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

What is Pope Francis’ message to a Jesuit novice?

by Miklós Forián-Szabó

On February 2, 2022, the Day of Consecrated Life, the Holy Father addressed his homily especially to the religious. At that time, I was doing the Month of Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and I listened to the thoughts of the homily indirectly through our novice master. What aspects of this homily should I, as a novice, pay more attention to? What came to my heart from the words of the Holy Father?

I, a young novice, am supposed to represent the new generation. I am supposed to bring the impetus, and the courage to look to the future. I’m not afraid of big changes and I like to search for the meaning of everything and question what doesn’t seem right. The novitiate of the Society of Jesus is a secular institution, built on hundreds of years of tradition, but that doesn’t mean a young man like me can’t find his place in this community. According to Pope Francis, “nowadays the temptation to go back, for security, out of fear, in order to preserve the faith or the charism of the founder… is a temptation. The temptation to go back and preserve “traditions” with rigidity. Let’s get this into our head: rigidity is a perversion, and beneath every form of rigidity there are grave problems.” I fully agree with these words of Pope Francis that call us to avoid any kind of rigidity and at the same time I know that this can only be accomplished with meekness, humility é patience, which, to be honest, I don’t always succeed.

In Ignatian language, an important expression is the discernment of spirits. Pope Francis, a Jesuit, poses the question for our life in this way: “who mostly moves us? Is it the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of this world?” It is interesting that here in my novitiate life, the spirit of the world can easily enter. For example, when we complain.

We Hungarians sometimes like to complain. My concern is that this also becomes an element of my religious life, and I have to be on guard against this risk. The Holy Father also confirmed that “it is sad to see religious who are bitter: closed up in complaining about things that never go right”. I am sure that bitterness is part of the spirit of the world and not part of the call of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Pope Francis, “if consecrated men and women lack words that bless God and other people, if they lack joy, if their enthusiasm fails, if their fraternal life is only a chore, if amazement is lacking, that is not the fault of someone or something else. The real reason is that our arms no longer embrace Jesus.” And what sense would religious life have if we did not hold Jesus in our arms?

My God, help us so that the Holy Spirit can truly permeate our days and our communities more and more! Grant that we may always remain close to You, from where we can look at our lives.

He does…indeed…make all things new

by Alessandro Di Mauro

‘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

Close notification

GesuitiNetwork - Cookie Policy

This website uses cookies to improve our services and your user experience. By continuing your navigation without changing your browser settings, you agree to receive cookies from our website. For more information visit this page.