, study, fraternal life.

The possibility of having a day punctuated by precise times, places in which we can contemplate the beauty of creation, adult people in the faith to talk with, companions on whom we can rely, is indeed a great gift from God that we hope to cherish and make bear fruit.

But your name too, dear reader, is called with love by the Master: he does not ask us to be perfect in order to leave, but the desire to dare and the will to entrust ourselves to Him, just as we allow ourselves to be moulded by Him. For us and for you, “homo viator”, the wish dear to the Scout world: “Good path!


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